Never doubt the power of dedicated volunteers. Some recent successes for the Platte Land Trust are proof. People who believe in something, donate time and effort, keep going to meetings even if it seems like nothing is happening very fast, they make good things happen.
I recently attended the land trust’s annual meeting and saw president Carla Dods make a presentation on the past year’s activities. Their success is impressive. They’ve worked with young people on service projects, helped land owners install conservation easements, and worked with other non-profits to save a valuable virgin prairie south of Kansas City.
Just in case you are unfamiliar with the organization, here’s a quote from their website at http://www.plattelandtrust.com: “The Platte Land Trust is an all-volunteer organization with a mission of conserving land and natural resources for wildlife habitat, farming, forests, historical importance and parks and trails for the benefit of communities.”
This land trust can especially serve property owners who have a fondness for land they want preserved in perpetuity as farm fields, forest or meadow. Assistance is available for establishing conservation easements.
This could include cash on the barrelhead and legal assistance for establishing easements. Some of you might say: isn’t green space preservation what our city, county and state parks departments do? Yes, they do those things. However, most government parks systems have limits on financial and personnel resources to address green space and historical preservation.
Private, non-profit land trusts fill gaps that government cannot cover. Sometimes they partner with other non-profits or government services to make something good happen.
Land trusts are active throughout America. Some are quite large and major players in preserving green space and providing additional places for outdoor recreation. They are somewhat new in the Kansas City region because undeveloped land did not seem like a scarce commodity.
And beyond the metro is farm country.
Urban sprawl is changing the scarcity factor. The Northland has seen steady urbanizing changes since the 1950s. But rapid bursts of growth have occurred at times, especially thanks (or no thanks, depending on point of view) to the Kansas City International Airport and interstate highway construction.
Now KC sewer and water line construction into new areas is about to bring mind-boggling growth transformations.
I became aware of the Platte Land Trust in the late 1990s and have followed their efforts since. It has had success, such as a generous land donation by the late Charlotte Sawyer in the Parkville area. They helped with conservation easements on 300 acres in Platte County.
But as the most active land trust in the KC metro area, their efforts have expanded beyond our county lines.
Unplowed prairie with diverse wildflower and native grass species is a rarity in the region. Platte Land Trust was a key financial contributor in partnering with other non-profits to purchase the 24-acre Snowball Hill Prairie in Cass County and spare it from impending development, plus an additional 50 acres that can be restored to native plants.
The group is working with an agency to become a conduit for funds provided by industry as mitigation for natural habitat loss. The bottom line is funding will be available to go with the volunteer effort and the desires of property owners wanting help with land preservation.
The group continues to work on easements in the Platte County and in other counties.
Volunteerism is still key though. Back in April, Platte Land Trust hosted college students working on trail building and removing invasive plants. The students were part of Mizzou Alternative Break, a spring break program at the University of Missouri at Columbia.
For all the bad news in this world, the antidote is people making good things happen. Platte Land Trust is the latter. Give them a call at (816) 716-3402 if you would like to lend a hand.
Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area, may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.