This award is given in recognition of successful efforts to influence public policy relating to trail planning, trail protection, trail development, or maintenance.
Dan and Connie Burkhardt are being nominated for their efforts to protect the scenic and rural landscape that parallels Katy Trail State Park, a 240-mile rail-trail conversion that spans nearly the entire width of Missouri.
The Katy Trail was made possible by a generous donation from the late Edward D. “Ted” Jones, Jr., and his wife, Pat. Ted was the son of the founder of the Edward Jones financial services firm.
Dan and Connie, retired partners of the Edward Jones firm, were inspired by this donation and wanted to ensure the continuation of Ted and Pat Jones’ early vision of Katy Trail State Park.
Working in collaboration with Ozark Regional Land Trust, Dan and Connie founded the Katy Land Trust in 2010. The mission of the Katy Land Trust is to work cooperatively with landowners along the Katy Trail to conserve their farms and forests.
The Katy Land Trust provides information to landowners about conservation practices, including land conservation agreements, and then works with interested landowners to implement them. To date, over 300 acres have been protected through conservation easements through the Katy Land Trust.
In addition to founding the Katy Land Trust, Dan and Connie were the first to enter a conservation easement with the Katy Land Trust, setting aside their 220-acre farm north of the Katy Trail near Marthasville, MO.
Tireless in their efforts to encourage landowners to protect the farms and forested areas along the trail as well as to emphasize the significant agricultural heritage associated with this area of Missouri, the Burkhardts have partnered with the Katy Land Trust in organizing an annual “Run for the Farms” event for the past two years. The 5K run serves a dual purpose of fundraising and promoting the mission of the Katy Land Trust.
Additionally, Dan and Connie have taken on a special project of preserving the historic grain elevators on the Katy Trail corridor. These elevators serve as tangible evidence of the link between the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, now Katy Trail State Park, and the adjacent farmland. The Burkhardts secured the assistance of nationally-recognized artist Bryan Haynes, who allowed two of his rural Missouri landscape paintings to be recreated as banners. These banners now hang from a grain elevator at the trail’s Treloar trailhead, as a highly visible reminder to trail users and nearby landowners of the importance of preserving agricultural resources and forests along the Katy Trail.