Places To Go

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From Missouri Conservationist: Jun 2012

Mark Youngdahl Urban CA

Enjoy multi-use trails, wildflowers and bird watching at this urban wildlife refuge in St. Joseph.

If you plan to be around St. Joseph in June, stop by the Mark Youngdahl Conservation Area (CA) to enjoy the area’s trails and wildlife-viewing opportunities. The area is named for Mark Youngdahl, who was a Missouri state representative from 1970 to 1990 and a St. Joseph City Council member until his death in 1993. He worked diligently to acquire this urban area for the Conservation Department, and his legacy helps residents and visitors discover and enjoy nature inside the city limits.

The 85-acre area’s two-mile trail system accommodates hikers, bikers and wheelchair users. The three-quarter-mile Ridge and two-third-mile Pond trails are paved and accessible to disabled visitors. The graveled three-fifth-mile Marsh Trail is appropriate for hiking and bicycling.

Bicycles are allowed on all trails, but bicyclists must yield to pedestrians and wheelchairs. You’re also welcome to walk your dog on the trails as long as you keep it leashed and clean up after it.

Don’t forget your binoculars and field guides. A 2-acre marsh and other small wildlife watering holes attract waterfowl, turtles and frogs. Nesting boxes have been placed throughout the area, providing habitat for birds and other cavity-nesting wildlife. Birds you can expect to see and hear during your visit include herons, hawks, sandpipers, kingbirds, warblers, orioles, woodpeckers and even bobwhite quail. Other wildlife that make the refuge their home include white-tailed deer, foxes, raccoons, opossums, rabbits and squirrels.

If you’re in the mood to barbecue during your visit, you can choose from two picnic areas that include pavilions, tables and cooking grills and two privy restrooms, all disabled accessible. The area ponds are fishless and provide shallow-water habitat for amphibians.

Interested in urban landscaping? Over the years, area managers have planted more than 75 species of native and nonnative trees to display the kinds of trees commonly planted in urban landscapes across Missouri. Tree identification booklets are available free of charge at the Northwest Regional Office located at 701 James McCarthy Drive in St. Joseph.

The area’s main entrance is located on 36th Street between Faraon/Jules and Messanie streets in St. Joseph. As always, check the area’s website (listed below) for the bird list, brochure, map and regulations before you visit.

—Bonnie Chasteen, photo by David Stonner

Recreation opportunities: Bicycling, bird watching, hiking and native plant landscaping demonstrations

Unique features: Multi-use trails, wildflower meadows and wildlife nesting boxes.

For More Information: call 816-271-3100 or visit

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler