People who live in Mid-Missouri know they have something special. There are serene forests and subterranean caves interlaced with trails. There are striking bluff views across the mighty Missouri River. And, of course, there are farmsteads that feed the local economy and the world.
The Greenbelt Land Trust of Mid-Missouri doesn’t take any of it for granted. In fact, the non-profit is working to preserve streams, forests, grasslands, and farmlands for future generations to enjoy.
Founded in 1993 as the Greenbelt Coalition, the group became an official land trust in 2004 after accepting its first conservation easements and nature preserve.
We checked in with Executive Director Mike Powell to see what’s on the horizon for this forward-thinking group:
What’s the motivation and mission behind your group?
To conserve the streams, forests, grasslands, and farmlands that represent our distinctive landscape for present and future generations. We do this because we love Mid-Missouri! It’s a place with a wonderful natural and agricultural heritage, and we want our children and grandchildren to be able to enjoy it the way we do.
What kind of progress have you seen in the community?
We’ve done a lot of great work, protecting nearly 700 acres of land in our area, both in public nature preserves and private conservation easements, and we have been glad to support other great projects, like the creation of Stephens Lake Park, the expansion of Columbia’s trail network, and the creation of new parks.
What are you most proud of?
Our New Hundred Acre Woods Nature Preserve. It was owned by longtime Columbia conservationists Jim and Joanna Whitley, who intended to protect it with Greenbelt, but, after they passed away, we ended up having to withdraw when the property was the subject of a lawsuit. Luckily, a friend of the Whitleys purchased it at auction last year and anonymously donated it to Greenbelt, and now we'll be able to steward it forever and use it as an outdoor classroom, the way Jim and Joanna intended.
That’s an amazing story! What’s next up for your group?
We’re in the very early stages of putting together a Farm and Food program that’s designed to conserve important agricultural land and connect aging landowners with young farmers in need of land. It’s an opportunity to do a lot of wonderful things!
What community events would you like people to know about?
We’ve partnered with PedNet the last few years to celebrate Bike, Walk, and Wheel Week
(May 11-19). One of my favorite parts of the week is Hinkson Happy Hour (May 15), a celebration of our Hinkson Valley Nature Preserve. The event is, basically, a nature walk with beer. Attendees purchase a commemorative cup, which comes with a couple pours of beer, and get to spend a few hours enjoying the wonderful Hinkson Valley forest and trail.
How can people get involved?
We regularly host volunteer work days on our properties. Then there are events like Hinkson Happy Hour and our annual Deep Roots Dinner, which will be Sept. 22 this year.
Tell us more about Deep Roots.
It’s a celebration of everything that makes Mid-Missouri great, including local food, beer, wine, and outstanding music. It's a great time. And, of course, donations are always appreciated and can be made securely online
or by mail to Greenbelt Land Trust of Mid-Missouri, PO Box 144, Columbia, MO 65205.
If you’re inspired and want to get involved, you can find Greenbelt Land Trust of Mid-Missouri
on Facebook (@greenbeltmissouri), Twitter (@GreenbeltMO), and Instagram (@greenbeltmissouri).
StorageMart and the Greenbelt Land Trust of Mid-Missouri
At StorageMart, it’s our honor to support non-profits working to make the world a better place, including Greenbelt Land Trust of Mid-Missouri. One way we do that is by providing free storage space to Greenbelt, so that the non-profit can keep all of its gear in a central, secure location rather than scattered across the homes of staff and volunteers.
“It's made a huge difference,” says Executive Director Mike Powell, “especially to me, since I don't have to keep dozens of pairs of loppers in my garage anymore.”
Learn more about StorageMart’s Store It Forward