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Good Neighbor Program

Good Neighbor Sign

The Good Neighbor Program is a project of the Friends of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park (FoRB) to recognize and support the efforts of park neighbors who take practical and meaningful steps to maintain the health of the park.

The program asks neighbors to help keep the park healthy by making efforts in five areas that are critical to protecting and conserving natural features and wildlife:

Keep sewage out of sinkholes
Keep storm water away from streams and sinkholes
Keep invasive plants at bay
Keep pets under control
Keep in touch with the park

The sections below explain why these efforts are important and outlines specific steps park neighbors can take in each of these areas.

Park neighbors who sign the Good Neighbor agreement can receive a Good Neighbor sign and be recognized on this page for their efforts

Good Neighbor Agreement

If you are interested in being part of this program, print out the agreement, read through it, initial each section, sign and provide contact information and mail it to FoRB, P.O. Box 7642, Columbia MO 65205




Keep sewage out of sinkholes

What: A Good Neighbor’s on-site wastewater treatment system is constructed, operated and maintained following the recommendations of the Boone County guidelines to Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems and Soil Properties.

Why: Household sewage and wastewater contain bacteria and viruses that can cause diseases like hepatitis A, cholera, salmonellosis, shigellosis, typhoid fever, giardia and cryptosporidiosis. Wastewater also contains high concentrations of nutrients that can cause algal blooms that lead eventually to low oxygen levels when the algae die and decay. This can harm fish and other stream animals. Finally, household chemicals used for cleaning that go down drains and medicines that go through our bodies can be toxic to stream and cave animals, aquatic insects and microorganisms.

In karst areas, water released onto the land typically flows through cracks in the bedrock directly into underground streams. Besides contaminating the cave ecosystem and harming its wildlife, the streams eventually make their way to the surface where nutrients and chemicals can harm stream wildlife, and bacteria and viruses can make people who use the stream for recreation sick.

How: The four key steps to take are:

  1. Know exactly what kind of on-site system you have – a Wastewater Stabilization Pond (lagoon), a Conventional Septic System (septic tank  and lateral field), or some kind of alternative system, and find out whether your property sits on karst.
  2. Know what your system looks and smells like when it is operating properly. Lagoons should have a light green color and have no smell except for a few days in fall or spring when the water turns over. Septic systems should not smell and water should not pond in the lateral field.
  3. Follow recommended maintenance schedules. Lagoons should be fenced, their berms mowed and trees kept 50 ft away to allow sunlight and air movement to increase decomposition. Plants growing in the lagoon should be removed.  Septic tank filters should be hosed down every 6 months,  and tanks should be inspected yearly and pumped out every 3 to 5 years.
  4. Consider upgrading your system to take advantage of new technologies that are more effective, or work with others to connect to city or county sewage treatment systems.

Boone County Guide to Onsite Systems http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/Health/Wastewater_Systems/documents/



Keep storm water away from streams

What: Good Neighbors are familiar with watershed protection and storm water issues and, where possible, use best management practices (BMPS) to minimize the flow of storm water into streams and sinkholes.

Why: Storm water is any water from precipitation that drains off the surface of the land. There are two main issues with storm water: the amount that flows off ,and what is in it. When most or all of the water from a precipitation event runs off the land as it falls, it can flood nearby streams and roads and cause severe erosion. Later, in drier months, the water that failed to percolate through the soil into the aquifer because it ran off, is not available to recharge stream flow and serve stream animals.. The second issue, what is in storm water, is due to the tendency for flowing water to pick up and carry away whatever lies on the surface into the nearest waterway. The most common pollutant carried by storm water is sediment, which can clog the gills of stream animals and plug spaces between rocks used by stream animals. cut off sunlight for algae and other aquatic plants. If the storm water flows across yards or fields, it can pick up any applied pesticides and fertilizers. If the storm water flows across driveways, streets, roads and parking lots, it can pick up a host of chemicals shed by cars and trucks in their everyday operation. These include particles of exhaust, tiny bits of tire, and oil and other chemicals that leak from engines.

How: The four key steps to take are:

  1. Understand what a watershed is and in which watershed you are located.
  2. Walk your yard or property during a rainstorm (unless it is thundering!) and observe how and where the water flows off your property, whether over the surface or into a sinkhole.
  3. Learn about Best Management Practices or BMPs for residential property. These include rain barrels, rain gardens, wetland swales and detention ponds. Consider incorporating one or more BMPs to help hold storm water on your property, direct it away from streams and sinkholes, or to keep it from being contaminated.
  4. For pesticides, cleaners and other chemicals, consider alternatives, follow label instructions and dispose of properly.


Columbia Public Works Storm Water Education  - http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/PublicWorks/StormWater/



Keep invasive plants at bay

What: Good Neighbors survey their property at least once a year to monitor for the presence of invasive plants, and if found, takes steps to remove them and/or prevent the production of seeds that can be spread by birds onto park property.

Why: Invasive plants are introduced species that thrive at the expense of native vegetation. Unlike crop plants, they don’t need any help from humans to survive and spread. Over time they may completely replace the native plants with a monoculture of one or a few species. With the loss of the native plant community, the insects and other wildlife dependent on the native plants will also begin to disappear. For example, bush honeysuckle leafs out early in spring and stays green late into the fall which will prevent spring wildflowers from getting the sun they need and prevent young oak and hickory trees from growing.  Without the nuts and acorns produced by oaks and hickories, wildlife such as deer and wild turkey will feel the effect of less food.  Even our ability to see through and walk through the woods will be affected.  

How: The three key steps to take are:

  1. Learn to recognize some common invasive plants: bush honeysuckle, wintercreeper, autumn olive, callery pear, Japanese vine honeysuckle and garlic mustard.
  2. Learn the best methods for control and eradication. Depending on the species, its location and how much it dominates an area, this might include hand pulling, cutting back, and/or applying herbicide. In particular, preventing seed production  an keep birds from spreading plants into neighboring areas.
  3. Scout your yard or land annually. If you find invasives, make and carry out a plan for preventing their spread, and if possible, eradicating them. Feel free to contact park staff for advice.  If you need assistance with the work, contact FoRB; limited resources are available.

For fact sheets and detailed recommendations on how to deal with Missouri’s invasive plants, visit the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Invasive Plants page –



Keep pets under control

What: Good Neighbors are familiar with the impacts of pets on wildlife and keeps her or his pets leashed and under control within Park boundaries, and picks up after them.

Why: In general, close encounters between wildlife and pets end badly for wildlife or for the pet. Unleashed dogs can disrupt ground nesting birds and other wildlife, even if they don’t harm them. Outdoor cats, at least in the densities found in suburban neighborhoods, can injure and kill significant numbers of birds. The impacts are not just one way either. If dogs and cats tangle with wildlife they can suffer serious wounds or even death. For example, outdoor cats have a much shorter life span than indoor cats, three years on average, compared to 15 -18 years. A second issue with pets is that their waste may carry pathogens harmful to wildlife and humans. Cat feces may have Toxoplasmosis and dog feces can contain E. coli, Salmonella, Giardia, round worm and other pathogens transmissible to humans and wildlife.  As with injuries, transmission of pathogens is not just one way. Dogs and cats can pick up diseases from wildlife and even transmit some of them to humans.

How: The four key steps to take are;

  1. If you have pets or are considering getting a pet, learn more about the impacts that pets can have on wildlife and vice versa.
  2. Make sure all pets are up-to-date on their vaccinations and that their waste, as much as possible, is kept away from streams and sinkholes where it might contaminate the water supply for wildlife and people.
  3. While in the Park, follow regulations regarding pets. Pets should be kept on a leash (no longer than 10ft) and under control at all times. Be prepared to clean up your pet’s waste if you walk it in the park.
  4. If you can no longer care for a pet, take it to the Central Missouri Humane Society or similar facility, where it will have the best chance of finding a new home. It’s chances of survival on its own in the wild are near zero.

Audubon Magazine

Park Regulations - http://mostateparks.com/page/55057/pets

Central Missouri  Humane Society - http://www.cmhspets.org



Keep in touch with the park

What: A Good Neighbor is familiar with Rock Bridge Memorial State Park’s rules, policies, programs, resources and staff, and with issues facing parks in urbanizing areas, so that she or he is comfortable contacting the Park with their questions and concerns.

Why: Rock Bridge Memorial State Park exists in a rapidly urbanizing area. As Columbia grows, residential and commercial development will continue to replace the farmland that currently dominates the park’s borders. When issues develop either for the park or for the landowner, it’s important to communicate and resolve the matters in a neighborly way.

How: Below are several ways to develop and maintain a neighborly relationship with the Park staff and be aware of Park rules,, projects, activities and its responsibilities to the people of the state of Missouri.

  1. Learn more about the park by visiting its website. The site has a map of the park, events, information on activities to do in the park, and general information about its history and natural history.
  2. Talk with the park naturalist or superintendent by phone or in person at the park office or by email if you prefer.  For in-person, it’s best to call and make an appointment.    
  3. Attend a park event.
  4. Attend an informational meeting, held once a year, to learn about park news and give feedback or suggestions to park staff. The date is posted on the park’s web page.
  5. Like Friends of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park (FoRB) on Facebook
  6. Join the Friends of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park. You will receive a monthly e-newsletter with information on upcoming projects and events.

Rock Bridge MSP