top of page

Blue Valley Park

Vision for a Healthy Action Area

George Kessler’s 1922 paper, “Special Report for the Blue Valley Parkway,” explored development of rivers in other cities and suggested that the areas near the Blue River had great natural beauty. Kessler wrote that the River could be “one of the most useful and beautiful waterways in the country.” Unfortunately, the portion of the Blue River near Blue Valley Park has been egregiously altered to fix flooding problems. It looks nothing like a natural river and doesn’t follow the original channel. The Blue Valley Neighborhood is a working-class neighborhood that 2010 census data notes is 78 percent minority. Around two-thirds of people earn less than $25,000 annually. The community is flanked on the east side by Interstate 435 and a heavy industrial corridor, now abandoned. The community has experienced severe flooding from the Blue River over the years and is located in a combined sewer overflow area.

About Blue Valley Park

Central to this Action Area, Blue Valley Park has a long history with its community. Established in 1945, these 238.5 acres sit alongside the Blue River. It has a small lake, historic Santa Fe trails, rolling woods, and traditional amenities like Frisbee golf and ball fields added over the years through community efforts. The park has become overgrown with invasive bush honeysuckle, creating a hotspot for illegal activities. The surrounding neighborhood has a high number of vacant properties and is plagued with illegal dumping. Two elementary schools and two high schools are working with partners to improve management of their campuses, which include more than 30 acres of urban forest.

Blue Valley Oxbow.jpg
red-eared_slider MDC.jpg
Focal Species: Red-Eared Slider
Total Acres in Action Area


Keystone Ecosystems/Habitats

Oxbow Lake

Summary of Threats

  • Invasive bush honeysuckle

  • Limited riparian vegetation (mowed turf to edge of river)

  • Streambank erosion

  • Illegal dumping

Click above to view full Google Map

Action Area Management Goals

Building on strong community connections in the Action Area, local planning efforts identified conservation goals for the Blue River, which include improving the urban forest, preventing erosion, increasing biodiversity, and repairing and replanting wetlands, mixed forests, and grasslands. Resources will focus on increasing community access to natural resources in Blue Valley Park with events, outreach, training, volunteer workdays, and trails.


While there are many organizations and individuals 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:

  • Blue Valley Neighborhood Association

  • Heartland Conservation Alliance

  • Kansas City Parks and Recreation

  • Missouri Dept. of Conservation

  • Blue River Urban Waters Federal Partnership


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 Heart of the City. 

Water Quality






Summary of Conservation Priorities

  • Remove invasive species

  • Expand riparian vegetation

  • Plant trees

  • Install rain gardens, bioswales, and prairie plantings

  • Increase access to river with trails

bottom of page