Vision for a Healthy Action Area
As the Blue River makes the last leg of its journey on its way to the Missouri River, it passes through a once industrialized area, now abandoned and polluted. Here, the river has been channelized, and concrete has replaced natural stream banks. Bridges crisscross the river and junk yards, recycling centers, and tow lots sit on the banks of the river here. This area includes residential areas as well. Fifty percent of the Municipal Farm is targeted for habitat restoration (about 2/3 in forest) in a city-adopted plan for integrated ecosystem restoration, agriculture, and recreation.
Located on the bank of the Blue River east of the Brush Creek confluence, the 444-acre Municipal Farm has been in City ownership since 1911 and benefits from its close proximity to important regional amenities and natural resources (the Truman Sports Complex, regional greenway trails, and the Rock Island Corridor). Over the last century, the farm has been home to the city’s tuberculosis hospital, women’s reformatory, municipal correctional institution, and an inmate-run farm. After the jail was demolished in 2009, a Municipal Farm Sustainable Reuse Plan was created and adopted in 2012 (Resolution No. 120959)
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Focal Species: Ruby-throated hummingbird
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.
Total Acres in Action Area
Shallow marsh and shrub-scrub wetland
Summary of Threats
Construction, demolition, and municipal solid waste disposal, as well as illegal dumping
Contaminated soils and groundwater from historic mining, quarrying, and cement production
Contamination from adjacent law enforcement, military, and municipal infrastructure uses
Summary of Conservation Priorities
Implement the Municipal Farm Sustainable Reuse plan for habitat restoration
Protect groundwater restoration area at Municipal Farm with perpetual conservation easement
Manage invasive species
Reduce illegal dumping (through improved monitoring and enforcement in partnership with KC)
Protect habitat for overwintering bats
About Municipal Farm
In this Action Area, the Blue River has been altered by the US Army Corps of Engineers to control flooding. The Municipal Farm, owned by the City of Kansas City, Mo., is surrounded by industry and residential neighborhoods struggling with crime, poverty, and environmental challenges. The Municipal Farm is home to urban agriculture, groundwater restoration, and contaminated landfills. The Municipal Farm has been overgrown with invasive species, resulting in a monoculture of understory species displacing native wildlife.
Action Area Management Goals
The goal is to create a healthy cross-section of aquatic and terrestrial habitat types in close proximity, supporting a diverse wildlife community across seasons and life stages. The size and diversity of this urban habitat patch is significant and provides buffers and refuge for species that otherwise may not frequent or thrive in urban areas. The goal is to establish a diversity of native aquatic, wetland, bottomland, and upland terrestrial vegetation that outcompetes the invasive species with minimal routine maintenance, creating a relatively self-sustaining 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: Boys Grow, Heartland Conservation Alliance, City of Kansas City, Mo., Blue River Urban Waters Federal Partnership.