Did you know July is Parks and Recreation Month? Started by the National Recreation and Park Association in 1985, every July we celebrate the importance of parks and recreation. What a great time to get out and discover the parks of the heritage area. You may be familiar with Black Jack Battlefield as a battlefield, but did you know it is also a Nature Park? Venture out to Black Jack, right outside Baldwin City, Kansas, and explore the “savannah ecotone located between the eastern deciduous woodland and the tall grass prairie in the central great plains of North America.” There is a nature trail that travels through the park and even up into the restored prairie. If you’re in Missouri, visit the Shoal Creek Living History Museum where there is certainly more than history! You can walk through the peaceful grounds and visit the historic buildings, or explore the many walking trails through Hodge Park. Every November they host the Shoal Creek Wilderness Run where participants run (or walk!) through the village but also up and down hills.
The heritage area is also home to several Nature Centers; including Remington Nature Center in St. Joseph, Missouri, Burr Oak Woods Nature Center in Blue Springs, and Ernie Miller Nature Center, the first nature center in Johnson County, Kansas. All sites provide a great look at our natural surroundings. Make plans to visit Ernie Miller for one of their summer Friday night Amphitheater Nature Programs, learn how to catch and cook a catfish at Burr Oak, or enroll in a mock archaeology dig at Remington Nature Center!
Another great place to celebrate Parks and Recreation month is out at Mt. Mitchell Heritage Prairie in Wamego, KS. You can still visit swales and ruts from the the territorial Topeka/Fort Riles Road! The public park is open for visitors to explore the prairie while learning about the stories of territorial Kansas, the struggle to end slavery, and Native American culture. July also gives us the opportunity to thank the many Parks and Recreation Departments of cities and counties within the heritage area that support so many of our partner sites. Many of these sites would not be the success they are today without the support of Parks and Recreation departments. Some of these include: Fort Osage and Missouri Town 1855 – Jackson County Parks & Rec Jesse James Farm, James Bank Museum, Pharis Farm, and Mt Gilead- Clay County, Missouri Parks, Recreation, and Historic Sites Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm Historic Site- Olathe Parks and Recreation Shawnee Town 1929 – Shawnee Kansas Parks and Recreation Spend July getting out and enjoying the beautiful parks of our heritage area!