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.


Species Spotlight

Scarlet tanager
Scarlet tanager (Piranga olivacea).
© Brian Sullivan / Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab
Scarlet tanager (Piranga olivacea)

Its unmistakable coloration and calls help birders of all levels confidently ID this brilliant bird as it breeds, flits, and forages in our forests this time of year. A long-distance neo-tropical migrant and member of the cardinal family, Piranga olivacea is small and secretive. It typically seeks out the forest interior, preferring contiguous tracts with plenty of buffer all around – tracts that are less and less available due to fragmentation and other threats. Breeding bird surveys since 1966 indicate a relatively stable population, but with a slight decline in areas of intensive agriculture.

To do: Visit a large forest near you, perhaps this month’s “Let’s Map It” feature, hike slowly and listen. P. olivacea’s song is robin-like, “zerreet-zeerer-zerruu” or “queret-querer-queer-queret,” while its call is a distinctive “CHIP-burr.”

Think about it: P. olivacea was one of 1,100 species that citizen scientists documented in the St. Louis region during the recent 2018 City Nature Challenge, held April 27-30, 2018 in nearly 70 cities around the world. However, the observation wasn’t in a remote reserve, but in our very own Tower Grove Park, testament to the power of urban forests, parks, and nature-rich neighborhoods.
Great Reads

Passed every four to five years, the 2014 Farm Bill is set to expire this year, and every single person should care. This ginormous piece of federal legislation touches all of us, impacting the food we eat, where and how it's grown, food equity, the future of rural communities, and conservation of land, soil, water, and wildlife. Right now in the halls of Congress, our elected officials are considering updates that may or may not result in healthy people, healthy farm economies, and a healthy environment. To help you navigate, understand, and take action, our "Great Reads" for the month pairs a timely opinion piece from freelancer Andy McGlashen with a more pragmatic toolkit of talking points, sample letters, and links curated by our colleagues at Missouri Prairie Foundation and Conservation Federation of Missouri.


Let's Map It!

Kaskaskia River Kaskaskia River State Fish & Wildlife Area
AND Kaskaskia River Forest Corridor

Located just 35 miles southeast of downtown St. Louis is one of the largest state-owned and managed sites in Illinois, the 20,000-acre Kaskaskia River State Fish & Wildlife Area (KRFWA). While significant in size, this area sits within an even larger tract, the Kaskaskia River Forest Corridor – the largest contiguous forest in the state of Illinois. Encompassing five Illinois counties, the corridor contains 6,700 acres of upland forest, 35,540 acres of bottomland forest, 1,448 acres of wetlands, 31,689 acres of grassland, roughly 115,000 acres of cropland, 3,000 acres of open water, and about 4,000 acres of urban residential area

In addition to the KRFWA, this impressive river corridor includes 10 state natural areas, 31.1 miles of biologically significant stream, 28 natural heritage sites, one state park, and some federal land. The remainder of the land is in private ownership. Designated as an Important Bird Area, its contiguous nature is what attracts the inner-forest birds, including this month’s Species Spotlight, the scarlet tanager, as well as other neotropical migrants: cerulean warbler, brown creeper, prothonotary warbler, Cape May warbler, and indigo bunting. Colonies of snowy egret, great egret, little blue heron, great blue heron, and crowned night-heron nest here as well.

Kaskaskia River State Fish & Wildlife Area
Kaskaskia River


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

Participate in the STL City Nature Challenge 2018

City Nature Challenge

April 27–30
The challenge is to see which city and/or region can document the most species over a four-day period. The goals are increased eco-literacy in the City of St. Louis and the bi-state region and collection of urban biodiversity data throughout the City and region. Follow competition

St. Louis City Events
St. Louis Regional Events
Participant Guide
Educator Guide
Field ID Guides

Update: Friday, May 4
Together, as fellow citizens within the City of St. Louis and the 16 counties making up our bi-state region, we made 10,482 observations of 1,023 species with the help of more than 642 people. TAKE A BOW!

Kudos to San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas, Hong Kong and metro regions across the U.S. and world for their impressive results! While this was St. Louis' first foray into the global challenge, we came in first in the Midwest region...again, TAKE A BOW, ST. LOUIS! Final leaderboard

THANK YOU! We are so incredibly inspired by all of you who jumped in with us to take on this Challenge. Your enthusiasm, expertise, creativity, and willingness to collaborate is what brought the experience to life for all participants. We learned a great deal, thanks to all of you, and are already excited about ideas and strategies for next year. For now, though, let's take a moment to reflect on what we pulled off together, all in the spirit of connecting people with the biodiversity all around them. How incredibly gratifying and energizing!

Gratefully, Your STL City Nature Challenge organizing team:

  • Catherine Werner (City of St. Louis) 
  • Sheila Voss, Jennifer Hartley, and Betsy Crites (Missouri Botanical Garden)
  • Louise Bradshaw and Mike Dawson (Saint Louis Zoo)
  • Josh Ward (Missouri Department of Conservation) 
  • Peggy James Nacke (Academy of Science St. Louis


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!


Volunteer Opportunities