Friends of the Kaw is a grassroots, non- profit, conservation organization whose mission is to protect and preserve
the Kansas (Kaw) River for present and future generations.

Letter from Friends of the Kaw - Kansas Riverkeeper

Friends of the Kaw 2


Kansas Riverkeeper                                                                         2017 Board of Directors
Dawn Buehler
                                                                                                          Executive Board
Education Director                                                                            Mike Rawitch, President
Laura Calwell                                                                                    Mark Dugan, Vice President
                                                                                                          Mike Scherrer, Treasurer
Education Specialist                                                                         Lisa Grossman, Secretary
Denise Kidder
                                                                                                         Members at Large
                                                                                                         Amy Burgin
                                                                                                         Steve Byrn
                                                                                                         Mike Calwell
                                                                                                         Steve Cringan
                                                                                                         Margaret Fast
                                                                                                         Sarah Hill-Nelson
                                                                                                         Heidi Mehl
                                                                                                         Sarah Morse
                                                                                                         Marcia Rozell
                                                                                                         Robert Sheffield

September 13, 2017
Re:  Proposed Tyson Slaughterhouse
FOK Members,
As you know, FOK is committed to advocating for the Kansas River and educating our watershed citizens about the negative impacts of pollution to the water quality of the Kansas River. Because of our mission, we are unequivocally opposed to the recently proposed Tyson slaughterhouse in Tonganoxie.  While we appreciate the need for quality jobs for Kansans, this project is not the answer. 
Tyson has a well-documented history of bringing environmental devastation to the communities in which it establishes plants. For example, Tyson Foods pleaded guilty to 20 felonies for violations of the Clean Water Act at its Sedalia, Missouri, poultry plant in 2003. In another case, Tyson paid the federal government $3.95 million in 2013 for violations of the Clean Air Act.  Beyond concerns about the actual plant, the multiple chicken factory farms that will spring up in a 50-mile radius will result in large amounts of pollution that run across the landscape that will pollute the Kansas River and the drinking water supply of over 800,000 Kansans. We refuse to let this happen or let Tyson repeat its past violations in Northeast Kansas.
The proposed Tyson slaughterhouse is not our only concern.  Tyson plans to contract with chicken growers in a 50-mile radius of the slaughterhouse – this will extend from Topeka to Kansas City, Missouri and from north to almost the Nebraska state line and south past Ottawa.  They plan to grow and slaughter 1.25 million chickens per week, which is 65 million chickens per year.  The large amounts of waste produced from this many birds will be difficult to spread as fertilizer without producing nitrogen runoff into our streams, rivers, and drinking sources. High levels of nitrates in drinking water lead to methemoglobinemia, or “blue-baby syndrome.” Removing additional nitrates will increase water utility costs for all downstream communities. Waste from poultry operations in Oklahoma, including those contracted with Tyson, resulted in a lawsuit brought by the state of Oklahoma in 2005 to compel poultry companies to store and dispose of their waste in a more responsible manner, and pay remediation for the damages and lost value of the state’s natural resources. We don’t want to see our streams, the Kansas River, and the private wells that many in Leavenworth County rely on for drinking water similarly harmed by irresponsible handling of waste.. 
We are encouraged to see the citizens of Tonganoxie and Leavenworth County taking the lead in pushing their elected representatives for more information about this project. We are working with Tonganoxie’s Citizen’s Against Project Sunset (CAPS), Kansas Sierra Club, and the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project to stand with the citizens against the plant by advocating for protection of the watershed and the Kansas River, educating local citizens on the impact to their drinking water, streams and rivers, holding the government accountable for the health of the Kansas River, and advocating as the watchdog on the permitting process. 
If you want to learn more about the citizen’s group working to fight Tyson, you can go their website at:  You can also follow them on their very active Facebook page at:
Please join us this Friday, September 15, 2017 at 6:30 PM at Chieftain Park in Tonganoxie, Kansas as the state Representatives and Senators share information and answer questions about the Tyson plant in Tonganoxie. Everyone is welcome from any city, county, or state.  State Representatives Willie Dove and Jim Karleskint, as well as Senators Tom Holland and Steve Fitzgerald, will all be speaking. 

In the coming days, we will produce informative documents that you can share with your neighbors and on social media.  We support Kansas Farmers, as they are the economic driver of our state and the heritage of Kansas, but please help us spread the word that Tyson is not welcome here.

dlb signature

Dawn Buehler,
Kansas Riverkeeper



Waterkeeper Alliance




Won't you join us today and become a member? Your your tax-deductible gift helps us to remove dredging operations from our river, advocate for water quality, educate youth and adults, demand enforcement of the Clean Water Act and represent the Kansas River in discussions that impact our state. We need you now, more than ever. Join us.


River Conditions:

Friends of the Kaw is gearing up for 2017!   We recommend that novice boaters only float the Kaw between mid April and mid October when river is flowing at normal to low water levels - under 5,000 cfs.  



Float and Events:

For more information about Friends of the Kaw or to register for FOK Group Educational Floats contact the Kansas Riverkeeper at  (785)312-7200



Have you seen someone dumping waste into the Kansas River? 
Do you think that drainage pipe looks a bit suspicious? 
Call 1-866-RIV-KEEP, or email
the Kansas Riverkeeper and we will help investigate!

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