Land and Sky Scenic Byway: A Priceless Opportunity

Land and Sky Scenic Byway sign opportunity

Land and Sky Scenic Byway is the nation’s first byway with an agriculture theme. This Land and Sky Scenic Byway sign stands in front of an irrigated soybean field.

Wouldn’t you like to get away?

Slow down a little. Relax. Take in the scenery. Breathe. Escape from pressure.

Drive a scenic byway.

Interstate 70 does what Interstates do. It takes people and goods from Point A to Point B as fast as possible. Interstates do that well, but they don’t allow time to take in the beauty. No one stops and smells the roses on an Interstate.

Selfie opportunity at The Giant Grasshopper

Hans Klein-Hewett, Landscape Architect for RDG Planning & Design, poses for pictures under the palm tree next to The Giant Grasshopper. RDG is the state’s interpretive signage contractor. Klein-Hewett came to identify signage sites.

Stop and smell the roses on Land and Sky Scenic Byway

Byways are about stopping to smell the roses. Byways take people away from the Interstate, away from traffic, away from some long, controlled four-lane highway. Byways encourage people to escape from control, look at the sunset, take pictures of sunflowers, grab a selfie at the Giant van Gogh Painting or Giant Grasshopper, marvel at the dance of mechanized harvest, take their time eating at a locally owned restaurant and stay in a local hotel. Byways are roads of choice, taken for relaxation. Studies show byway travelers are looking for the unique. That uniqueness includes, but is not limited to, dining, attractions, shopping and the authentic hometown atmosphere.

The byway benefits the community

Byway travelers spend money.

Those travelers bring new clean money into the community that would not come otherwise. Those dollars don’t take a toll on our schools, roads, water system, or other related infrastructure. That money stays in the community, generating more money. In a study that the Kansas Dept of Wildlife Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) conducted in 2013, travelers save local taxpayers over $500 a year in taxes. In the last study conducted by KDWPT, Sherman County brought in nearly $26 million from travelers in 2013. Kansas byways bring in an additional 17 to 19 percent of revenue to the communities that sit on Kansas byways.

Kansas byways map opportunity

2016 Kansas Byways map

Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) crews installed Land and Sky Scenic Byway signs last week. Land and Sky Scenic Byway is marked on KDOT’s map, Kansas Bicycle map and guide, KDWPT byway website, KDWPT byway map. KDWPT and KDOT are featuring our Land and Sky Scenic Byway at many locations, along with the state’s other 11 byways.

KDWPT’s “Byways of Kansas” 2016-17 magazine has arrived at the Travel Information Center along Interstate 70 west of Goodland. Land and Sky is in the center of the magazine. The article includes pictures of the Giant van Gogh Painting and Kuhrt Ranch. Sherman County has 10 listings in the magazine’s See/Stay/Eat/Shop section. Those listings would not have happened without Land and Sky Scenic Byway’s designation.

The state has byway Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts which will include Land and Sky Scenic Byway.

The signs, maps and magazine are only some of the benefits Sherman County will see. These benefits came from KDOT’s and KDWPT’s budgets, not local citizens’ or local governments’ budgets.

Sign installation at Exit 17

KDOT employees check the straightness of the byway sign installed north of Interstate 70’s Exit 17.

Goodland and Sherman County are the gateway to Land and Sky Scenic Byway. Interstate 70 bears the most traffic of any road that crosses the byway. KDOT’s official records for 2015 report 9,620 cars and trucks traveled Exit 17 and Highway 27 every day. Where will the greatest share of travelers start driving the byway? Exit 17. Where will the greatest share of travelers stay to explore the byway? Goodland. Which restaurants will they choose? Goodland’s.

The state has decided that Highway 27 from the Nebraska-Kansas state line through St. Francis, Goodland, and Sharon Springs merited special attention because of its beauty. The state and local committee decided to tell the story of agriculture along the local byway.

The state will continue to help promote the local byway. They’ll add more signs telling the byway’s story and directing travelers to follow it. People will come because the state is telling people about it.

But the state has 11 other byways to promote. The local byway cannot have their undivided attention. If the byway communities want the local byway to reach its potential, the byway communities need to pitch in and promote it themselves.

The byway presents a priceless opportunity

Without local promotion, the byway will still be here. The state’s designation doesn’t have an expiration date. The local communities have the option to make it better, to draw more travelers, to gain more positive economic impacts. We know our stories far better than people in Topeka can ever know them.

Our community has this priceless opportunity to tell its story and to tell the story of agriculture. Let’s take advantage of it.

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