By Debby Woodin
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Joplin may be able to land a federal grant through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources that could be used toward repairing the Joplin Creek waterway and planting trees along its banks.
Tony Robyn, the city’s disaster recovery coordinator, said the DNR offered the grant to the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center for use on Shoal Creek, but the nature center does not have the matching funds the grant would require. The Audubon Center offered to partner with the city to apply for the grant if the city had a use for the money.
City documents list the cost of the project at $1,047,335, with $628,401 coming from the federal government.
The purpose of the grant, Robyn said, is to restore waterways to a natural state, and improve water flow and quality.
Robyn said the money is available because it was awarded to another recipient who then could not use it. He said the application would require the authorization of the City Council and will be one of the items presented to the council at its meeting Monday.
The grant could be used to repair Joplin Creek, which stretches from 20th Street near Murphy Boulevard, along Campbell Parkway and alongside Landreth Park.
In addition, as part of the creek’s restoration, sizable trees could be planted to prevent erosion and shade the stream for fish habitat.
“One of the biggest needs across the tornado zone, and especially Murphy Boulevard, is trees,” Robyn said. “So this was a great opportunity.” The plan calls for the installation of 2,000 2-inch caliper trees and, if available, even some 4-inch caliper trees that would be large enough to require planting by tree spade.
A variety of trees, including dogwood, hickory, black cherry, burr oak, elm, maple, river birth, sycamores and white oaks, would be planted. There also would be shrubs, including varieties such as button bush, chokeberry and hornbeam.
The grant also would cover watering and maintenance of the trees for their first year so that work is not added to parks staff, Robyn said.
Another project that could be accomplished is putting in a wetland area in Parr Hill Park.
“There is a spring that seeps on the north and makes it hard to mow. We could convert that into a wetland meadow with wetland grass and plants.”
Audubon Center would install interpretative signs along both the restored creek and the park wetland to explain the natural elements and their importance.
Robyn said the project could face challenges. “We have to have the contract awarded for the work and the trees by the end of July. We’re hopeful and confident there is a company out there that can pick up a contract of this size in that time.”
There also is a possibility the funds could get cut because of the federal sequester, Robyn said.
Joplin Creek near the what now is the Union Depot location was the site of the earliest strikes of lead and zinc, which put Joplin on the map. The creek was first channeled in 1909 to protect the Kansas City Southern railroad line from becoming flooded and washing out.