Natural Resources Management
In addition to overseeing the operations and maintenance of Kansas City’s 220 public parks, Natural Resources Management (NRM) is responsible for the implementation of several specialized Citywide Services.
Urban Forest Master Plan
Kansas City’s Department of Parks and Recreation, Forestry Division is responsible for the management of a vast urban forest that provides over $28.2 million in annual benefits. This forest is a valuable municipal asset that appreciates over time and produces a positive return on public funds invested in its care. Proper management of this asset is fiscally prudent, as it results in safer city streets and parks, increases the quality of life, preserves the longevity and benefits that trees provide, and demonstrates a high degree of responsiveness to the needs of citizens. The City of Kansas City recognizes the value and services provided by its urban forest, along with the need for an integrated approach to its stewardship. To this end, in 2018 the city partnered with Missouri Department of Conservation to obtain matching funds toward financing the development of an urban forestry master plan. This master plan conveys analysis of existing urban forestry data and establishes a roadmap for the long-term management and improvement of the city’s tree canopy.
KC Parks sustainability plan enhances the ecosystem services of its natural areas and reduces the department’s negative ecological impact. The sustainability plan creates a more regenerative environment by renewing, revitalizing and restoring ecosystems where people and nature thrive together.
Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)
EAB has been found in Kansas City. Visit our EAB page for more information.
Forestry & Conservation
Forestry & Conservation is a program of Parks and Recreation that oversees the management of the City’s trees in the right-of-ways located along streets and boulevards. The division’s management philosophy is to provide a holistic approach in managing the urban forest. In addition to performing the actual service, foresters can issue permits to citizens to perform pruning, removal and planting of trees themselves. There is no cost to a resident for obtaining a tree permit. Dowload a copy of STREET TREE PLANTING REQUIREMENTS Sept 2018>>
- Storm response: This division is prepared to respond to any emergency involving city street trees 24 hours a day. Generally, emergencies involving street trees result from severe thunder, wind, snow and rain storms. In an emergency, an urban forester is dispatched to the problem location. If necessary, a crew will be called upon to assist with the problem. During large storms, several crews may be dispatched. This could include both City crews and emergency contract crews from the private sector. Should there be damage or loss of property, the urban forester will process a City Damage Report. To report storm damage, contact the 311 Action Center.
- Tree pruning: Tree pruning is the most frequently requested service. Pruning is done by city and contractor crews. Over the past two years, a systematic method of pruning has been developed to address individual service requests while pruning entire city blocks in a cyclical manner.
- Tree planting: Tree planting funds are supplemented through various grants and organizations to provide low-cost trees for residents interested in planting trees in city right-of-ways. Although funds may not always be available for a specific council district, the staff will place your name on a waiting list for when funds do become available. The foresters will also can issue a tree planting permit to citizens interested in planting a tree themselves. Learn about the Energy Saving Trees Program>>
- Tree removal: Kansas City has what is termed a “mature” urban forest. A mature forest will have large, stately trees that create an attractive appearance of arched or cathedral ceilings along streets. However, as a result of the mature forest, many of these trees are very old and may go into “decline.” Foresters identify trees that have become hazardous (partially dead, completely dead or structurally unstable) and schedules them for removal. These removals are performed by in-house crews and outside contractors.
- Cooperative projects: Foresty & Conservation works with a variety of public and private utility agencies to ensure utility issues that have a direct impact on city trees will be appropriately handled. This division actively works with the Public Works Department, Water Services, Kansas City Power & Light, and Missouri Gas Energy.
- Rain Gardens:Rain gardens can absorb 30 percent more water than the same size area of lawn. Learn the Why, Where, What and How of building a rain garden.
To inquire about tree permits, tree planting and removal, call 816-513-8553. For emergency services or to report storm damage, contact the 311 Action Center.
Landscape and Florticulture Services
The purpose of Landscape and Florticulture Services is to enhance Kansas City’s parks, boulevards, parkways and public spaces by providing and maintaining landscape beds and floral displays consisting of annuals, perennials and woody plant materials. Targeted service goals include:
- Prune numerous landscaped areas (perennials,shrubs and small trees) on boulevards, parkways and in selected highly visible and intensely used “signature” park areas once a year.
- Assist with the renovations of existing landscape beds and establish new landscape beds where needed.
- Plant all floral displays by May 31 of each year.
- Maintain and weed all floral displays throughout the growing season on a 14-day cycle for an approximate total of 10 cycles. Fertilize and water as weather conditions dictate.
- Prompt removal of all floral displays at the end of each growing season (October).
Kansas City Conservation Corps
Amid the growing need for a specialized group to manage native plantings and natural areas in Kansas City, the Kansas City Conservation Corps was created in September 2009. Consisting of four staff, and managed in conjunction with other Parks and Recreation Maintenance divisions, this crew’s mission is to “provide residents of Kansas City with quality outdoor experiences and implement the preservation and conservation of natural and created resources.”
The Conservation Corps accomplishes this mission by partnering with not-for-profit organizations, local governmental entities, and community groups to leverage available resources via volunteer and inter-governmental networking. Existing partnerships with KC Wildlands, the Missouri Department of Conservation, and other like groups were instrumental in initial mission formation and provide a strong support base for the program.
Specific service goals of the Conservation Corps are to coordinate City resources to leverage volunteer efforts, educate City staff and community groups in conservation practices, maintain City’s inventory of native and created natural resources, and support the City’s Green Solutions and Climate Protection initiatives.
To date, the Conservation Corps has worked with the following groups on conservation oriented projects and programs: KC Wildands, Missouri Department of Conservation, Blue River Watershed Association, GreenWorks of Kansas City, Missouri Prairie Foundation, US Army Corps of Engineers, Westport-Roanoke Neighborhood Association, Jackson County Parks and Recreation, Blue River Rescue, Missouri Master Naturalist Association, Friends of the Lakeside Nature Center, Deep Roots KC, and the Kessler Society. Other projects and partnerships are being developed on an on-going basis.
- Deep Roots KC Virtual Series: Starting Native Gardens from Scratch with Stephen Van Rhein>>
For more information about the Conservation Corps or to explore partnership opportunities in conserving Kansas City’s natural resources, contact Stephen Van Rhein at firstname.lastname@example.org.