The Mark Youngdahl Urban Conservation Area is nestled in the heart of St. Joseph.
This area was acquired by the Missouri Department of Conservation in 1983 and has been developed to demonstrate urban conservation while providing a place for quality outdoor recreation.
The Mark Youngdahl Urban Conservation Area features a two-mile trail system that takes you throughout the area. The Ridge Trail (3/4-mile long) and the Pond Trail (2/3-mile long) are paved and accessible to disabled visitors. The Marsh Trail (3/5-mile long) is graveled and non accessible. Two disabled-accessible picnic shelters and restrooms are also available.
A two-acre wetland and other small wildlife watering holes are too shallow to stock with fish but attract other forms of aquatic life, including waterfowl, turtles, and amphibians.
Visitors can enjoy other wildlife that have found this small refuge in St. Joseph. White-tailed deer and bobwhite quail have occasionally been observed in the wooded draws. Foxes, raccoons, opossums, rabbits, and numerous kinds of birds can also be seen.
The Conservation Department has planted wildflower meadows and prairie grasses. More than 75 species of native and non-native trees were planted throughout the area in 1997 to display the different kinds of trees that are commonly planted in the urban landscapes across Missouri. Tree identification booklets are available free of charge at the Northwest Regional Office located at 701 James McCarthy Dr, St. Joseph.
This conservation area is named in honor of Mark Youngdahl, who served as a member of the Missouri House of Representatives from 1970 to 1990 and was a member of the St. Joseph City Council at the time of his death in 1994. As a state representative, Mark Youngdahl worked diligently to acquire this urban area for the Missouri Department of Conservation and took an active interest in its development. He also served as the first chairman of the St. Joseph Tree Board. As chairman, he led the drive to write a new city tree ordinance and helped St. Joseph become a Tree City U.S.A. for the first time in 1993.