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Operation Wild Lands

Operation Wild Lands

The Operation Wild Lands (OWLs) program works with volunteers of all ages to restore and maintain public lands throughout the St. Louis region.  Volunteers assist with the proactive management of public open spaces to improve wildlife habitats and nature-related outdoor recreation.

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Recognizing that natural habitats are a precious resource and that most of the public-owned urban wild acreage in the St. Louis region is passively managed as a matter of practicality, The Open Space Council for the St. Louis Region created OWLs to help facilitate ongoing wildlife habitat improvements that include:

  • Area cleanups
  • Trail development and maintenance
  • Invasive species removal and native plant re-vegetation
  • Tree plantings
  • Greenway Maintenance
  • Educational field trips

Volunteers from all backgrounds and skill levels are invited to join us for these fun group events. If you have a group of volunteers, you may also contact us, and we will do our best to get you set up with an OWLs event for your group.


Back to Nature Honeysuckle Hack at Crestwood Park

As a part of our Operation Wild Lands program, The Open Space Council is partnering with the City of Crestwood’s Beautification Committee’s #Back2Nature Project to remove the invasive Bush Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) shrub from Crestwood Park. We have two upcoming dates for this event, September 24th and November 12th. Join us from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM for a great Saturday morning of invasive species removal! Registration and more information can be found here. Check out our latest blog post featuring these upcoming events with the City of Crestwood!

MDC Back To Nature StL Grant:

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) works with and for communities to sustain healthy fish, forests, and wildlife. One of the ways it does this is by offering funding for conservation-friendly projects in St. Louis area parks through a unique partnership and funding opportunity: The Back to Nature StL Grant.

This grant program supports terrestrial and aquatic habitat improvement in urban area parks, encouraging partnerships for supporting community conservation efforts, native habitat restoration and long-term natural landscape management, and engaging the public through conservation education and volunteer opportunities. The City of Crestwood was recently awarded this grant through the MDC Back To Nature StL program to conduct various habitat restoration projects at Crestwood Park, including invasive species removal, stream restoration, woodland enhancement, and prairie savanna wetland, and pollinator gardens.


If you are interested in participating in the Community Stewardship Alliance Program (CSA) or becoming a Community Stewardship Alliance Team Member please visit our CSA page.

For upcoming volunteer opportunities with OWLS and the CSA, please check our Volunteer Page or by signing up for the electronic newsletter (signup on the right).


We are also launching a tool loaning service this year. If your organization or group has an event in the community coming up, you can now reach out to us, and we will do our best, pending availability, to provide the necessary tools through this lending program. Interested parties simply need to complete this form and follow the instructions to set up supply pick up and make arrangements to return the items. 

For questions about this program, contact andrew@openspacestl.org or give us a call at (314)835-9225

Learn more about invasive plants and how to identify and control them here.

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