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Shawnee Mission Park Off-Leash Area to be closed Sept. 1 and 2
POSTED: 08/20/2009
The Shawnee Mission Park Dog Off-Leash Area will be closed to all public use on Tuesday, Sept. 1, and Wednesday, Sept. 2, Johnson County Park & Recreation District officials announced.

The off-leash area is being closed on these days for maintenance efforts which will include enhancing trails, erosion control efforts, and eradication of the exotic and invasive noxious weed, sericea or Chinese lespedeza. In case of inclement weather, the maintenance work at the Off-Leash area could be postponed. Please watch the District's website,, for announcements.

"Lespedeza will completely overtake a seasonal grass field," explained Shawnee Mission Park Senior Manager Grant Evans. "It lessens the diversity and eliminates the seasonal grasses, the wildflowers and all the other plants causing a field to become a total monoculture."

Evans estimated lespedeza can currently be found on about 10 to 15 of the Off-Leash Area's 51 acres.

Sericea lespedeza is a shrubby perennial growing to a height of two to five feet. It has mostly white flowers that may be tinged with purple. The plant's leaves are clustered in groups of three and are blunt near the tip where they are wider than the base of the leaf. Another distinctive feature is the vertical grooves on the stems.

Sericea lespedeza was introduced in Kansas as a forage and erosion control plant for poor soils, but because it tends to crowd out native plants and is difficult to control, it has become a serious threat to hay meadows and rangeland. In 1999 sericea lespedeza was reported in 50 Kansas counties, primarily in the eastern third of the state. It has been considered a noxious weed in Kansas since 2000.

It should be noted that there are also several native species of bush clovers, also known as lespedezas, which are considered desirable because they add fertility to soil, nourish grasses and other plants, and are an important food source for quail and other birds.

Shawnee Mission Park is owned and operated by the Johnson County Park and Recreation District and is located at 7900 Renner Road, Shawnee and Lenexa. Regular park hours are 5:00 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily through Nov. 1.

For more information, contact Community Relations Manager Randy Knight at (913) 894-3323 or Senior Park Manager Grant Evans at (913) 438-7275.

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