KANSAS CITY Mo -- The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will open its new Kansas City Regional Office May 2 at the James A. Reed Memorial Conservation Area.
Supervisors and field staff, such as foresters and biologists, will be based at the new regional office, located at 12405 S.E. Ranson Road near Lee’s Summit.
But the $4 million project will also serve as the new visitor center for anglers, hunters and nature enthusiasts enjoying the James A. Reed Memorial Conservation Area. The office is on the historic area’s northwest corner. Construction began in June 2009 and workers put the finishing touches on the grounds in this month.
“It’s a nice, functional building that will save us money while still serving our conservation mission and people in the Kansas City area,” said Mark Nelson, a regional forestry supervisor and site administrator.
The biggest change for visitors will be that a new entry road leading to the regional office will now also serve as the main entrance to the 3,084-acre area. It is about one mile north of the old main entrance, which will now become a service road and no longer open for general public use.
Visitors have been using the old gate to reach hunting fields and fishing lakes since the area’s founding almost 60 years ago. Mrs. Nell Reed donated the first 731 acres in 1952 to honor her husband, James A. Reed, a prominent leader Jackson County leader who served in the U.S. Senate from 1911 to 1929.
Most of the Reed Area is in unincorporated Jackson County. But it adjoins Lee’s Summit, Lake Lotawana and Greenwood. A newer, southern portion of the area is within the Greenwood city limits.
The area has hunting fields, 11 fishable lakes and ponds, hiking trails, an archery range and multiple use trails open to horseback riding. It’s a haven for birdwatchers with diverse woodland and meadow habitats.
A classroom is now available for conservation training and meetings, which was not offered in either the old regional office or the original Reed headquarters building. Visitors will also find a new service counter where they can request that maps be printed out, pick up free conservation literature, obtain hunting and fishing permits, and buy nature books.
The 9,000-square-foot, single-story building has fiber-cement siding and a low-sloped metal roof with broad, sheltering overhangs. The project has incorporated “green” building concepts and products as much as possible. Those include a geothermal heating and cooling system, structural insulated panels, energy efficient lighting. The building also uses some products made from recycled materials such as steel, acoustical ceiling panels, carpet and a metal roof.
Outdoor landscaping also incorporates “low-impact” development such as ground sculpting and rain gardens to minimize storm water runoff while providing growing space for native plants.
Building the regional office on land already owned by the department will provide additional space that was badly needed and save long-term costs for rental properties. Staff had outgrown the cramped former regional office at 3424 N.W. Duncan Road in Blue Springs, a rental property. That office also did not have adequate storage space, secure overnight parking for state vehicles or onsite fish and wildlife activities for visitors.
A field office in rented space in Liberty was closed in November and those employees now are based at the new regional office.
Current plans call for 24 employees, including support staff, to be based in the regional office.
The building that has long served as the Reed headquarters will no longer be open to the public. It will now serve as office and storage space for MDC staff working at the area.
Signs will direct visitors to the new main entrance into the Reed Area and to the service counter in the regional office building. The service counter will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except on state holidays. No staff will be present to assist visitors on weekends. However, outdoor, self-serve stations for hunters to pick up and deposit hunt cards during dove, waterfowl, rabbit and squirrel seasons will be available.
For more information, call 816-655-6250.