Blue River Action Plan



This plan was developed to help guide policy makers, community members, Alliance members, land owners and land managers in achieving benefits from sound conservation practices in Action Areas sites identified by the Heartland Conservation Alliance Conservation Work Group. The first Plan was created and adopted in 2016 by a subcommittee of the Blue River Urban Waters Federal Partnership. Funding was provided by the Environmental Protection Agency to create the plan. At that time there were six Action Areas. Missouri Department of Conservation Community Forester Wendy Sangster led the committee that created the first Plan.

Then, as now, Action Areas were determined by examining information from the current Natural Resources Inventory for the Kansas City area and from the Kansas City area Forest Conservation and Restoration Priorities map that was partially derived from an extensive i-Tree Eco study. The eight Action Areas represent geographic areas in the watershed where Heartland Conservation Alliance and others are actively working on the ground to improve the health of the watershed. 

You can explore the Action Areas and current projects to learn more at the Blue River Watershed Map. This interactive map was created with funding from the Health Forward Foundation with technical support provided by Hoxie Collective and Midwest GeoInfo. To learn more about some of the unique layers we created for this map, read about our Restoring Vacant Lots Program.

The Work Group chose Action Areas that are:

  • highly visible to the public

  • provide public access to the Blue River

  • provide good opportunities to enhance stormwater management

  • are located and will benefit underserved communities

The Work Group used goals and objectives for the Action Areas to frame the goals and objectives for each of these sites.  Since the completion of the 2019 Blue River Report Card, the Work Group is actively reviewing each Action Area to insure goals and objectives will reflect the findings from the Report Card and increase the health of the watershed in a measurable method. Establishing a healthy and productive riparian habitat is the primary focus of this management plan. Social and equity issues are also very important. Work in each  Action Area is led by various community champions and work is getting done by many Alliance members. As an Alliance guided by collective impact, whenever possible we create projects with community led vision and input to insure local expertise is at the table and local goals and priorities are getting met.

The Blue River Action Plan summarizes and prioritizes decades of work to restore the health of the watershed including four regional plans: Mid-America Regional Council's MetroGreen Plan, KC Water's Combined Sewer Overflow Plan, the Upper Blue River Watershed Plan and Kansas City WildLand's Conservation Opportunity Action Plan. These plans represent thousands of hours of local expertise and millions of dollars of investment. Heartland Conservation Alliance is dedicated to advancing the recommendations in these plans for a more resilient, healthier and equitable future for Kansas City.

The 2019 Plan included a focal species for each Action Area. These are local and native plants and animals that need these healthy habitats to survive and thrive. Working to restore the Action Areas will help these focal species thrive.

Explore each of the Action Areas in more detail below. To get involved in your community, please reach out to us at info@hearltandconservationalliance or call us at 816-759-7305, ext. 1148. 

Blue River Action Plan - Action Areas
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Blue River Headwaters

16, 271 acres

Habitat: Ephemeral Streams

Focal Species: Plains Leopard Frog

Blue River Parkway

650 acres

Habitat: Healthy riparian corridor, floodplain

Focal Species: Paw-paw 

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Alex George Lake

130 acres

Habitat: Bottomland forest and wetland

Focal Species: American Beaver

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14 acres

Habitat: Wetland

Focal Species: Monarch Butterfly

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Shirling Sanctuary

1,300 acres

Habitat: Upland Woodland

Focal Species: Promethary Warbler 

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Municipal Farm

422 acres

Habitat: Open water, emergent marsh, wet meadow, scrub/shrub wetland, bottom woodland, early successional, upland deciduous woodland

Focal Species: Tri-color bats

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Coming soon! Download the 2020 Blue River Action Plan here.

2016 Action Plan Committee Members: Wendy Sangster, Caitlin Dix, Crew Schuster, Tom Jacobs, Jill Erickson , Roberta Vogel-Leutung, Scott Schulte, Stephen Van Rhein, Jeremy Peichel, Ginny Moore


2019 Action Plan Committee Members: Wendy Sangster, Joy Ellsworth, Laurie Brown, Edd Brown, Adison Banks, Jill Erickson, Scott Schulte, Stephen Van Rhein, Bill Fessler, Ian Fannin Hughes, Molly Gosnell

Heart of the City

300 acres

Habitat: Urban Forest, Vacant Land, Domestic Gardens/Landscapes

Focal Species: Ruby throated hummingbird

Blue Valley Park

287 acres

Habitat: Oxbow wetland and riparian forest

Focal Species: Red Eared Slider 

Visit Us:


Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center

4750 Troost Avenue

Kansas City, MO 64110


(816) 759-7305, ext. 1148

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© 2013 Heartland Conservation Alliance