Saving the Green

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Published on: Apr. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 26, 2010

As the years go by, the land around us changes. Cities sprawl. Buildings multiply. Green space becomes a scratch of lawn between apartments.

But many citizens, dissatisfied with concrete, are pushing a better idea: urban conservation. From single tree plantings to entire corridors of green, local residents like you are redesigning the future.

"Greenways and other projects are catching on nationwide," says Irv Logan, a Conservation Department metropolitan coordinator. "They're a reaction on the part of citizens to the need for open space."

Urban forester Jerry Monterastelli, also with the Conservation Department, says trees, overlooked for years, are getting some well deserved attention. "Trees should be recognized as part of a community's infrastructure, the same as schools or sewers."

In many Missouri cities, urban progress carries a green theme. In St. Louis, it's the Henry Shaw Corridor, an interstate highway preservation project. In Springfield, it's a rail-turned-trail and greenway. In Lee's Summit, a subdivision nestles new homes among old trees. And in St. Joseph, a nationally recognized parkway system runs from one end of town to the other.

Here's a closer look at a few urban projects to save some green - and the wildlife that goes with it:

Henry Shaw Corridor

Leaving the Powder Valley Nature Center in St. Louis, drivers heading west on Interstate 44 pass forests of swaying trees. They also pass looming billboards, automotive plants and motels without a hint of landscaping.

"Industrial development is important to the economy," says Terry Whaley, director of the Fenton Parks and Recreation Department. "At the same time, woods, parks and rivers are important to the quality of life. The Henry Shaw Corridor would combine the best of both worlds."

The Corridor is a 24-mile stretch of I-44 that Whaley and others hope to protect and preserve. It encompasses 40 miles of the Meramac River, seven cities and three counties.

Acting as the nonprofit Henry Shaw Ozark Corridor Foundation, Whaley and others plan to preserve undeveloped green space; restore native plants like deep-rooted grasses, wildflowers and hickory trees; restore historic landmarks and develop commercial property with nature-loving flair.

The Conservation Department supports efforts to educate businesses and homeowners about corridor benefits. The grass-roots campaign, still in the fund-raising stage, requires private cooperation.

"Haphazard development results in poor practices," says Irv Logan, the Conservation Department's St. Louis metropolitan coordinator. For example, Logan says, industrial discharge, highway runoff and home sewage can pollute the valleys draining into the Meramac. By contrast, the corridor represents coordinated

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