Last year, Heartland Conservation Alliance launched the Green Guard Stewardship Program at East High School. Green Guard gives urban residents an opportunity to know, love, and be inspired by nature. Stewards adopt a neighborhood site and commit to serve as its steward for one year. Stewards develop a site management plan and document site visits by uploading pictures and observations on HCA’s website. Stewards learn through hands-on work from local environmental experts. They develop professional job skills and gain stewardship experience while directly serving their community and caring for natural areas.
East High School has a 13-acre patch of forest that has been forgotten and become overgrown and a dumping ground for trash.The East High School Green Guard stewards shared experiences that are changing how KC Public Schools view East High School’s forest. The program also catalyzed more work to restore the forest patch at East High School.
Through partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Tree Resource Improvement Maintenance (TRIM) grant program, HCA contracted Molly Gosnell, Midwest GeoInfo, to produce a tree inventory of the East High School forest. Gosnell said that the November 2016 inventory provided a snapshot in time of the trees of the woodland and the data describe the species diversity, age, health, and location of the trees. At East High School, the inventory underlined how invasive species honeysuckle and grapevine are having a severe negative impact on the trees' health. Gosnell said as a result, the Green Guard stewards' work towards removing and controlling invasive plants will benefit the trees significantly and allow for more use and access of this natural resource.
Gosnell used the data from the tree inventory and the USDA Forest Service’s i-Tree program to determine a benefit-cost analysis of the trees at East High School. The benefit-cost analysis measures the annual benefits of trees related to energy, storm water, air quality, and more.
“The tree inventory is also valuable for the KCMO Water Services green infrastructure project,” said Scott Schulte, environmental planner at project design firm Vireo and HCA board president. “The design team is using the survey to estimate the potential impacts of planned storm water ponds on the tree canopy, as well as providing a list of existing species to consider for the landscapes plan.”
Gosnell will teach this year’s East High School Green Guard stewards about the inventory and help the class create a best management plan with the information they have.
This year the Green Guard Stewardship Program is continuing at East High School and expanding into three neighborhoods: Marlborough, Seven Oaks and Blue Valley. If you’re interested in leading a class, would like to learn more about Green Guard or the TRIM data for East High School, contact Partnership Coordinator Joy Heaviland. We welcome visitors at Green Guard and encourage community participation. Learn more on our website’s calendar for dates on upcoming classes.