BiodiverseCity St. Louis

BiodiverseCity St. Louis is a growing network of organizations and individuals throughout the greater St. Louis region who share a stake in improving quality of life for all through actions that welcome nature into our urban, suburban and rural communities. Learn more about this effort, and join in.

Take Action Today…and Make It Count

Throughout St. Louis, every day, people are making big and small changes to their backyards, balconies, streetscapes, schoolyards, parking lots, and play areas. Some are doing this because they love nature and want to experience more of it in their daily lives. Others recognize that native plants in the right places help prevent flooding, clean and cool our air and improve human health and well-being. Still others embrace the positive impact that leafy streets, accessible parks, hiking/biking trails and other quality green spaces have on property values and the economic vibrancy of our region.

For all these reasons and more, the BiodiverseCitySTL Network invites each of the 2.9 million citizens of the greater St. Louis bi-state region to take action. In this spirit, we are excited to launch the Nature in Our Neighborhoods citizen action project. No matter who you are or where you live, all of us can do something to beautify, bio-diversify and better the communities in which we live, work, learn and play. To get started, check out our curated list of expert ideas and local resources from across our region, connect with others and share your stories.



On behalf of the BiodiverseCitySTL team, thanks to each of you for putting your love of nature into action this past year. Whether you visited a new hiking spot, attended an outdoor event, took a class, participated in citizen science, cleaned up a creek, removed invasive species, planted native trees, served on a community committee, mentored a young person pursuing a green career, donated to your favorite conservation group, spoke up on city or county land use issues, or otherwise advocated for the living world, each one of you is why we're still doing this—sharing good news, spotlighting ways to learn more and get involved, and helping communities grow in nature-driven ways.


Throughout this past year, the BiodiverseCity St. Louis team has been working with stakeholder organizations to kick-start a key biodiversity target of the OneSTL Sustainability Plan: By 2025, 100 percent of counties in metropolitan St. Louis are using a regional biodiversity vision, atlas, and action plan to guide their planning, policies, and practices in ways that increase habitat connectivity, ecological functionality, and quality of life for all. Just last month, we announced the launch of BiomeSTL: Biodiversity of Metropolitan St. Louis—a regional vision, atlas, and action plan that calls upon everyone everywhere to put healthy, vibrant lands and waters at the center of how we connect with, design, plan, and sustain our communities. We are currently recruiting multi-disciplinary teams of people to help develop and advance core elements of this cool initiative. If interested in learning more and getting involved, email us at


Species Spotlight

North American river otter.
Photo by Joe Ferreira. [CC BY 2.0]
North American river otter (Lontra canadensis)

Cheers to 2019! We're ready to go, you? We’re energized by the growing momentum across the region around nature-connected communities. For this month's Species Spotlight, we were searching for the perfect local lifeform that captured our current mood and outlook for the year. We simply had to go with Lontra canadensis.

North American river otters are skilled survivors. Ecologically, they are an invaluable link between aquatic and terrestrial habitats. They're extremely adaptable, resourceful, curious, energetic, social, vocal, and love to play. (In many ways, they are our spirit animal.) They also are a living symbol of the ever-evolving balance between humans and the living world.

Just a century ago, L. canadensis was on the brink of extinction. Prized for their pelts, they were nearly eliminated due to unregulated takes. Then in the 1980s and early 1990s, Missouri, Illinois, and other states began otter restoration efforts. Thanks to these efforts, along with the improvement of stream conditions, otters are once again found throughout our region. As populations rebounded, however, not everybody celebrated. In Missouri, the booming otter population caught the ire of recreational anglers. In addition to farm ponds and aquaculture facilities, otters found the fishing easy in headwater streams and tributaries of the central Ozarks. At one point, some anglers argued that “there wasn’t enough room for otters and fishermen in the Ozarks.” Today, conservation agencies use regulated trapping to maintain healthy otter populations within the tolerance levels of both habitats and people – a sensitive balance for sure.

Did you know? The Midwest’s largest member of the weasel family, L. canadensis can be found anyplace beavers can be found, including marine and fresh water, rivers, lakes, ponds, and marshes. Beavers tend to make areas way more inviting for otters, with abandoned beaver dens serving as favorite places for resting and raising young. Pools and wetlands created by beaver dams are also ideal places for otters to search for food, preying on practically anything that’s available. Today, bioaccumulation of pollutants in the food chain poses a potential threat; L. canadensis prefers unpolluted water with minimal human disturbance.

Conservation tip: Otters need quality wetlands and woodlands along the streams and rivers they call home. If you live near a creek or stream, get more involved with its riparian restoration, keeping the banks stabilized with native trees, shrubs, and other plants. Do everything you can to prevent fertilizers and other pollutants from washing into streams. Otters and others will thank you!

Great Reads

Fragments. Our usual reaction to this word is a negative one. We envision small, isolated patches just taking up space and making us sad. But this pair of articles – one from the end of 2018 and one penned in the midst of the current partial government shutdown – frames fragments as the true opportunities they are.  Whether found in urban settings or wide, open spaces, these unassuming tufts of life are like Nature’s way of saying, “I’M STILL HERE.”  Connecting them into viable corridors and functional living systems could be humanity’s way of saying, “THANK YOU.”

The small patch of bush over your back fence might be key to a species’ survival
By Brendan Wintle and Sarah Bekessy (December 2018)

To preserve US national parks in a warming world, reconnect fragmented public lands
By Stephen Nash (2019)


Let's Map It!


Sandstone Canyon Trail
at Don Robinson State Park | Cedar Hill, MO

Among the newest parks in the state of Missouri, Don Robinson State Park is one of those great, slightly quirky success stories we love.  A businessman who made his fortune selling a super-popular cleaning product wanted to acquire enough land to rival that of Central Park in New York, exactly 843 acres. Don Robinson did just that, then donated the land to the state, leaving a legacy for all to enjoy. Opened to the public in 2017, Don Robinson State Park is located in Jefferson County just south of the LaBarque Creek Conservation Area. It boasts 6.8 miles of trails that wind through cliffs, box canyons, glades, outcrops, shelter caves, upland and bottomland forests, and a spectacular overlook complete with rocking chairs. It’s home to approximately 650 species of plants, including vascular plants, mosses, and ferns, including several state-listed plant and animal species of conservation concern (partridge berry, four-toed salamander). 

We recommend the Sandstone Canyon Trail, a 4-mile hike of pure loveliness anytime of year. It starts as a paved wheelchair-friendly path, then eventually turns to gravel as it heads down into the canyon. Take a friend or two and breathe it all in.


Featured Partner Programs

Milkweeds for Monarchs logo   Bring Conservation Home logo   Operation Clean Stream logo   Show Me Rain Gardens logo
A Community Initiative to Promote, Protect and Plan for Biodiversity Throughout the Greater St. Louis Region

Honeysuckle Sweep

March 2019
Join us for this region-wide project that gets communities involved in learning about and removing invasive bush honeysuckle.
Learn more
Volunteers remove bush honeysuckle


Nearby Nature

Nearby Nature map

Spend more of your time exploring and stewarding St. Louis' great outdoors. Download our Nearby Nature Map featuring 50 places to love and more than 100 things to do!