Logan Heley, Blue River Kansas City, MO Urban Waters Ambassador shared the following:
Location and sponsoring agency/organization: I am executive director of Heartland Conservation Alliance, the sponsoring organization for the Blue River Urban Waters Partnership in the Kansas City, MO area. The Blue River begins in the quickly developing suburbs and greenfields in the southwest of the Kansas City Metro and flows 42 miles through the heart of the city to the Missouri River.
Favorite part of the watershed: Our mountain bike and hike trails along the river are some of the best in the nation! When you get on the river, either hiking, biking or kayaking, you can see its beauty and potential.
Current priorities: The Blue River Urban Waters Partnership (previously known as the Middle Blue River Partnership) is focusing on three areas: restoring riparian forests, upland habitats and wetlands; connecting the river to the revitalization of brownfields and urban neighborhoods; and engaging the community to connect people to the river – especially river neighbors.
Best accomplishment to date: The community engagement achieved for our Palestine East neighborhood vacant lots project funded by an EPA Environmental Justice grant. We’re working to create and adopt a re-use and maintenance plan for about 20 acres of vacant land. The plan includes long-term programming and strategies for community ownership. We aim to reduce illegal dumping, improve home values and build pride in and beautify the neighborhood. It is our hope that the restored forest will increase the natural functions of the watershed and urban canopy resulting in cleaner water and cleaner air. This project presents a unique opportunity to restore critical wildlife habitat in an urban core, and leverage the restoration to provide opportunities for outreach and engagement for improved community health and safety. It also addresses serious environmental justice issues.