By Allison Hagene
Carol Davit of the Missouri Prairie Foundation said she hopes for more cooperation in 2022, because “all of us –from individuals to communities and corporations – must make the health of the natural world, and the natural resources upon which all life depends, an automatic consideration of actions we take. We can no longer abuse nature and natural resources and defer the damage to the years ahead. Doing so destroys natural abundance and beauty that not only makes life possible, but also makes it worth living”
The Missouri Prairie Foundation had a good year, receiving news that “the Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded national accreditation to the Missouri Prairie Foundation, a designation earned by about 30% of the nation’s 1,360+ land trusts. Over the summer, MPF acquired four more original, unplowed prairies, including a rare sand prairie near the Bootheel; dedicated four other prairies we acquired prior to 2021; and have nearly reached our goal of raising $2.2 million for our Lordi Marker Prairie Missouri Bicentennial project.”
Read more below from The Missouri Prairie Foundation, Magnificent Missouri, Just Moms STL, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, the Sierra Club, the Open Space Council, Allison Hagene and Don Corrigan.
The Missouri Prairie Foundation has big plans for 2022. It will be “operating under a brand, new strategic plan in 2022, the goals of which include continuing to protect more original, unplowed prairie; expanding prairie reconstructions and other prairie plantings, continuing to help increase the supply of, and demand for, native plants through our Grow Native! Program; and, offering more opportunities for more people to experience prairie land throughout the state.”
Dan Burkhardt of Magnificent Missouri says that good legislation and sharp political leaders are his biggest wish for 2022 to bring. “The only hope for long-term improvement in the environment and respect for the outdoors and our resources is to elect local and national political representatives who realize the need for positive change in these areas. The more we can educate and engage people, who may not identify themselves as environmentalists and conservationists, the more we can do for the cause.”
Magnificent Missouri had a busy year. It worked with the publisher of a classic conservation story, “The Man Who Planted Trees,” to create a special edition of the book for use in promoting our Katy Trail tree planting campaign. Magnificent Missouri printed 750 copies of the book and distributed them widely to bring attention to the Katy Trail initiatives and gain support for them.
“The project was so successful that we are now reordering 750 additional books to distribute next year. This book touches on many of our goals, it is of interest to conservationists but also to those who love literature and fine art. People will read this book who wouldn’t ordinarily read a conservation or environmental book,” Burkhardt said.
Magnificent Missouri hopes to continue to “collaborate with other organizations to create unique events that will bring people together” in 2022. A primary goal for the New Year is to continue the three-year tree planting campaign along the Katy Trail. This project enhances the trail experience, creates environmental benefits, and provides an activity that directly engages people. Magnificent Missouri will also publishing a book about the lives of Ted and Pat Jones the creators of the Katy Trail. So, be on the lookout for this inspirational book in 2022.
Dawn Chapman and Karen Nickel of Just Moms STL are hoping for a change in attitudes in 2022. They hope that as people turn to more outdoor activities during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, they will stop long enough to look around and take note of toxics and pollutants that threaten nature and the outdoors. “Our communities are fragile and there are real threats, that once allowed to materialize, cannot be easily undone – if at all. The clean-ups of toxic waste sites have shown us that even in 2021 our best is sometimes not good enough when it comes to figuring out how to remove toxic wastes when they get out into a community.”
The Westlake Moms used the pandemic as an opportunity to navigate their online presence: “We have taken this time to develop new ways of staying engaged. New venues have actually increased accessibility to those struggling to become involved – who are not always able to attend in-person events. We forget that in communities that have been poisoned, there are a lot of obstacles that don’t otherwise exist in other communities. These obstacles sometimes prevent people from being able to engage with the agencies.”
In 2022, Just Moms STL wants to “continue to unite with other sites across the nation to address a national toxic legacy. We demand the cleanup of toxic wastes that have been allowed to sit in communities for years and poison them. This includes our own St. Louis radioactive sites at West Lake Landfill as well as locations in Coldwater Creek.”
Jared Opsal of Missouri Coalition for the Environment emphasizes that his wish for the upcoming year is “for more people to recognize clean air, clean water, clean energy, and healthy soils are a universal benefit, not just a political issue. We all suffer the consequences, some more than others, of policies that cater to the bottom lines of those who are in power, versus policies that cater to improving the health and well-being of people and our environment.”
The Missouri Coalition for the Environment had a productive year in 2021, being involved in “writing and advocating for the passage of legislation to form a statewide food security taskforce that will include farmers who distribute within 150 miles of where they grow and who grow using sustainable practices. We were also involved in stopping legislation that intended to sell the Eleven Point State Park, and we continue to be a litigant in a lawsuit to stop the sale of the park.”
Considering prospects for the New Year of 2022, Opsal and his organization hope to continue to work “on improving our agricultural policies to incentivize sustainable farming practices, and there is a bill in the Missouri legislature related to promoting healthier soils that we will be advocating for. We will also become more involved in helping others address small-site brownfields throughout the state.”
Edward Smith and Michael Berg of the Sierra Club hope 2022 will bring a commitment from every EE blog reader to improve their environmental footprint and their civic engagement. “Our personal decisions can decrease our environmental footprint, whether it’s a commitment to purchase more local food through knownandgrownstl.org or using more public transportation to get where we need to go. We also need folks to increase their civic engagement, such as supporting Sierra Club’s legislative engagement by contacting state lawmakers during the legislative session or even running for elected office on an environmental platform.”
The Sierra Club had a good 2021, conducting a march on the McKinley Bridge “to raise awareness and action on environmental injustices on both sides of the Mississippi River. Speakers shared their struggle for clean air and noted the role that environmental racism played in that harsh reality. The United States Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling holding Ameren Missouri accountable for its longstanding violations of the Clean Air Act at its Rush Island coal plant in Jefferson County – Sierra Club is part of the court case. Governor Parson vetoed a proposal to end vehicle emissions testing for Franklin, Jefferson, and St. Charles Counties (House Bill 661). We objected to that bill. Implementing the bill would have led to dirtier air for the St. Louis area and it would have set the State of Missouri on a collision course with the federal government, undermining the Clean Air Act.”
David Wilson from the Open Space Council is hoping for a year of collaboration and cooperation. He hopes to “see the nations of the world come together to address climate change, and improve protections for the land, air and water that are so essential for a healthy planet and healthy human population.”
The Open Space Council (OSC) had a successful year, partnering to “purchase a 156-acre parcel of land adjacent to Greensfelder County Park in May 2021. That land has been incorporated into Greensfelder Park as a significant addition to the open space available to all of us in the region to use for recreational enjoyment.”
As the year wraps up, OSC plans to expand “its sponsorship of volunteer tree planting, and honeysuckle removal activities at a number of parks, and working with state and local agencies we have identified three additional natural areas in the region that we would like to acquire and protect. Through work with OSC, I feel I am helping create healthier rivers, prairies and forests, and a healthier community for today and for the future”
Allison Hagene, an EE intern and environmental communications major at Webster, notes:
“My wish for the environment in the upcoming year is for a sense of hopefulness. I think we often get really depressed and bogged down in all the negative situations and problems our environment and world are facing. On top of all this, we are experiencing a pandemic and political unrest. Despite issues and setbacks, we are very capable of saving our environment. I hope we can come together as a nation and in our own communities to bring new ideas, passions, and solutions to the table. I hope we can realize just how interconnected we are to the environment, so we can really understand how vital it is to protect it, and comprehend the dependency we have on the health of this planet.
“As a new graduate in Environmental Communications, I hope to continue exploring organizations like the ones in this blog. I hope to meet more environmental activists. In 2022, I want to inspire our citizens with my environmental photography, and to find my place in the environmental protection sector.”
Don Corrigan, active member of the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ), hopes for a calmer 2022. He also hopes “that the ongoing pandemic does not interfere with the planned SEJ conference in Houston, which will take up such important issues as the impact of fossil fuel pollutants, the continuing fight in America for clean air and water, and the havoc that climate change is causing with increasing super storms and wildfires.
The Society of Environmental Journalists viewed 2021 as a year of adaption as COVID-19 issues continued. SEJ’s board “gave much moral support to younger members who are finding their way through a pandemic and the loss of environmental reporting jobs in the old legacy news media. SEJ has done this through highlighting their work, by training them to cope and to adapt in a new media ecology, and by telling them and the world how important their investigations and their writing is in a global community that desperately needs them!”
As we look to 2022, SEJ “has many goals, and many active young members working to reach those goals. My mission is to see SEJ return to St. Louis after 20 years for its annual convention. Just as Houston can be described as the epicenter of the oil industry, St. Louis can be described as a major focal point for the coal industry. We need to examine how America is transitioning from coal as well as from oil. SEJ must consider the transitional labor issues involved. How do we make sure employees in the receding fossil fuel industries are not forgotten in this dramatic environmental transition? How do we make sure they are supported, re-trained and gainfully employed for a New American Century?”
(This 2022 New Year’s article was resourced and written by Allison Hagene, a Webster University Environmental Communications Major from Cuba, Missouri)