By Jill Erickson
Last fall, Heartland Conservation Alliance saved 40 acres of oak-hickory forest at a public auction. It was the start of a pretty exciting journey for our organization. With generosity from our supporters in the last few weeks, we are well on our way to raise the funds to repay a loan from The Conservation Fund. We are so grateful for this outpouring of love for protecting land and nature.
As a land trust, we follow national standards and practices for protecting land established by the Land Trust Alliance. This ensures land will be protected for perpetuity and ensures it is protected for the public good. With a generous gift from one of our founders, Connie Chapman, we conducted an appraisal, a title search, a survey and a Phase I environmental assessment. This made sure we owned the land, knew the boundaries and the estimated market value of the land. The assessment determined the land was not contaminated with any hazardous substances.
We still know so little about this forest patch and have just started a long journey to begin to learn more.
From the title's legal description we know the property had two platted tracts with 27 and 5 lots respectively. We know that this area was once known as Blue River Heights, a subdivision in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, lying Easterly off Blue River Road first recorded with the County in 1906.
Historical information dating back to 1887 indicates that this land was farmed and undeveloped until 1906. There were single family residences built between 1940 and 1952 and a quarry was visible from aerial photos beginning between 1962 and 1969. We know that parts of the property were taken when they moved and widened Bannister Road in 1942 as the Bannister complex geared up for a world war. There is a one-story house one the property that was likely built between 1962 and 1969. We know from the deeds of trust that between 1966 and 1970 various groups and individuals sold lots to Jackson County. Some couples sold the land for $1 and others for as much at $17,000.
What we have yet to explore is what we can learn about this land before 1887 and before white settlers took the land away from the indigenous people living here. Using resources provided by Native-Land.ca, we understand this land is the traditional territory of the Osage, Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, or Sioux, the Kaw and the Kiikaapoi.
At our recent Partnership Summit, I shared an acknowledgement of this history and that we have begun to learn more. This is only a first step we are taking to connect with our community, to disrupt and dismantle colonialism beyond this territory acknowledgement. We hope you join us as we explore our local Indigenous nations or organizations to build relationships and support their work. You can learn more about this land and your own places on the Native-Land.ca website.
Please make a donation today to help advance regional conservation efforts, to reconnect the region’s residents to our natural heritage, and to ensure its protection for generations to come. Click here or text "NeedNature" to 44-321.