Vision for a Healthy Action Area
As the Blue River flows through more urbanized areas, it becomes more polluted and degraded. This Action Area is bordered by Troost Avenue on the west and Highway 71 on the east in south-central Kansas City, Mo. This area was once booming with new housing developments, schools, and a streetcar line to downtown. It has suffered significant decline, spurred by segregation laws that divided the area, disadvantaging the predominantly African- American neighborhoods east of Troost Avenue.
This Action Area includes the closed Federal Bannister Complex, former site of nuclear warhead production and a severely contaminated site on the banks of the Blue River. The Action Area also includes the Dodson Industrial Area. The US Army Corps of Engineers completed a flood reduction project on the Blue River, which includes levees that now protect these industrial areas from flooding.
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Focal Species: Monarch Butterfly
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 Parkway.
Total Acres in Action Area
Reconstructed wetland and prairie
Summary of Threats
Combined sewer overflows adding untreated sewage to the Blue River
Environmental justice challenges including crime
Poverty and poor health
Summary of Conservation Priorities
Increase public awareness and understanding of importance of green infrastructure
Maintain native plantings at Parks with Purpose •Assess vacant lots for potential green infrastructure projects
Support Kansas City Parks and Recreation with managing natural resources
Provide outdoor programming on sites to increase safety
This Action Area lacks protected open space, trails, and parks to provide adequate access to the Blue River. It scored a “C” overall for recreation in the 2019 Blue River Report Card. One of the biggest threats to the Blue River is pollution from stormwater runoff and a system of combined sewers that overflow during rain events. However, in recent years, more investments are being made to improve infrastructure and open space for residents.
Action Area Management Goals
In 2013, the Marlborough Community Coalition completed the Catalyst Plan, which identifies and prioritizes improvements for the five neighborhoods in this area. It spurred community revitalization through additional public green space, redevelopment of a vacant school, and coalition capacity-building efforts. Long-term benefits include safer places for children to play, cleaner air and water, better resilience to floods, improved public health, and creation of green jobs. A 2017 green infrastructure project protects the Blue River by reducing the amount of stormwater entering the combined sewer system, which lessens sewer overflows and basement backups in the area and reduces downstream flooding. Native landscaping was added to create habitat for pollinators and provide educational opportunities for the community.
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: Marlborough Community Coalition, Heartland Conservation Alliance, Kansas City Parks and Recreation, KC Water, Blue River Quarterly.