in Store for Hidden Valley Natural Area
by Doris Sherrick
and protecting Hidden Valley Natural Area (HVNA) will become easier
in the future as new hiking and accessible trails are constructed,
erosion control features are put in place, and work to eliminate invasive
exotic species continues.
the building of a debris dam to control erosion.
by Jimmi Lossing
These changes planned
for Hidden Valley are becoming a reality as a result of a grant from
Kansas City’s Public Improvements Advisory Committee (PIAC)
that was awarded for the purpose of developing a master plan for the
Natural Area as well as for Hidden Valley Park. This grant made it
possible to contract with The Big Muddy Workshop Inc. Landscape Architects/Interpretive
Planners, Omaha, Nebraska to develop a master plan for the area that
would address the erosion problems caused by illegal motorized activity
and head cutting of the main stream and tributaries; improve public
access by creating some hard-surfaced accessible trails; creating
a sustainable trail system with minimal impact; creating a single
track hiking trail that can be constructed and maintained with trained
volunteers; and protecting the natural and cultural resources of the
area. Educational features are also a component of the plan.
Trail Building 101.
Photo by Jimmi Lossing
for Hidden Valley Park north of Russell Road addresses recreational
needs for the families residing in the many multifamily developments
surrounding the park. Picnic areas with a shelter house, playground,
Frisbee golf course and more easily accessed athletic fields have
been proposed for that area while a prairie reconstruction adjacent
to the Natural Area is currently underway. This proposal has been
submitted to Kansas City Parks and Recreation for their approval.
If you haven’t
had the opportunity to visit Hidden Valley, you might wonder what
the fuss is all about. Well, Hidden Valley is a very special place.
If you hike the trails in Hidden Valley in the spring you will find
delightful spring ephemerals such as jack-in-the-pulpit, green dragon,
Dutchman’s breeches, trout lily, bellwort etc., in bloom and
a variety of ferns. You may find a turkey feather on the trail. You
will most surely spot deer and possibly other mammal tracks. Newly
emerging leaves of the very old white oak, sugar maples, red oaks,
pawpaws, shagbark hickories and others will give a green tint to the
air. In contrast, a fall hike will be very showy with all the colors
those trees contribute to the forest as their leaves change from green
to red, gold, orange and purple. But, whatever the season when you
visit HVNA, you will surely experience solitude you did not think
possible so close to heavily traveled highways and developments. When
you are in Hidden Valley, don’t forget to take a look at the
soil beneath your feet, as it too is special. It is the result of
the wind-blown silt that collected in mounds at the end of the last
glacial era and has unique qualities.
by Claus Wawrzinek
The Thomas Hart
Benton Group Sierra Club has a particular interest in HVNA since
the Group adopted the area through its partnership with Kansas City
WildLands about five years ago. Kansas City WildLands is a coalition
of resource professionals, private conservation organizations and
conservation-minded citizens working to protect, restore and preserve
the remnant natural communities in the Kansas City metropolitan
area so future generations can experience and learn about the presettlement
landscape. This goal is carried out by providing education to the
community and involving community volunteers in the activities necessary
to protect, restore and preserve these high quality ecological treasures.
By adopting Hidden Valley, the THB Group serves as an advocate for
the Natural Area and works to educate the community about Hidden
Valley and the need to work for its protection and preservation.
THB members also schedule and participate in workdays to eliminate
the invasive exotic plants such as shrub honeysuckle and wintercreeper,
pickup trash, enjoy hikes and report unauthorized motor activity.
Muddy Workshop, Inc. held a workshop in HVNA to train Kansas City
Park and Recreation personnel and volunteers in trail building and
erosion control techniques. This training was put to good use on
October 3 when 250 employees from VML, Inc., a Kansas City marketing
technology company, volunteered to whack honeysuckle and the Tree-of-Heaven,
to build a section of trail, and to install some erosion control
features. Thanks to their efforts, the changes in store for HVNA
are off to a good start. You will have an opportunity to pitch in
and help with these projects by volunteering for the Kansas City
WildLands annual workday on November 3. Details for volunteering
can be found on page 8. Be sure to mention that you’re a Sierra
Club member when you call!