LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Have you noticed that some of the grass on Jefferson County Public Schools property is a bit longer this summer?

The district, as a member of the Green City Partnership and in working with the Louisville Metro Office of Sustainability, has designated 18 sites -- ranging from small patches of ground to entire fields -- as Urban Reforestation Sites. It will allow them to return to their natural state.

The sites are owned by the district but not in use by the schools and have been mowed by district employees in the past.

District officials said the purpose of the initiative will have three main benefits: reducing emissions from less mowing, combating the urban heat island by having more mature green spaces and reintroducing native trees and plants to the designated areas.

The sites -- each of which is marked with an aluminum sign -- will be allowed to return to their natural state over the coming year, and many of the natural trees that begin to grow, such as cedar, oak, maple, and cherry trees, will be allowed to flourish.

Officials say the effort is expected to help the environment and save money on the roughly 1,200 acres that are mowed and maintained by the district. The “no mow zones” are similar to many areas of The Parklands, in which plots of fields and wetlands are not mowed but allowed to return to a more natural state.

When asked how much money this will save JCPS, officials said more insight into savings and progress will be gathered in the coming year.

"This initiative is not about cost savings," said Michael Raisor, chief operations officer for JCPS. "It’s about restoring the urban tree canopy. Obviously, mowing less ground should result in less time, gasoline, and maintenance, but our bigger focus is less pollution from less mowing and greater carbon dioxide reduction from increased green spaces."

Here are the 18 sites:

- Atherton High, 300 Dundee Road

- Auburndale Elementary, 5749 New Cut Road

- Burks Bus Compound, 6409 Gellhaus Lane

- Fairdale High, 1001 Fairdale Road

- Fern Creek High, 9115 Fern Creek Road

- Frost Sixth-Grade Academy, 13700 Sandray Boulevard

- Thomas Jefferson Middle, 1501 Rangeland Road

- Klondike Lane Elementary, 3807 Klondike Lane

- Laukhuf Elementary, 5100 Capewood Drive

- Medora Elementary, 11801 Deering Road

- Shelby Traditional Academy, 735 Ziegler Street

Slaughter Elementary, 3805 Fern Valley Road

South Park TAPP, 1010 Neighborhood Place

Stuart Middle, 4601 Valley Station Road

George Unseld Early Childhood Learning Center, 5216 Ilex Avenue

- Watterson Elementary, 3900 Breckenridge Lane

- Watterson Woods, Jeffersontown

- Westport Middle, 8100 Westport Road

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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