Kansas City Native Plant Initiative

Photo Group
Wildlife Loves Natives
Photo by: 
Mary Nemecek

A little over a year ago, The Westport Garden Club had a vision to pull together a group of Kansas City organizations to begin a conversation about increasing native plantings in our community. With the guidance of BNIM, one of Kansas City's premier companies, the group of organizations came together as the Kansas City Native Plant Initiative. Their goal was to grow access to native plantings and improve opportunities for citizens to interact with nature across the Greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area.

The need to increase native plantings and biodiversity is great. In the United States, we have planted rough­ly 62,500 square miles, approximately 40 million acres, in turf grass. What we have lost in that process are the native plants that bring wildlife, beauty and function to our yards and green spaces.

These native wildflowers not only attract butterflies like the monarch, but also store carbon, filter water keeping streams and lakes free of pollutants, absorb run off and decrease flooding, control erosion, purify air and bring beauty and a sense of place to our day. While the cost of maintaining a turf can run from $60 per acre into the hundreds of dollars/acre, natives require less maintenance, less water and sustain more life.

In the year that has followed, members of the Kansas City Native Plant initiative have continued to meet, foster ideas and support each other in the increase of native plant habitat across KC. An early win came when members joined efforts and applied for a Monarch Habitat Grant. The grant was submitted by Burroughs Audu­bon and in September of 2015 the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded the grant partners $229,868.

The Kansas City Native Plant Initiative and its members are continuing to work on awareness, increasing habitat and influencing policy across the metro. While only a year old, this exciting and innovative organization is already impacting the landscape in the Greater Kansas City Area.

By Mary Nemecek

Winter 2016