Conservation at Home-Native Trees and How to Plant Them

Trees are a cornerstone to healthy native habitats and that’s why Great Rivers Greenway likes to plant native trees wherever we can along the greenways. They not only add beauty, but they also provide a valuable resource for native wildlife. You too can help wildlife by planting native trees in your own yard. In this episode of Conservation at Home, we check in with Cory Knoblach, Community Forester for Forest ReLeaf of Missouri to learn more about the value that trees provide to our native ecology and how to choose and plant native trees of your own.


Conservation at Home – Invasive Plants

There are many things you can do at home to help native habitats, and one of the most impactful things you can do is remove any invasive plants that might be lurking in your yard. With their prolific seeding, plants like Bush Honeysuckle can spread to your neighbor’s yards, nearby parks and open spaces, and even our region’s stream banks. But not if you stop them before they have the chance!

Invasive plants are one of the greatest threats to our region’s biodiversity. These plants tend to be prolific seeders, and can quickly overtake woodlands, grasslands and streambanks. They are harmful to the environment, human health and can have devastating economic impacts as well.

Conservation at Home – Citizen Science

Even when sheltering-in-place, we can all pitch in and do our part for conservation, and one fun way to get involved – in your yard, at a nearby park, along a greenway or even out your back window, is through citizen science.

There are lots of ways that you and your family can get involved in citizen science. And to help you get started we have put together a list of citizen science initiatives tracking a wide array of things of interest to conservationists and scientists. You can pitch in and help them out by counting birds, tracking seasonal changes in plants and animals, taking pictures of bees, or even mapping squirrels. No matter which project you choose to participate in, you will be helping conservationists expand their data and understanding of the current state of the natural world.


  • Celebrate Urban Birds– Observe birds at the same time and place for ten minutes, repeat three times, report what you saw!
  • St. Louis Audubon Third Annual Birdathon (May 2020)-During the month of May 2020, observe the birds you see in your yard, outside your window or in a park or green space (make sure the park is open and you maintain a safe distance!) Report your findings here:


  • GLOBE Observer-Your observations help scientists track changes in clouds, water, plants, and other life in support of climate research;take your pick of what you want to observe:
  • ISeeChange- Pick an investigation that scientists are actively researching and add sightings from your own backyard, neighborhood or city:


Invasive Species

  • Midwest Invasive Species Information Network- Be a part of the early detection reporting network for invasive species:

Plant and Animal Lifecycles


Create Your Own

Habitat Restoration along Gravois Greenway: Grant’s Trail

Great Rivers Greenway works with partners and volunteers to restore and enhance habitats along its network of greenways. As part of these efforts, Great Rivers Greenway acquired ten acres of land between the Gravois Greenway: Grant’s Trail and Gravois Creek near the Mysun Charitable Trust Trailhead. These parcels, which were once used by a landscaping company and a driving range, have become overgrown by invasive plants and problem trees. Over the course of multiple years, Great Rivers Greenway will restore this land to serve as a native habitat, providing benefits to pollinators, wildlife and the entire community.

2019 River des Peres Trash Bash Recap

Thank you partners and volunteers for another successful River des Peres Trash Bash!

On Saturday October 19, 2019,  424 volunteers came together under sunny skies to clean up the creeks, streams and neighborhoods within the River des Peres Watershed.   Here are some quick highlights and numbers:

Trash Removed

  •  7 tons of trash and 150 tires removed in 3 hours!
  • Of the total, 1 ton of metal and all 150 tires will be recycled

Event Details

  • 15 cleanup sites along the river des Peres Watershed
  • 4 Check in locations- Willmore Park-St. Louis, Heman Park Community Center-University City, Hanley Hills City Hall, and Lorraine Davis Park-Webster Groves

Prizes awarded for: 

  • Strangest Trash Found – 20 year old (approx.) Nintendo Game
  • Most Valuable Trash Found – Power tool bag

Thanks to partners, volunteers enjoyed:

  • free t-shirt
  • breakfast & lunch
  • post event celebration at Willmore Park with DJ, educational booths and entertaining Renegade St. Louis history lesson about the River des Peres

In addition to the major partners, we are grateful for the following events partners who provided, resources, staff and/or hosted cleanup sites:

  • Ladue- three dump trucks and staff
  • Clayton -skid steer, truck and staff, also managed waste processing area
  • Des Peres- one dump truck and staff
  • Shrewsbury- one dump truck and staff
  • Frontenac -one dump truck and staff
  • Brentwood -one dump truck and staff
  • Creve Coeur- one dump truck and staff
  • University City site host, one dump truck and staff
  • Glendale staff-assisted Clayton staff at the waste processing area
  • Crestwood covered part of Domino’s pizza lunch cost for volunteers
  • Webster Groves site host
  • Hanley Hills site host
  • Dobbs, recycled 150 tires

Sound like fun? Join us for the  Confluence Trash Bash on March 21, 2020. Complete the form below to be notified when registration opens! 

Confluence Trash Bash 2020 registration notification



Volunteers Needed for 17th Annual River des Peres Trash Bash Saturday October 19

Great Rivers Greenway District, in partnership with the River des Peres Watershed Coalition, Missouri Department of Conservation, Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, and the City of St. Louis invites you to clean up the creeks and streams within the River des Peres Watershed.

This is a family friendly event that improves neighborhoods by removing trash and improving water quality in St. Louis City and St. Louis County.
Volunteers of all ages are needed to clear litter from several sites, including Gravois Creek, Deer Creek, River des Peres and the Mississippi River.

“This year’s floods revealed how trash or plastic bottles dropped on streets and sidewalks winds up in our waterways,” says Tom Schweiss, Great Rivers Greenway Conservation Manger. “At the peak of the flooding, many people were dismayed by all of the trash floating in the River des Peres and wanted to know what could be done to clean it up. The Trash Bash is a great opportunity to get involved and do just that. We need all hands on deck to remove the trash, restore habitat, and improve water quality for everyone who lives in the watershed.”

Registration will take place from 8:00 to 8:45 a.m. at four locations – Willmore Park, located on the east side of the River des Peres and just north of the intersection of Hampton and Gravois Avenues in St. Louis City; the Heman Park Community Center, located at 975 Pennsylvania in University City; Hanley Hills City Hall located at 7713 Utica Drive; and Lorraine Davis Park, located at 145 E. Waymire in Webster Groves Free breakfast will be provided at each location, and all volunteers will get a free t-shirt.

The cleanup will last from 9:00 a.m. to noon with a celebration and appreciation pizza lunch at Willmore Park from noon to 2 p.m. Volunteers will also be rewarded with musical entertainment and prizes for the “best” trash finds in three categories—most valuable, oldest, and weirdest.

Volunteers at the 2018 Trash Bash removed 6.7 tons of debris from streams and creeks within the River des Peres Watershed in only three hours. The final tally included 138 tires, 1.4 tons of scrap metal, .45 tons of recycling material and 4.8 tons of trash. Long-time volunteers, youth and community groups, as well as new faces from across the region, are encouraged at this year’s Trash Bash to work together to improve the River des Peres Watershed.

For more information or to register in advance,

Restoring a Wetland along the Gravois Greenway Extension

Construction to connect the Gravois Greenway: Grant’s Trail and River des Peres Greenway continues despite heavy rains and historic flooding throughout the region. While work in certain areas of the project has been put on pause due to conditions, work in other areas is set to begin. Work to restore a wetland area near Gravois Creek and to construct a raised greenway through this flood prone area will soon get underway! We caught up with the project’s architect – Vern Remiger of DGRE Studio – to learn more about the wetland area and the restoration project.

Maline Greenway: Stabilizing Stream Banks

Before installing three new bike and pedestrian bridges in Bella Fontaine County Park as part of its Maline Greenway project, Great Rivers Greenway had to address erosion issues along Maline Creek and two other waterways within the park. Project engineers and landscape architects took a close look at the problem and developed a solution that utilized a combination of stone and green infrastructure. The improvements will protect the stream banks during storm events and flash flooding and reduce the amount of downstream sediment pollution within the waterways.

Willow Staking along the Meramec Greenway

To help stabilize an eroding stream bank near the Meramec Greenway: Lower Meramec Park, Great Rivers Greenway partnered with Saint Louis County Parks and the Open Space Council to plant more than 300 willow stakes. But before the stakes could be planted, staff from each of the organizations and community volunteers came together to harvest stakes from another park along the Meramec River. These stakes, cut from live willow trees, will provide protection for the stream bank and provide many other ecological benefits in the process.