The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has awarded an additional $500,000 to Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center in Joplin for water quality improvement projects in and around Joplin Creek and the Turkey Creek watershed. The funds will be used to support programs designed to reduce nonpoint source pollution caused by water runoff. They will also be used to continue educational efforts on water quality and watershed best management practices for students and the general public.
The grant will assist Wildcat Glades and the city of Joplin by providing funding to plant trees across a 46-acre stretch of riparian corridor along Joplin Creek and two additional sites in the Turkey Creek watershed, an urban tributary to the Spring River. The Joplin Creek corridor was destroyed by a May 2011 tornado that devastated the city. The loss of trees and vegetation in the corridor has negatively impacted water quality in the creek. When complete, trees in the riparian corridor will absorb and filter pollutants from the water, and enhance the habitat for the creek’s aquatic life.
Another area of focus will be to restore and enhance a wet meadow in Joplin’s Parr Hill Park. The spring-fed wet meadow along a branch of Joplin Creek once held a series of ponds that were built over a filled-in mine shaft. Recreating this wet meadow in the tornado impact zone will assist in filtering pollution from stormwater runoff that drains through the site. Interpretative signs will be used to explain the water quality enhancements.
An enhanced component of the already existing student nonpoint source educational program includes rain garden demonstration sites. These gardens are designed to temporarily hold rain water runoff that flows from roofs, driveways and lawns. This type of runoff generally contains high levels of sediment and other contaminants, which can be naturally filtered out in the garden before the water flows back toward the creek.
The Joplin R-8 School District, along with Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center and the city of Joplin, are partners in this collaborative effort to restore and improve the natural environment in and around Joplin Creek and Turkey Creek watershed. The projects are designed to foster an environment of water quality education, with the goal of enhanced and sustainable watershed practices throughout the area. This grant follows a previous award of $128,401, announced in March 2011, shortly before the tornado.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Region 7 has provided partial funding for this project under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, which addresses pollution from nonpoint source pollution. The Department of Natural Resource’s Water Protection Program will administer the grant funds. The department is committed to working closely with communities and businesses to assist with funding efforts that improve water quality in Missouri.