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Webster Groves Nature Study Society Marks 100 Years

Alfred Satterthwait working on his insect collection at his home 118 Waverly Ave., Webster Groves, ~1930. WGNSS Archives.

by Don Corrigan

The Webster Groves Nature Study Society (WGNSS) was set to mark an entire century of existence this April. A coronavirus pandemic has crushed all the organization’s “best laid plans” to celebrate its past, present and future.

“Our 100th Anniversary Banquet for May 12 is canceled. Our ‘Night to Remember’ on  April 1 is canceled. Our ceremony with the Mayor of Webster Groves on city hall’s front lawn for April 3 is canceled,” lamented Richard Thoma, the past president and first vice president of WGNSS.

“Obviously, the pandemic is hurting a lot more people and canceling more important things than what we are all about – but this hurts,” said Thoma. “It has also canceled three nature outings and set back the publication of our memorial book, “One Hundred Years of the Webster Groves Nature Study Society.”

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MDC Temporarily Waives Fishing Permits Starting March 27

Starting March 27, people may fish in Missouri without a permit through April 15.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Missouri Conservation Commission announce they are temporarily waiving permit requirements for sport fishing and daily trout tags for Missouri residents and nonresidents whose fishing privileges are not otherwise suspended.

The waiver of needing a permit or trout tag to fish will run from Friday, March 27, through April 15. MDC will reassess the situation at that point. All season dates and limits will continue to apply and be enforced. 

“The current public-health emergency caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) has many Missourians and others looking for safe ways to get outside in nature,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “Missouri’s rivers and streams offer high quality fishing as a way for people to connect with nature while still complying with all health and safety recommendations. Fishing is also a great way to get some much needed physical and mental health benefits during this stressful time.”

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Painful Shutdown of Environmental Meetings in St. Louis

By Don Corrigan

It’s painful for Environmental Echo to receive the notices of closings and cancellations of nature outings, green activities and environmental meetings due to the coronavirus pandemic that now affects the St. Louis area and more than 140 countries.

This spreading disease is deadly serious, environmentally destructive and totally global in consequence. Obviously, it was mistake for the administration to fire the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Pandemic Response Team two years ago.

It might be time to reconsider the firing of that unit, as well as the quashing of the annual reports out of the U.S. Defense Department on “Preparing the United States for Impacts of Climate Change,” which were started in 2013. Those reports include information on pandemics.

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Gateway Greening Update

A note from Gateway Greening Executive Director Matt Schindler.
To our Gateway Greening supporters,
This is a tough time for St. Louis, for the US, and for the world. COVID-19 is affecting all of our lives. For Gateway Greening, we have canceled all of our public classes and workshops through May 11, canceled a fundraiser, closed our office to the public, and are postponing the installment of new gardens and garden expansions. We are also going to postpone our new Garden Open House that was scheduled for May 9.

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MDC Closes Nature Centers and Visitor Centers

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) announced it will close its nature centers, visitor centers, and education centers around the state to visitors effective Thursday, March 19, to help protect the public amid ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns. The indoor facilities will be closed to the public through April 15 and MDC will reassess the situation at that point. Nature center trails remain open.

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50th Anniversary St. Louis Earth Day Festival Postponed

The Executive Director of earthday365 released information about this years Earth Day Festival. Please read his letter below.

A Letter From the Executive Director,

At earthday365, we put a priority on good citizenship. In order to limit the potential spread of COVID-19, at this moment, being a good citizen is not consistent with hosting the St. Louis Earth Day Festival on April 25th & 26th. For this reason, and under the guidance of the Public Health Department, we must announce the postponement of the 50th Anniversary St. Louis Earth Day Festival.

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Frogwatch USA Looking For Citizen Scientists

photo courtesy of Saint Louis FrogWatch Chapter

Saint Louis Zoo training sessions set for March 13, 19 and April 3.

Jump in and become a FrogWatch USA volunteer with the Saint Louis Zoo! St. Louis-area “citizen scientists” are needed to monitor frogs and toads from their backyards, parks, fields, creeks or just about anywhere. The information gathered can ultimately lead to practical and workable ways to stop amphibian decline.

 
You do not have to be a frog or toad expert to join FrogWatch. You won’t even need to see or touch these amazing amphibians to participate. All you need is an interest in frogs and toads and the time to attend a training session. You’ll be asked to make a commitment to monitor a site of your choosing for at least three minutes twice a week throughout the frogs’ breeding season, which ranges from about February to August.
 
“In just a couple of hours, we will train you to distinguish the croaks, peeps and various calls of the 10 most common frog and toad species around the St. Louis area,” says Michael Dawson, Conservation Education Liaison at the Zoo and coordinator of the St. Louis chapter of FrogWatch USA. “Breeding calls vary greatly and are often mistaken for birds or insects. Their volume ranges from a soft musical trill to a deafening chorus.”

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To Arms! For U.S. Gray Squirrels!

by Don Corrigan

Funky Winkerbean’s cartoon creator,  Tom Batiuk, is  on a roll about squirrels. Hundreds of readers sent me his comic strips on squirrels.  Actually, more than hundreds – enough people to fill up the  National Mall on Inauguration Day! 

Funky Winkerbean may be tickling people’s fancy with this comic squirrel subterfuge, but the actual truth about the American Gray Squirrel is no laughing matter. So, let’s get on it. 

Headlines in Britain now are all about the Royals’ big crisis and strife involving the Queen, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. It’s a hoax, folks. The headlines are a smokescreen. The stories should be about Prince Charles and his war against American Gray Squirrels. It’s a dirty little war. It has taken an ugly turn.
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Solving Climate Change With A Trillion Trees

Mark Grueber of the Missouri Department of Conservation surveys trees at the Powder Valley Nature Center, which serves as his work location for the MDC. Photo by Diana Linsley (WKT)

By Don Corrigan (Webster-Kirkwood Times)

With wildfires raging globally and 2019 being the second hottest year on record, even climate change skeptics are starting to look for answers. Could planting a trillion trees reduce carbon pollution and spur a needed cool down?

The trillion trees idea got a big boost last month at the World Economic Forum. Planting trees does present an easier solution than reducing fossil fuel use. Even President Donald Trump said the U.S. would sign onto a tree campaign.

Local tree and horticultural experts are pleased that some movement on the climate change issue seems to be in the works, but they argue that planting trees is no panacea for a problem that is taking a toll on Planet Earth.

“There are many facets to this discussion about trees and climate change, and most of them do have some merit,” said Jerald Pence, coordinator for the horticulture program at St. Louis Community College at Meramec in Kirkwood. His responsibilities include managing an 11-acre garden on the Meramec campus.

“I do think that it’s important to understand that there is rarely a ‘silver bullet’ solution that will fix a big problem so easily,” added Pence.  “I think it’s great that something is happening to at least begin a needed discussion.”

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Society of Environmental Journalists Celebrates 30 Years

Front row, left to right: Kevin Carmody, Sarah Thurin Rollin, Bruce Ritchie, Beth Parke, Marla Cone, JoAnn Valenti Center row, left to right: Mike Mansur, Don Corrigan, David Ropeik, Peter Fairley, Kathy Sagan, ID missing, Tom Meersman, ID missing, ID missing, Julie Edelman, Angela Swafford Back row, left to right: ID missing, Jay Letto, Chris Bowman, George Homsey, Russ Clemings, Gary Lee, Emilia Askari, Chris Rigel (now Bruggers), Gary Polakovic, Jim Bruggers, Noel Grove (Photo: SEJ)

Environmental Echo applauds the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) on the organization’s 30 years of advocating for nature, ecology and the environment.

EE’s Don Corrigan was in Boulder, Colorado, with SEJ when the organization debated its vision, mission and objectives. He has attended its annual conventions, which always are highlighted by field trips and a week-long intensive foray into nature to explore vital issues. He has been active with SEJ’s college teaching committees on environmental teaching and coursework. (Corrigan is pictured in the middle row – second from left.)

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