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Stephen Van Rhein

"There's the blue in the Blue River" photo by Neil Becker

Stephen moved from Springfield to Kansas City for a watershed management role with the Missouri Department of Conservation. One of the first things he did when he was new to town was the Blue River Rescue. He thinks he probably hauled 100 tires out of the river at Blue Valley Park. At the end of the day he was caked in mud and exhausted, but he loved every minute of it. He has continued to be a part of clean-ups for 17 years.

His love of rivers has coincided well with his work. After 17 years with the Missouri Department of Conservation, Stephen was ready for a new challenge. His move to Kansas City Parks and Recreation has allowed him to learn new skills. He is happy that Parks is open to his ideas to convert more grass areas to native grasses and native plants.

He feels like the Blue River should be the focus of our conservation energy. It is such a gem right here in our city. Everyone in the community should be able to see and connect with the river. With everyone working together, we can make some real improvements. He is very appreciative of how Heartland Conservation Alliance has really taken up the charge to fight for the river.

Not that long ago he met an artist who shared his desire about the Blue River. He thought it would be great if we could just go sit by the river, have a drink and relax. This sounded good to Stephen. Not doing a clean-up or planning or education. Just enjoying his friend Blue.

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