(click star to vote)

Cultural Systems


Develop Regional Partnerships to Create a Walk-in Adventures Program

Contact the Flint Hills Regional Council for more information about creating a Walk-in Adventures program.

Get Started »

Tool Information


  1. Tourism
  2. Economic, Environmental, and Social Impacts
  3. Awareness


This tool investigates regional partnerships between large private land holders and parks and recreation facilities and services. Like the Walk-in Hunting Access Program developed by Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, a Kansas Walk-in Adventures program could allow hikers, bikers and school children on certain private land under specified times and conditions.  This partnership could open new avenues for education, commerce, tourism and adventure along trails that link people in new ways to the ecosystem.   Private trails can help to link regional destinations as well as state and national trail ways and recreational land.  With new technologies at the ready, an App could link or record registered users to access lands and give property owners assurance of accountability and responsibility in practice.  The program could help land owners involved in restoration projects with modest funding, will providing an opportunity for young science students to learn about the unique prairie ecosystem in their own back yard.  

Image 1 Needs Citation


The Flint Hills is a unique ecological treasure in the world that requires a certain scale to appreciate.  On a trail, by foot or bike a visitor gets a different perspective of the landscape than that of the view from a truck on the highway at a distance.   Many visitors and residents want to have the opportunity to participate with the Flint Hills landscape in a responsible way.  A Walk-in Adventures Program could take on the task of organizing and registering visitors who would like to participate and encourage them to follow use policies.  A program could work with the state to ensure that land owners who lease land to the state are exempt from liability.  A planned trial program also helps to direct traffic and limit damage to the ecosystem by limiting and designating areas for tourist traffic.   Land owners would be entitled to a modest payment for allowing the public access private lands, helping to fund ecological restoration and maintenance efforts.  

Additional Information






 Kansas Walk-in Hunting Access Program

“The walk-in hunting access (WIHA) program kicked off in 1995 in an effort to enhance the strong Kansas hunting heritage by providing hunting access to private property.  The program has grown to one of the most successful access programs in the country.  By 2004, over 1 million acres were enrolled in the program providing countless opportunities for sportsmen to pursue their favorite game at no additional charge….Land owners receive a modest payment in exchange for allowing public hunting access.  Payments vary by the amount of acres enrolled and the length of the contract period….Liability is waived from private individuals who lease land to the state for recreational purposes.  State law provides immunity from damages or injuries resulting from ordinary negligence.”


Image 1

2012 Fall Hunting Atlas Map 21


This program, while not specific to walking and biking tails is a model of the legal and administrative requirements to developing a program where land owner can volunteer to lease land to the state for recreational use in exchange for a waiver of liability and policies to limit the uses of that land by the public. 

Walk in Hunting Atlas 21

Implementation Strategy

Champions and Partners

  • KS Department of Parks and Wildlife
  • US Fish and Wildlife - Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area
  • Kansas Nature Conservancy
  • Kansas Department of Commerce
  • Kansas Economic Development Alliance
  • Kansa Rail-Trail Conservancy
  • Sunflower Rail-Trails
  • KDOT
  • Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance, National Park Service
  • Large landowners and current guest ranches (Hoy Family, RK Cattle Co., Grandview Ranch (Jan Jantzen), Cedar Bluffs Guest Ranch, Pilgrim Ranch Retreat)
  • Suzan Barnes (group tour packages)


Medium (3-8 years)



Cost Details

2-3 dedicated experienced staff members with an understanding of property rights, easement creation, networking with regional tourism industries, tourism marketing, and coordination with economic development agencies to provide services and amenities near destinations.

Funding Sources

Wildlife restoration grant program- Department of the Interior fish and wildlife

  • The Wildlife Restoration Program provides grant funds to states' and insular areas' fish and wildlife agencies for projects to restore, conserve, manage and enhance wild birds and mammals and their habitat. Projects also include providing public use and access to wildlife resources.

The Eastern Tallgrass Prairie and Big Rivers Landscape Conservation Cooperative

  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has technical skill in planning and delivering conservation, whether on a National Wildlife Refuge, at a National Fish Hatchery, or on some other public or private land.  This organization could aid in investigating and planning a network of Walk-In Adventures on private land.


Kresge Foundation

  • Funds Rails to Trails Urban Pathways Initiative program in Washington DC, New Jersey, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Ohio as a strategy for overcoming the obesity epidemic.  

Implementation Details

A brief outline of the first few steps necessary for implementation are provided. The steps outlined here are provided only as a suggested starting point and other approaches are certainly valid.

  • Discover the organization willing to host the program
  • Fundraise and hire necessary staff
  • Create policies and legal templates
  • Outreach to land owners & marketing to attract voluntary participation form landowners
  • Secure easements and land owner agreements
  • Develop the trails & establish a maintenance program
  • Develop maps and web resources and link them to other recreational sites
  • Create an ongoing and sustaining budget and funding source


Case Study

Muddy Sneakers(TM): The Joy of Learning Outside



This program and unique curriculum utilizes the natural treasures in North Carolina as an outdoor theater for learning.  This innovative and highly successful program gets kids outside engaging and stimulating different parts of their brains and bodies.  Since the program has been in place the district has improved science test scores by 25% and 10% in math.  This program also results in a greater awareness among students of the ecological systems in their own back yard.  Students are able to conduct applied research in subjects like weather, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, forces and motion, properties and change, energy and transfer etc.

Image 1

Photo by unknown

From the Muddy Sneakers ™ Program Website


Outdoor Classroom


The Muddy Sneakers program is one example of the potential benefits a Walk-in Adventures program could provide within the region.  It could be a recreational amenity, but also an invaluable educational resource.