Folks Road

Kansas Land Trust property

The Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department initiated discussion in the mid 90s with property owners who at the time owned property in the northwest area of Lawrence. The Lichtwardt family expressed interest in donating 40 acres of their land to the City of Lawrence as parkland, but with stipulations in the form of conservation easements to be held by the Kansas Land Trust (KLT), which would limit the land use and types of facilities permitted. This provided the City with a vision of creating a large natural preserve for future residents of Lawrence.

The first step in the process was to make the preserve accessible to the public with the proposed restrictions. The City of Lawrence purchased 23 acres of land south of the Lichtwardt property in 1999. This site will serve as a neighborhood park and be used for parking, restrooms, shelter and a gathering place for visitors to the nature preserve. In December 2000, the City of Lawrence purchased 20 acres of land immediately west of the Lichtwardt property from Wendell and Gerald Dickey. In 2001, the City purchased 14 acres also with a conservation easement west of the Dickey property, from Francis Kelly and Cheri Varvil. The western edge of this property would have a public access area also to the nature preserve. The addition of these three properties allowed Lawrence to expand its conservation effort, which will preserve natural corridors for future residents.

In 2001, Bob and Betty Lichtwardt finalized their donation of 40 acres as a conservation easement to the Kansas Land Trust and City of Lawrence. Natural trails on this site would be named the “Thomas-Hunter Walking Trails” in memory of Lyell Jay, Ethel Sanborn Thomas, and Wanda Sanborn Hunter.

Through a partnership with the Kansas Land Trust and city staff efforts, the City of Lawrence acquired nearly 100 acres of park area, which provides the citizens of Lawrence with a nature preserve. This was the first time the City of Lawrence collaborated with a conservation organization (Kansas Land Trust) to create a natural preserve prohibiting any future development on the property.

The result of the three combined purchases and the Lichtwardt’s donation adds approximately 100 acres of green space in the northwest growth area of Lawrence. This site of a natural park, promotes the health of the Baldwin Creek watershed by restricting all development on the property except for unpaved trails. With the unique trail park planned, this area promises to be a wonderful place to nature walk. The land features steep contours, limestone out-cropping, and a wide variety of trees that includes oak, hickory, red bud and others. Abundant species of native grasses and plants grow in the woods and savannah. In addition, a large number of animals and bird species rely on the woodland for habitat

Reservations for outdoor shelters and indoor facilities are taken at any of the community recreation centers including the Community Building, 115 West 11th St.; East Lawrence Recreation Center, 1245 East 15th St.; Holcom Park Recreation Center, 2700 West 27th St.; Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center, 4706 Overland Drive and South Park Recreation Center, 1141 Massachusetts St.

See our shelter rentals page for more information on renting these facilities or call (782) 832-7920.