MDC joins multiple partners to restore natural habitat to St. Louis City’s O’Fallon Park

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Saint Louis
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Visitors to St. Louis City’s O’Fallon Park may be seeing some changes soon, including some that will make the busy city park a more natural place to be.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recently entered a partnership to restore natural habitat to O’Fallon Park through MDC’s Back to Nature St. Louis Grant.  This grant provides funding for habitat restoration and/or reconstruction on a public park property in St. Louis County or City through a competitive application process.

The grant opportunity is offered every three years and selected recipients can obtain up to $75,000, distributed over a three-year period.  As part of the agreement, recipients are also expected to invest funds and resources into the project on a 75/25 basis.   Applicants can meet the 25% match requirement through direct funding or in-kind contributions to the project.

The result of the agreement is the Back to Nature in O’Fallon Park project.  The goal of the project is to revitalize and enhance the park to improve the visitor’s aesthetic experience, facilitate nature enjoyment, and enhance nature programming opportunities.

As the historic park serves as an anchor for northside neighborhoods, several area partners are coming together to cooperate on the project, including the City of St. Louis Parks Department, Brightside St. Louis, North Newstead Association, and the O’Fallon Community Development Organization.  Additional partners include Missouri Botanical Garden, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, and Forest Releaf of Missouri.

Back to Nature St. Louis funds will support the following activities over the next three years:

  • 15 acres of invasive species removal, such as exotic bush honeysuckle
  • Forest stand improvement and native plantings
  • Two acres of prairie management and expanding prairie area by an additional two acres
  • 1.5 acres of native plantings to help retain and control rain water and runoff issues
  • Community outreach efforts to help obtain public input and raise awareness of the  improvements
  • Offer training workshops for neighborhood volunteers
  • Facilitate volunteer workdays to help accomplish the goals of the project
  • Provide teen employment, career exploration, and job skill development for local students

Restoring native habitat is one of MDC’s major goals, to enhance the quality of life for people, and establish important islands of habitat for native plants and wildlife in urban areas.

“Providing opportunities for communities to connect to nature is a priority for MDC,” said MDC Community Conservation Planner Josh Ward. “Restoring and creating these natural environments in urban areas like O’Fallon Park is as much about connecting people with nature, as it is about improving urban wildlife habitat.” 

MDC anticipates the initial stage of the project, including removal of invasive plants, to begin later this spring.  This is the necessary first step to lead the way for the restoring of natural habitat to the park.

Back to Nature at O’Fallon Park is part of MDC’s continuing effort to work with and for Missourians to create a better environment for people and wildlife.  For more information on other community conservation funding opportunities in the St. Louis area, go to