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.
Focal Species: Red-Eared Slider
Total Acres in Action Area
Summary of Threats
Invasive bush honeysuckle
Limited riparian vegetation (mowed turf to edge of river)
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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.
Summary of Conservation Priorities
Remove invasive species
Expand riparian vegetation
Install rain gardens, bioswales, and prairie plantings
Increase access to river with trails