Douglas County leaders approve historic preservation grants for riverbank restoration, cemetery preservation projects and more

photo by: Journal-World

The west side of the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St., is pictured on Sept. 23, 2021.

A new round of conservation grants will help restore riverbanks on the Kaw, preserve grave markers at a 169-year-old cemetery in Lecompton and remove trees from historic Black Jack Battlefield, among several other projects.

At its meeting on Wednesday, the Douglas County Commission approved funding for 13 projects as part of the Natural and Cultural Heritage Conservation Grant Program, which is overseen by the county’s Heritage Conservation Council. The program had $210,000 in funding to distribute this year and was able to fund 13 of the 17 projects that submitted applications, according to a report from the HCC in the County Commission’s meeting agenda.

“Collectively, these projects tell a wide variety of stories that reflect the richness and diversity of heritage in Douglas County,” the HCC’s report said.

The largest award will go to Native Lands Restoration Collaborative, Kansas Land Trust and Kansas City WildLands, which got $68,430 for a project that will collect seeds from remnant landscapes to use in ecological restoration efforts.

Friends of the Kaw got the next-largest award, $31,600 for riverbank restoration and maintenance efforts around Douglas County. The HCC report said it would help protect the river from pollutants and provide habitats for wildlife.

Historic preservation projects also got their due. Lawson Brothers Farm Partnership got $23,000 to start planning a rehabilitation project for the historic Knud Anderson Farmstead near Vinland. The Lecompton Historical Society got $21,000 to clean, repair and preserve grave markers at the 169-year-old Maple Grove Cemetery. And the Black Jack Battlefield Trust was awarded $16,000 to remove trees from the field to more accurately represent how it looked in the mid-1800s when the battle took place.

Here are the other projects that received Natural and Cultural Heritage Conservation Grants, according to the HCC report:

• Several University of Kansas research entities — $10,600 for a “multi-year art and science collaboration” at the KU Field Station.

• K-State Research and Extension — $10,500 for the Douglas County Land Stewardship Assistance Program.

• Firefly Farm — $5,370 for restoration of the Dolby Barn.

• Baker University — $5,000 for signs that will celebrate and raise awareness of the 150-year-old Ivan L. Boyd Arboretum.

• Somos Lawrence and the Ballard Center — $5,000 for cultural outreach events that focus on the county’s Spanish-speaking population.

• Limestone Community School — $5,000 to develop an Indigenous language and culture curriculum.

• Winter School — $5,000 for a heritage plant guide that will be distributed throughout Douglas County.

• City of Eudora — $3,500 for projects involving Southwest City Cemetery, including new signs, an exhibit in the Eudora Community Museum and a virtual interactive map.

In addition to the $210,000 for Natural and Cultural Heritage Conservation Grants, the HCC also had $75,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding that was set aside for open space-related projects. Only two grant requests were received for this money, and both were fully funded: $15,000 to Coneflower Consulting for an art project called “Showcasing Open Space Adventure through Art,” and $10,123 for Maseualkualli Farms to do a community survey on agricultural land use, conservation efforts and more.