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Kelly establishes new state park in Allen County


TOPEKA, Kan.  — Wednesday, Governor Laura Kelly signed seven bipartisan bills, including House Bill 2039, which establishes a new state park in Allen County – Lehigh Portland Trails – and provides disabled veterans with permanent hunting and fishing licenses for free.

“Establishing the Lehigh Portland Trails as our state’s 28th state park will bring more tourism to Allen County and provide another place for families to enjoy the outdoors,” said Gov. Laura Kelly. “As a previous Executive Director of the Kansas Recreation and Park Association, I know firsthand how important our parks are to our communities and our economy. This bill also helps our veterans overcome financial barriers to participate in all the good our parks have to offer.”

“As a seventh-generation Allen Countian, I’m glad to see this bill recognizes the beauty, benefits, and economic opportunity that those of us from the area have always seen in the Lehigh Portland site,” said Lt. Gov. and Secretary of Commerce David Toland. “I thank Gov. Kelly and the legislature, as well as the many community members from throughout Southeast Kansas, who made this happen.”

“The Lehigh State Park is a great win for Kansans to enjoy our outdoor experiences,” said Rep. Doug Blex. “Getting a nearly $2 million property donated by Iola Industries, a unique trail system already developed and paid for, plus the potential of getting a near 100% recreational development grant makes Lehigh a very cost-effective addition to Kansas State Park system. It only makes sense to allow such a unique property to be acquired.”

“Thanks to Thrive Allen County and the generous members at Iola Industries, tremendous value is being added to Kansas’ already world-class state parks system in the form of a beautiful lake and quality trails,” said Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Secretary Brad Loveless. “While I know this property is going to be an instant hit with our parkgoers, I also know that our park staff’s plans for development will make it even more inviting in the very near future.”

“We’re incredibly proud to support HB2039, which designates Lehigh Portland State Park. This doesn’t happen without a groundswell of community support,” said Lisse Regehr, an Iola Industries board member and CEO of Thrive Allen County. “This opportunity opens many recreational and economic possibilities for our state and all who visit. It has been a vital part of our community and we look forward to sharing it for generations to come.”