JCPRD recently teamed with a group of partners led by the Miami County Conservation District to solve some critical environmental issues in southern Johnson County and northern Miami County.
The Miami County Conservation District successfully submitted an application for a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Urban Waters Grant of $30,553 for a habitat establishment project on a portion of JCPRD’s future Big Bull Creek Park.
“It’s going to restore 80 acres of degraded farmland directly adjacent to the Bull Creek flood plain at the Big Bull Creek Park site,” explained JCPRD Field Biologist Matt Garrett. “Bull Creek is the largest tributary to Hillsdale Lake for water in Miami County. It’s a regional water source. They have a watershed plan, and one of the top priorities is converting cropland to native vegetation. In the upper reaches of the watershed, we’re converting over to prairie to help with that process.”
The Miami County Conservation District is an ongoing partner for JCPRD and has previously funded other prairie plantings at the Big Bull Creek property. The 80-acre grant project site is near the center of the 1,900 acre future Big Bull Creek Park set to open later this year. The project site is roughly between the combined park maintenance building and Johnson County Park Police substation and a nature-themed playground with a three-quarter-mile paved trail.
The grant has a two-year time frame, but no starting date has yet been set. Among issues facing folks in southern Johnson County and northern Miami County which officials hope to address with this project are: loss of pollinator habitat, loss of grassland bird habitat, stream degradation, and water quality.
The project also ties into JCPRD’s long-range plans to plant 500 acres of grassland at Big Bull Creek Park. Of this, about 200 acres was planted last winter.
Other partners in the project will be providing a variety of in-kind services.
Kansas City Wildlands will provide staff and trained volunteers to collect needed seed in addition to purchased seed to help diversify the prairie. About 150 Gardner-Edgerton High School students will be monitoring water quality in Bull Creek. Burroughs Audubon Society will help survey the site for bird and butterfly species. The Kansas City Native Plant Initiative has committed to host two prairie establishment workshops, including one for large landscape managers like park managers, and another for small property owners.
“The restoration work that Matt Garrett and JCPRD is doing is so beneficial to the region and the watershed on many levels -environmentally, recreational, and general access to nature,” said Miami County Conservation District Manager and Watershed Coordinator Lesley Rigney. “This project has the potential to inspire more stewardship in this very high-priority watershed, and that‘s why we jumped on the opportunity to write this proposal.”