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A Billion Animals Crying Out Loud

by Don Corrigan (Webster-Kirkwood Times)

I like a good bumper sticker and, “Fur Crying Out Loud,” is very effective. It is a statement against cruelty to animals and the message stays with you.

It especially stayed with me in 1981 after I wrote a feature story for our paper about the “Kirkwood Trapper.” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals came up to my office, while I was at lunch, and plastered my desk with “Fur Crying Out Loud” bumper stickers.

What kind of adhesive was on those stickers? It took me months to scrape the suckers off my desk. In the meantime, I read the articles the PETA folks left behind about steel-jawed traps and the suffering of raccoons, beavers and rabbits – and a few family pets –  that all had their legs stuck in jagged traps.

The PETA articles were reasonable enough, but the group’s guerrilla tactics seemed a little extreme. I continued to think along those lines, and was no more sympathetic, even when nude female models paraded the streets proclaiming: “We’d rather go naked than  wear fur.”

Is this really necessary?

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“For the Love of Bees” Program at Powder Valley Nature Center

Photo courtsey MDC.

The free family event will enable visitors to see and taste the work of our native pollinating heroes.

Did you know there’s a little bee in many of the foods you eat?  You don’t have to worry about getting stung though, because the bee’s already done its work long before the food ever reaches your table.

Bees are our most vital pollinators, and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is offering a chance to get to know these buzzing busybodies better, and the important work they do.   Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center will present a special program, For the Love of Bees, to celebrate Missouri’s native bees Saturday, Feb. 15, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.  The event is free and open for all ages.

Click below to read more about the “For the Love of Bees” event and how to register.

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New Missouri State Parks Director Named

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources today named Mike Sutherland as director of its Division of State Parks.

Sutherland has served as acting division director since Nov. 15, when former Division Director Ben Ellis retired. Prior to that, Sutherland served as deputy division director since joining the department in June 2017.

Before joining the Department of Natural Resources, Sutherland served as policy director for a nonprofit organization focused on budget and tax policy. His additional previous experiences include serving as the executive director of the Boonslick Regional Planning Commission, a state representative and the Warren County assessor.

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Environmentalists Challenge Ameren At Rate Hearing

by Don Corrigan (SCT)

Ameren Missouri officials answered concerns about rates, fees, coal plants, green energy and climate change at a spirited public hearing in Sunset Hills City Hall on Jan. 16. The hearing was originally slated to take up the utility’s proposed rate changes.

Several residents were skeptical of the 0.03% monthly decrease Ameren Missouri is proposing in monthly bills that would translate into an average monthly decrease of about 3 cents. They said the decrease is far offset by hikes in fixed charges that the utility also is proposing.

Warren Wood, vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs for Ameren, said the rate decrease will provide a benefit to low-income residents who have poorly-insulated homes. They require more electricity use as a result, so a rate decrease has more impact than the fixed fee hike.

“We are proposing to drop rates for a decrease in electric service revenues by approximately $800,000,” said Wood.  “We are glad to continue to see our rates be more than 20% below Midwest and national averages.”

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Lawmakers Vow To Stop Green Energy Line in Missouri

by Don Corrigan (WKT)

Kirkwood’s quest to obtain greener and cheaper electricity looked brighter after judges and state regulators gave the Grain Belt Express power line the okay. Now, state legislators are trying to turn lights out on the power line.

“The legislature is trying to stop this transmission line with bills that are now getting fast-tracked in the statehouse,” said Mark Petty, director of Kirkwood Electric Department. “We urge our residents to contact legislators and express their concern over this.”

Kirkwood is part of a coalition of city utilities, which includes Hannibal and Columbia, that have agreed to buy 500 megawatts of the cheaper power. That agreement persuaded utility regulators in the state that the transmission project bringing Kansas wind energy into Missouri and Illinois is in the public interest.

Legislators want to block the project at the behest of farmers and rural landowners who object to eminent domain being used for the project. The line would stretch 200 miles through counties in northern Missouri.

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New Missouri Legacy Waste Caucus Formed

Missouri House Communications, a nonpartisan state government office, has released information about a new Legacy Waste Caucus that will focus on Missouri’s nuclear waste issues.

Missouri has had nuclear waste issues for decades, like the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton and Cold Water Creek area in St. Louis’ North County. Grassroots efforts have been spotlighting the issues for a number of years. The Just Moms STL  is one of those groups and has been working to bring awareness to the West Lake Landfill and the adverse effects the illegally dumped nuclear waste has had on the local community.

The video below shows the members of the Caucus and explains what the focus of the group will be.

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Nature Experienced In The Classroom

Photo: Courtesy MDC

By Don Corrigan (South County Times)

It’s not exactly a dog-eat-dog world out there, but it certainly is competitive. Plants compete for sunlight. Songbirds compete for nesting sites. Predators compete for prey. And teachers compete to be the best educators they can be.

Recently, some highly-motivated teachers from across the St. Louis region convened on Powder Valley Nature Conservation Center to sharpen their skills and knowledge for teaching ecology.

The Discover Nature Schools Workshop was led by David Bruns, conservation education consultant with the Missouri Department of Conservation. Bruns encouraged teachers to get outside with their students and become familiar with the natural world.

“This is a fabulous opportunity to help teachers enable their students to experience authentic conservation practices first hand within a Missouri context,” explained Bruns, prior to the workshop on Jan. 6.

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Spend An Evening With Raptors At Powder Valley

Photo: Courtesy MDC

Bird buffs, falcon fanciers, and anyone enraptured by raptors are invited to meet the objects of their admiration close up at An Evening with Raptors.

An Evening with Raptors is a free event hosted by the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center in Kirkwood. It takes place Friday, Jan. 31 from 7-9 p.m. and is open to all ages.  The event will be joined this year by long-time MDC partner, St. Louis Sprout and About.

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The Rich Histories Of Our River Towns

Photo: Ursula Ruhl

By Don Corrigan (South County Times)

On wintry days with cold rain, ice and snow, most people of sound mind and body are warming by the gas fire and flat screen or doing yoga at the rec center. They are not thinking about their Meramec River heritage.

Sunset Hills and Fenton residents should think twice before turning their backs on the river. The muddy Meramec borders parts of each city and it’s a part of each city’s rich history.

To know a little bit about that history, it’s not at all necessary to scour library book shelves or to pound the right search words on a keyboard to find archival material on the World Wide Web. Actually, you can just put on your mukluks, a coat and ear muffs – and hit the trails on each side of the river.

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Rockwoods Reservation Hosts Winter in the Woods Festival (Formerly known as the Maple Sugar Festival)

The popular annual Maple Sugar Festival has expanded to embrace even more aspects of winter to become the Rockwoods Reservation Winter in the Woods Festival. The free, family event takes place Saturday, Feb. 1 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

The dead of winter is anything but dead. Just because the temperatures drop, doesn’t mean it’s time to stay inside. Anyone willing to put on an extra layer and venture out can experience nature in a whole new way.

Leaf-free trees offer breathtaking vistas hidden other times, trails and natural areas are decorated with snow and ice, local fishing spots have just as many fish and fewer anglers, bird feeders explode to life with cardinals, juncos and woodpeckers, and sap flows through sugar maple trees that can tapped into sweet treats.

To celebrate everything wintertime offers, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is holding the Winter in the Woods Festival again this year. This free family event takes place Saturday, Feb. 1 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Rockwoods Reservation in Wildwood.

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