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The Seven Oaks neighborhood is working hard to revitalize vacant lots in their community while protecting the quality of the Blue River and its tributaries. Through sponsorship from the Blue River Watershed Association’s Communities Protecting Rivers grant provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation the neighborhood has committed to adopting and revitalizing three vacant lots. The Seven Oaks neighborhood plans to revitalize the vacant lots into a butterfly sanctuary and labyrinth, nature playground, and an orchard. Members of the Seven Oaks community were trained to monitor and care for the Blue River by BRWA staff through their T.R.U.E. Blue Program (Teaching Rivers in an Urban Environment). The residents gained knowledge on why and how to monitor the quality of their streams and then were provided information on best management practices to protect the quality of the water. HCA partnered with BRWA and the Seven Oaks neighborhood to train residents to be stewards of the vacant lots through HCA’s Green Guard Stewardship program. The Green Guard Stewardship Program educated seven members of the Seven Oaks neighborhood on areas such as invasive plant management, habitat restoration, land use and planning, and community organizing from Kansas City environmental professionals. HCA's Green Guard instructors include Lara Isch, KC Water Services; Bill Fessler, KC Parks and Rec; Cathy Bylinowski, MU Extension Center; Patrick Martin, National Wildlife Refuge; Amanda Lindahl, The Giving Grove; Lauren Garrot, Shockey Consulting; Caitlin Dix, Heartland Conservation Alliance; and Stephen Van Rhein, Missouri Department of Conservation. Throughout the program the stewards gained appreciation and awareness of the monarch butterfly and other pollinators. “We plan to restore every vacant lot in our neighborhood to butterfly and wildlife habitat and will urge every community to do the same” said Minister Gregg, of Thank you Christ Ministries and a member of the Seven Oaks Neighborhood Association. What started as a simple project to revitalize the lots in their neighborhood to bring the community together, expanded into a project that will bring back habitat and wildlife, and protect the quality of the Blue River and its tributaries. The Seven Oaks have three more BRWA grant sponsored cleanup days on June 3, 10 and 17. If you would like to help out email Joy Heaviland,, for more details. The Blue River Watershed Association’s mission is to restore watersheds through education, community outreach, partnerships, and collaboration. This year BRWA is celebrating 20 years of community education and outreach; environmental stewardship; and strategic partnerships in the Blue River Watershed. Partnership between Heartland Conservation Alliance and the Blue River Watershed Association has lasted for many years. Some of the past partnering events and projects include: Martin Luther King Jr. Nature Walk, Municipal Farm and Green Guard Program water quality education, and BRWA STREAM teams. Thank you, Blue River Watershed Association, for your partnership and thank you Seven Oaks neighborhood for your outstanding commitment to protecting the places we love.

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