As you may know, we just wrapped up the 2016 season at the Peers Store on the Katy Trail. Thanks to beautiful weather, we had 30 weekends to greet hundreds and hundreds of cyclists and hikers – and locals! – with old-timey music on the front porch, ice cream, artwork by Missouri artists, and gift items selected by our friends at Bowood. With the ice cream freezer being defrosted and the last banjo notes behind us, we thought this was the perfect time to summarize the 2016 activities of the Katy Land Trust.
Connecting the Dots Between Conservation and Economic Development
- Early this year, we asked the St. Louis Regional Chamber to define and study the economic value of Missouri River Country for the greater St. Louis region. We have included their overview of the tourism and economic potential of the area with its historic attractions, scenic byways, and trails for wineries, birding, cycling and other active recreation opportunities just beyond the city limits.
- We completed a three-year effort, “Commerce and Conservation on the Missouri River”, bringing river communities together to talk about the value of conservation and developing a brand that links conservation and green space to economic development. Through symposia and workshops, “Missouri River Country” was created as a brand with a logo and a prototype website to market the natural appeal of the last 100 miles of the river valley from Hermann to St Louis. The Boonslick Regional Planning Commission in Warrenton is now leading and seeking funding for this regional effort going forward.
- KLT co-sponsored and assisted in the first-ever PaddleMO adventure — giving canoeists and kayakers from around the country an opportunity to float the last 100 miles of the Missouri River while camping in the river communities along the way.
Conservation Education and Outreach
- During its second season, the Peers Store was more proactive as a “conservation outpost” on the Katy Trail. Working with Quail Forever, third-graders from Marthasville Elementary studied pollinators in a lesson taught at the store and then helped to sow the seed for prairie grasses and wildflowers in front of the store. We also hosted workshops for bush honeysuckle identification and eradication. Every weekend from April through October, we welcomed visitors and shoppers with messages of preserving our agricultural heritage and conservation. All proceeds from sales at the store went to the Katy Land Trust.
- Our children’s book, Growing Up with the River, was written and illustrated to appeal to children — as well as their parents and grandparents – and to encourage them to actively experience the Missouri River valley. We printed 5000 copies of the book and in the first month (October), we have sold more than 1000 copies.
- With Magnificent Missouri, KLT sponsored the 4th Conservation Celebration on the river in Washington with a pig roast provided by Pappys Barbeque, boat rides from the Missouri Department of Conservation, tours of the worlds only corncob pipe factory and an opportunity to get a photo with a bald eagle from the World Bird Sanctuary.
- River Relief launched its inaugural River Camp, giving students in 8th – 12th grade an opportunity to spend time on the river, studying wildlife, learning about river and floodplain management, and pulling trash out of the river while headquartered at a camp near New Haven, Missouri. KLT funded scholarships for some participants and will actively recruit campers in St. Louis area schools for 2017.
Invasive Species and Native Species
- Our “Enemy of the State” campaign to combat the spread of bush honeysuckle into the Missouri countryside continues to be popular. In October, we hosted the Missouri Invasive Species Task Force at the Peers Store for a meeting and a few hours of honeysuckle removal. They are encouraging use of our Enemy of the State logo in other areas, including Fox Hollow near Columbia.
- Leveraging the mythical bur oak in Growing Up with the River, KLT has worked with Forest ReLeaf to underscore the importance of native plantings and give people an opportunity to win a bur oak at various events. Plus, Forest ReLeaf’s nursery is in the river bottom!
- We collaborated with Missouri State Parks to create the first-ever Peers-to-Treloar Party, attracting more than 300 people to the Katy Trail on a beautiful October Sunday to link communities along the Trail in a celebration of agricultural and railroad history.
- Throughout the year, KLT worked with Conservation Federation and other organizations by participating in Conservation Day in Jefferson City, responding to proposed legislation authorizing motorized vehicles on the Katy Trail, and supporting the renewal of the Soil & Water Conservation tax with billboards.
- In collaboration with the Great Rivers Land Trust, we continue to identify landowners who are interested in preserving their farmland and forests through conservation easements. In November the Katy Land Trust co-sponsored with the Missouri Department of Conservation a workshop to familiarize landowners with conservation easements.
- The St. Louis region and Missouri River Country are fortunate to have many resourceful and imaginative organizations, and the Katy Land Trust considers them to be valuable partners in generating enthusiasm for preserving and appreciating the historic and natural scenic beauty of the river valley. Our partners include the Missouri Humanities Council, Trailnet, the Missouri History Museum and the Nine Network of Public Media. We worked together to spread the conservation message throughout Missouri and beyond.
As you can see from our activities in 2016, we believe that Missouri River Country is a special asset for the St. Louis region. The economic impact of having unique historic, recreational and scenic assets so close to the metropolitan area is real and the benefits for all residents cannot be overstated. St. Louis’ backyard is ready for exploration and thanks to the new Daniel Boone Bridge, bike lanes now connect St. Louis to the countryside. There couldn’t have been a more significant ribbon-cutting in 2016!
If you have any questions about any of these endeavors, please call because we would love to visit about them. More importantly, we welcome any suggestions you have for Missouri River Country going forward. Please share your ideas to help others appreciate the unmatched Missouri River valley!