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Blue River Headwaters

Vision for a Healthy Action Area

Wolf Creek and Coffee Creek come together, or confluence, near 175th Street and Antioch Road in Overland Park, Ks. to form the Blue River. The Upper Blue River Watershed lies primarily in Johnson County and contains roughly 5,000 acres of parks and public open space — only seven (7) percent of the total watershed. Where farms and agriculture once dominated this Action Area, it is currently a mix of new suburban and business developments. Many cities in the watershed are developing rapidly, threatening the health of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in all


About the Blue River Headwaters

​The Blue River and associated wetlands provide critical habitat for plants and wildlife, water quality treatment, and improved infiltration of rainfall which lessens flood impact, recharges groundwater, and preserves base flow.

Redbelly snake Dan Krull.jpg
Focal Species: Redbelly Snake
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Total Acres in Action Area


Keystone Ecosystems/Habitats

Ephemeral Streams

Summary of Threats

  • Development damaging ephemeral streams, damaging and impairing natural stream buffers

  • Channelization of streams to accommodate sewers, roads and new construction

  • Lack of management of natural resources allowing invasive species to infest and damage areas

  • Lack of collaborative governance to support best practices across jurisdictions

Action Area Management Goals

In the United States almost 60 percent of stream miles are ephemeral, meaning they only flow seasonally or after storms. In Johnson County, ephemeral streams are primarily small spring-fed ponds and drainage channels that collect rainfall. These water sources are referred to as headwater streams and are critical to the health of the entire river network and downstream communities. Headwater streams trap floodwaters, recharge groundwater supplies, remove pollution, provide fish and wildlife habitat, and sustain the health of downstream rivers. Changes that harm these headwaters affect streams, lakes and rivers downstream. (Source:


While many organizations and individuals are working to protect undeveloped natural areas in this Action Area, this Plan highlights a few Alliance members that are leading successful projects to meet the goals of this plan, including:


  • The Nature Conservancy Kansas

  • The Conservation Fund, Kansas Land Trust

  • Blue River Forest Experience

  • City of Overland Park, Ks.

  • Johnson County Parks and Recreation

  • Heartland Conservation Alliance 

  • Mike and Connie Chapman





Indicators of Health


The Blue River Action Plan prioritizes projects to maintain or improve health indicators. We're focusing on the following indicators for the Blue River Headwaters.


Summary of Conservation Priorities

  • Increase community awareness and knowledge about the Blue River with events and resources

  • Purchase land to protect and protect land with conservation easements

  • Support local elected officials in enforcing and increasing protection of streams and rivers

  • Restore riparian areas by removing invasive species and replanting native vegetation

  • Increase the total acres of managed natural vegetation in the Blue River

  • Increase miles of trails to connect communities with the Blue River

  • Monitor, assess, and report on the water quality of the Blue River

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