In 1994, three federal agencies and 700 volunteers launched the first National Public Lands Day. On this day, late in September, volunteers across America provide stewardship to public lands that they love.

Especially today, the strain on our government’s budget is more than it can bear and cuts to the National Parks, National Forests, and other public lands continue at an alarming rate. This trickles down to state, county, and city lands, as well. It is easy to become apathetic and even angry about budget cuts, yet when it comes to local parks, we always expect them to be there and well maintained. That may not always be the case. Our parks and other public lands need us to help.

A local nonprofit, the Blue River Watershed Association, has come up with an idea to do just that. BRWA has established an event, Revolving Green Around the Blue for people to come and clean up Kansas City Parks & Recreation land around a Blue River tributary, Indian Creek. (To be perfectly transparent here, I am proud to work for BRWA as my day job.)

BRWA has many partners in this endeavor including, Mid-America Regional Council, KCMO Parks & Recreation, Kansas City Water Services, KC Wildlands, Jackson County Parks & Recreation, Revolve KC, Missouri Stream Teams, Missouri Department of Conservation, SeaLife, and the YMCA. Together, they invite individuals, families, Scouts, and friends to join them in picking up litter in and around Indian Creek along the Indian Creek Bicycle Trail.

Many people do not think about what happens to that paper cup, or plastic bottle that they throw out the window. The motto is: “If it's on the ground, it's in the Water.” Rain picks up litter and washes it into the nearest body of water where it eventually travels to larger and larger streams and rivers. It’s important to keep litter off the ground.

Volunteer participants will also be removing invasive honeysuckle. Honeysuckle is the first plant to leaf out in the spring and quickly overshadows native species. It spreads rapidly by birds distributing its red, ripe berries. This bush grows quickly and is over-taking much parkland, and roadsides. After stewardship activities, Revolve KC will give bike safety and maintenance workshops. Then, everyone will take a leisurely bike ride (approximately 5 miles) along the Indian Creek trail, to Alex George Wetland. Volunteers who participated in the stewardship activities will be treated to a free thank you picnic. Eco Elvis will be singing his memorable tunes all with environmental lyrics. If you do not have a bicycle, no problem, the Revolve KC can loan you one.

Revolving Green Around the Blue occurs on Sept. 23. It should be a perfect day to get outside for exercise, contribute to our city and public lands, while meeting new folks, and enjoy a picnic all at the same time.

For more information, check out the Blue River Watershed Association website at:, News & Events, Calendar, September 23. You have to register to participate. Make it a really great day and form your own team. All of the partner organizations thank you, and the public lands thank you, too.


-- Lynn Youngblood is the Executive Director of the Blue River Watershed Association in Kansas City, Missouri. Reach her at