USDA Forest Service Launches Effort to Connect Land Stewards in St. Louis Area

Release Date: Mar 30, 2023

Contact(s): Franklin Pemberton

Local groups who care for the natural environment are asked to complete online survey

St. Louis, March 29, 2023—A new effort is underway to build a network of organizations that help care for nature and outdoor spaces in the St. Louis metropolitan area and beyond. The USDA Forest Service’s Missouri Outdoor Connections project is collecting survey responses and compiling results in an interactive map that will identify the myriad civic groups working to strengthen communities and environments across Missouri and the St. Louis metro region.

“From vast wilderness areas to local city parks, nature provides essential community benefits,” said Gina Owens, regional forester for the Forest Service Eastern Region. “Our goal is to strengthen the ability for all of us to come together, connect with and care for these natural areas. By working better together, we have the potential to increase social, economic and ecological sustainability across the region.”

This project is designed to help understand and strengthen the civic capacity to care for the natural resources of Missouri’s landscapes.

“Analyzing survey responses will allow the Forest Service’s Urban Connections program in St. Louis to bring together a large and diverse group of land stewards,” said Jai Johnson, Urban Connections specialist. “Gardeners, trail club members, educators, community organizers and many others have the opportunity to join together to take care of local urban natural areas, as well as lands further away.”

This effort is part of a larger project with the Mark Twain National Forest and the Forest Service Northern Research Station with support from the many partners who are already working to complete the survey. The resulting map will include all types of environmental stewardship organizations — large and small, from formal nonprofits to loosely formed neighborhood groups. The project area includes southern and central Missouri and the greater St. Louis area.

“This collaborative effort will ensure that folks of varied abilities and backgrounds in our urban space will make positive connections with the natural environment, resulting in long-lasting physical and mental health benefits and fostering the next generation of environmental stewards,” said Tara Morton, community engagement coordinator with Tower Grove Park, a Forest Service partner who will be participating in the survey.

The Forest Service is asking groups that take care of the local environment, promote natural resource stewardship, or generally care for or promote sustainable public land use to complete the survey. To access the survey, go to

Please direct questions about the survey to

Visit the Forest Service Northern Research Station stewardship mapping website to learn more about this project and the stewardship mapping program, which has successfully brought together land stewards in many other cities nationally and internationally.


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