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Trails offer pathways to explore wonders of nature

by Jill Erickson

One of the things I love about living in Kansas City is all of our green space, especially around the Blue River. In fact KC Parks has 12,242 acres of parkland, Johnson County Parks and Recreation manages more than 9,700 acres of parkland, and Jackson County Parks + Rec is the 3rd largest county parks system in the nation with 21,000 acres.

While many of these acres are managed as ballfields and playgrounds, there are thousands of wild land throughout our communities. Unfortunately, most of these more natural areas are not managed and are also not accessible.

One solution we have are trails. Trails make our public lands more accessible and single track trails offer access to some of the wilder places along our city's creeks and streams. In our city, we wouldn't have many of our trails without the hard work and dedication of hundreds of volunteers and nonprofits organizations like Urban Trail Co., Exploring Roots and Kansas City WildLands. Without trails and their work we would never be able to experience some of the most beautiful places in our city.

For example, in the middle watershed, Heartland Conservation Alliance saved the Heartland Overlook Preserve, aka the HOP, last fall to provide a critical trail connector for miles of single track trails . In the lower watershed, we just completed construction of a 1/2 mile trail in Blue Valley Park. Construction was provided by Nomad Trails. This is part of a two-year, $240,000 project funded by the National Recreation and Parks Association in partnership with the Blue Valley Neighborhood Association and KC Parks.

After more than a year of meetings with a Community Advisory Council to plan restoration and a trail, we just completed the trail in the park on Friday. It is so beautiful and I encourage you to get out and explore wild places on trails. Your soul and heart will thank you.

The leaves may be gone, but visitors can still walk the trails at Blue Valley Park and find habitats and wildlife in the branches. Late fall and winter are great times to experience a different side to nature.


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.

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