The Kansas Natural Resource Legacy Alliance, a 15-member group studying the state's natural resources with an eye toward maintaining a healthy environment and seeking avenues for economic development, elected its leadership, at its first meeting, in Topeka.

Sheila Frahm, who was appointed to the alliance by Gov. Bill Graves, was elected chairwoman. Frahm farms with her husband, near Colby. She is a former U.S. senator and lieutenant governor. She is a member of the agricultural task force on the Ogallala Aquifer.

John Strickler, who also was appointed by Governor Graves, was elected vice chairman. Strickler is the executive director of the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education. Previously, he worked for the Kansas Forest Service and Kansas State University. He also served as acting secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks under Governor Graves and former Gov. Mike Hayden.

During the meeting, each of the alliance's nonvoting advisors, including seven state agencies, briefed the group on the natural resource issues affecting their constituencies. Future meetings, which will be scheduled at different locations around the state, will focus on educating the public about the alliance and gathering their input on natural resource issues.

Information gathered in public meetings and from natural resource professionals will be used to set and prioritize the alliance's goals and to identify funding needs. The group's outcomes will consider outdoor recreation, tourism, economic development, natural resource education, fish and wildlife resources and all facets air quality and soil and water conservation.

In May, 2003, the alliance will make a preliminary report on its activities and its recommendations to the governor and the legislature. A final report will follow in December, 2003.

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