Restoring a Natural Icon With the Help of Americorps' St. Louis Emergency Response Team

Forest Park's John F. Kennedy Memorial Forest is a unique example of forest habitat that sits in the center of a city environment. Sections of Kennedy Forest are old-growth, dating back to well before the outer limits of the city of St. Louis even made it to the land on which Forest Park now sits. The Kennedy Forest Restoration Project, made possible by a lead gift from the Mysun Charitable Foundation, is an ambitious one-year restoration plan focused on revitalizing a 10-acre portion of the forest. The project is led by Forest Park Forever, in partnership with the City of St. Louis and with considerable help from Americorps' St. Louis Emergency Response Team. 

Forest Park Forever has been partnering with Americorps on conservation efforts in Forest Park for many years. This partnership touches on the common goals of each organization to provide support and safety to the residents of St. Louis, the surrounding area and beyond. 

The Americorps crews bring a welcomed work ethic and expertise in tree felling and sawing, making sure these activities are done safely and efficiently and helping Forest Park Forever to get more work done in a shorter period of time.
— Peter VanLinn, Forest Park Forever Park Ecologist

The work being done for the Kennedy Forest Restoration Project — including removing exotic, undesirable, overgrown and invasive plant species, and excessive downed wood material — is common practice in urban forest restoration, but the scope is much larger than what has previously been done in Forest Park. Thanks to our partnership with Americorps, we are able to impact a much larger area in a much shorter timeframe. The end result will be a higher-quality habitat in these 10 acres for many years to come. Like so much of the conservation work undertaken here in Forest Park, we are advancing thoughtful projects with today's visitors in mind — but also those who will be here a century for now.

Specific Outcomes of This Project Will Include:

  • Decreased and eradicated invasive species populations
  • Increased Oak & Hickory tree health and density
  • Increased woodland grass and wildflower populations
  • Better habitat for birding
  • More accessible, engaging forest experience
  • Model for quality urban forest habitat management

Stop by Kennedy Forest next time you're in the Park to view some of these positive changes for yourself! We appreciate our visitors' interest in the work we do to improve the Park, and we also extend our gratitude for your patience, as this project may cause temporary trail blockages and closures during your visit.