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Swope Park

A Vision for a Healthy Action Area

Much of the Blue River runs through Swope Park and is most notable in the KC Zoo as it flows under the bridge to the Africa exhibit. Lakeside Nature Center, Missouri’s largest native species rehabilitation center, is also located in Swope Park and is the center of this Action Area. The Center provides educational and recreational opportunities, such as three public nature trails along limestone bluffs that offer users a nature experience and a walk along the awesome Bethany Falls Limestone boulders. Nestled in the valley behind the Center, the trail meanders along limestone bluffs, beside the scenic Fox Hollow Creek, through old riparian forest, all the while exploring the colorful personality of a deep, primitive, wetland valley. Shirling Sanctuary, a nationally recognized bird sanctuary established by the Audubon Society in the 1920s, can also be found in this Action Area, but it has been nearly lost to invasive species.

About Swope Park

A significant amount of this Action Area remains undeveloped because it was designated as parkland, but it suffers the highest density of invasive bush honeysuckle than any other area. Park areas are plagued with illegal dumping and vandalism. The banks of the Blue River are severely eroded from flooding and lack of vegetative cover. For more than 15 years, Kansas City Parks and Kansas City WildLands have used prescribed burns, removal of invasive plants, and cultivation of native plants to manage Rocky Point Glades, a trail running through the park. In addition to managing a wildlife rehabilitation facility, Lakeside Nature Center offers the public opportunities to explore nature with trails and education.

Swope Green Guard 2.jpg
warbler 123RF.jpg
© Marie-Ann Daloia
Focal Species: Prothonotary Warbler
Total Acres in Action Area


Keystone Ecosystems/Habitats

Bottomland hardwood forest

Summary of Threats

  • Invasive species, primarily bush honeysuckle

  • Stream bank erosion

  • Abuse of trails

  • Illegal dumping

Click above to view full Google Map

Action Area Management Goals

The overall goal of this Action Area is to support the public land managers in maintaining the natural areas, providing outreach and education to the public, and increasing access to the Blue River.


While many organizations and individuals are working to protect undeveloped natural areas in this Action Area, this Plan highlights a few Alliance members that are leading successful projects to meet the goals of this plan, including:

  • Kansas City Parks and Recreation

  • Kansas City WildLands

  • Burroughs Audubon Society

  • Friends of Lakeside Nature Center


Indicators of Health


The Blue River Action Plan prioritizes projects to maintain or improve health indicators. We're focusing on the following indicators for the Blue River Parkway.

Water Quality






Summary of Conservation Priorities

  • Establish and maintain conservation practices that contribute significantly to minimizing stormwater runoff, improving water quality, improving air quality, reducing heat islands, etc.

  • Support increased opportunities for recreation

  • Manage invasive species and increase diversity of age classes of trees and native species

  • Remove honeysuckle in green areas away from drainages 

  • Develop outreach activities for the surrounding neighborhoods

  • Expand riparian corridor by planting native bottomland species

  • Establish native prairie and/or savannah plants where appropriate

  • Retrofit existing stormwater management infrastructure  

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