|Year(s) Listed: • 1996 • 1998|
|City/Town: • Kansas City • Lawrence • Topeka|
|Location Class: • Government|
|Built: | Abandoned: N/A|
|Status: • Endangered|
|Contributor: Kansas Preservation Alliance|
Featured Image by: By Dicklyon – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=106194214
The Kaw was historically a wide, shallow, silty, slow-moving, braided river, but it has been heavily modified by flood control measures, water diversions, bank stabilization, and dredging. The Kaw’s degraded habitat has made the American River’s Most Endangered Rivers list 5 times since 1995.
Some progress has been made since the most recent in 2012, although the Kaw still faces many threats. The most intense among them are impacts from in-river sand and gravel dredging used to make concrete. Dredging widens and deepens the river channel, lowering the water level of the river and the water table.
Dwindling access to water is a major threat to animals, humans, plants, and a significant agriculture industry in Kansas, especially when the looming concern of climate change is factored in. Scientific studies show that dredging a prairie river like the Kaw is particularly harmful since when sand is removed, the river attempts to fill the holes by carving away soil from the riverbanks. That erosion damages valuable farmland and wildlife habitat, to say nothing of the taxpayer-funded infrastructure like flood control structures, bridges, roads, and intake pipes for public water supplies