In 2019, Brad Loveless was named the Secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. We reached out to him to see what he felt was so special about Kansas.
What are the latest developments in regards to the parks and trails in Kansas?
BL: We continue to make improvements to our parks and trails. I don’t think we could go to a single one of our facilities and not find changes even over the last few months, fueled by ever-increasing demand. We continue to repair camping areas damaged by the devastating 2019 floods, add and improve campgrounds and access. With our patrons’ shift to larger campers with higher energy demand, we are upgrading all of our camping areas electrically to accommodate those.
Our Flint Hills Trail is not complete and we are working to extend the west end clear to Herrington and have segments to the east that are useable but which aren’t up to our preferred standard. Since that trail is fully bordered with private landowners with shared fencing, fence upkeep and improvements are a continuous need and critically important to us because we want to be good neighbors
What value do you feel public trails and public lands have in Kansas?
It’s never been more obvious that access to public space outdoors is essential to society’s health and well-being. Besides the increasing demand for these spaces for hunting, fishing and boating, the science is clear that time outdoors for any reason leads to measurable physical and mental health benefits.
What are some of the biggest Kansas misconceptions you think people have?
I would cite the thought that Kansas is uniformly anything – flat, windy, dry – you name it and we will routinely vary from that. We are a state with terrific variety and beauty from north to south and east to west. Some of my favorite places are in the corners and until people take the time to explore, they won’t enjoy many of the unique wonders we have to offer in Kansas.
When you think of Kansas, what’s the image that comes to mind?
I have a myriad of images that I love and have for Kansas so I’ll share the one I experienced this morning with my grandson at the dawn of his first birthday. The sun rising through eastern clouds toward a clear sky. Quail calling softly to each other as they were waking up and a marsh hawk wafting over the waving prairie in search of breakfast. Kansas for me is a picture is a picture suitable for framing almost everywhere you look.
For someone who’s never been to Kansas, do you have any recommendations for where to go or what to see?
I do, but let’s talk about it. I want your readers to come and enjoy the parts of Kansas and the activities that they will enjoy most. Call us at 620-672-5911 and let’s visit about what you’re most interested in. We’ll help you find it.
For someone who grew up in Kansas and feels like they’ve seen everything there, do you have any recommendations for where to go or what to see?
Depends on the time of year. Summer and right now I wouldn’t miss the waterfowl and shorebird migrations through our Cheyenne Bottoms, Quivera and McPherson wetlands. The next few months will be prime fishing in our reservoirs and winter means the finest upland bird hunting for quail and pheasant in the US.
Spring will bring some of our hottest fishing action and the greening of our expansive prairies – Flint, Smoky and Red Hills with a spectacular prairie flower display that changes weekly from June through September. There are terrific things to do and see all year round in Kansas!
What makes Kansas special for you?
Astounding variety, breath-taking beauty and life-giving plants, animals, water and fine people.