TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly has signed off on a bill Wednesday that would create the state’s 28th state park.
Kelly approved of House Bill 2039, KSNT reports, which establishes the Lehigh Portland Trails in Allen County as the next state park for the Sunflower State.
It also provides disabled veterans with free permanent hunting and fishing licenses.
“Establishing the Lehigh Portland Trails as our state’s 28th state park will bring more tourism to Allen County and provide another place for families to enjoy the outdoors,” Kelly said.
“As a previous executive director of the Kansas Recreation and Park Association, I know firsthand how important our parks are to our communities and our economy. This bill also helps our veterans overcome financial barriers to participate in all the good our parks have to offer.”
The trails are home to many interesting features which could be further enhanced if the area becomes a state park. More than 12 miles of trails, an abandoned quarry, a 138-acre lake, historic farmsteads and a 300-foot-long cave are some of the most prominent features of the area.
“Thanks to Thrive Allen County and the generous members at Iola Industries, tremendous value is being added to Kansas’ already world-class state parks system in the form of a beautiful lake and quality trails,” said Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) Secretary Brad Loveless.
“While I know this property is going to be an instant hit with our parkgoers, I also know that our park staff’s plans for development will make it even more inviting in the very near future.”
Local advocates and the KDWP have been pushing for the addition of the Lehigh Trails to the state park system for the expected boost to the local economy and influx of tourists to the state.
“We’re incredibly proud to support HB2039, which designates Lehigh Portland State Park. This doesn’t happen without a groundswell of community support,” said Lisse Regehr, an Iola Industries board member and CEO of Thrive Allen County.
“This opportunity opens many recreational and economic possibilities for our state and all who visit. It has been a vital part of our community and we look forward to sharing it for generations to come.”