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.
© Marie-Ann Daloia
Focal Species: Prothonotary Warbler
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.
Total Acres in Action Area
Bottomland hardwood forest
Summary of Threats
Invasive species, primarily bush honeysuckle
Stream bank erosion
Abuse of trails
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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
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.
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.