Columbia Volunteers Mobilize on MKT for Urban Restoration Project

In Columbia, volunteers are working with the city’s parks and recreation department and other organizations as a part of an Urban Ecology Restoration project that aims to revitalize an area that was once home to a sewer treatment facility. Volunteers planted over 80 trees and 300 shrubs along the MKT trail on Saturday. Elizabeth Trovall went to the planting site off of Forum Boulevard to see how the project will create a lush landscape but also decrease storm water runoff in Columbia.  

By Elizabeth Trovall (Columbia, MO.)

Skinny trees and gangly shrubs pepper the MKT hillside above ground beside a small lake. At 8:00 on a chilly Saturday morning dozens of volunteers take their shovels to the soft dirt. Volunteer Elsa Boyd plants her eighth plant today. Boyd says she doesn’t mind waking up early for this kind of project. “It makes you feel good. In two years I can ride my bike and see these trees and know that I planted them.”

Boyd is one of about 50 volunteers who are helping realize a 90,000-dollar project started by Columbia Parks and Recreation, the City’s Treekeepers program, 3M, and the Columbia Aquatic Restoration Project to restore the site of a former sewer treatment facility. Columbia Parks and Rec. Forester David Dittmer says the finished project will have three wetland cells designed to hold storm water runoff.  “See we’re down here with the Hinkson creek bottoms and the Hinkson creek has a lot of problems with the storm water runoff from the cities, and a lot of erosion flooding problems.”

The 80 trees and 300 shrubs were just the start of the new wetlands, only about 1/3 of the total plants were put into the ground on Saturday. The rest will be planted sometime next year.