Category Archives: Environment

Image

Cool As A Beatles’ Song: Kirkwood Sojourners Rally At Unique Artesian Spring

Karl Kruse, Don Corrigan, Ila Irl, Bill Spradley and Kyle Moylan celebrate the cold, clear waters of the Sycamore Valley Artesian Well in the Missouri Ozarks. All photos by Bill Ruppert.

by Don Corrigan

Just as four Beatles looked for “Norwegian Wood” in a cooler clime in 1965, some area residents looked for an artesian well recently in sizzling 2022 heat. Ozark wells offer cool, flowing water, even when its 100+ degrees.

“I love taking people to see the artesian well at Sycamore Valley,” said Bill Spradley, a Kirkwood  businessman who owns a farm near the well in the Ozark country. “The water is cold, pure, refreshing and it flows constantly.

“It gets a lot of visitors from the locals, but also from all over the country,” added Spradley. “It even gets travel reviews on Google.”

Indeed, the artesian well east of Fredericktown and south of Highway 72 has a gaggle of Google reviews. One advises visitors to take “all kinds of jugs” because the waters are “just a thing you’ll have to experience.”

Spradley, who works during the week in Kirkwood at his Trees, Forests and Landscapes, Inc., will retreat to his Ozark hideaway on weekends. At an intersection of roads just south of his homestead is an amazing water flow that never, ever goes quiet.

It started in the late 1940s, when a shaft was sunk more than 1,200 feet below ground. However, it was not black gold that erupted from the depths. It was clear, cold water under natural pressure and gushing at 50 gallons per minute.

An artesian well releases spring water and requires no pumps. The most famous artesian wells are located in Artois, France. Artois was known as the “Roman City of Wells” in the Middle Ages.

Continue reading

Image

Crayfish Critters: Memories Past, Present-Day Concerns

All photos courtesy The Missouri Department of Conservation.

By Don Corrigan

Crayfish, the “poor man’s lobsters,” were once in abundance in streams of Webster-Kirkwood in suburban St. Louis. Watersheds at Gravois Creek, Sugar Creek, Deer Creek and Shady Creek hosted many of the six-legged fellows.

When freed slaves settled areas near the creeks in North Webster Groves after the Civil War, the streams provided drinking water, recreation and food sources for the liberated residents.

A crayfish boil with melted butter could offer a kingly meal. Vegetable gardens in family plots provided plenty of side dishes to go along with the “crawdaddies” harvested by young boys.

Crayfish boils – and local streams full of the tiny “lobsters,” – seem to be a thing of the past. Experts with the Webster Groves Nature Study Society and Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) have an explanation for the disappearance.

“Crayfish suffer in suburban areas because of the runoff from herbicides and the pesticides used on lawns,” said Rich Thoma of the local nature society. “Some species are very sensitive to degradations in their habitat.

“When the crayfish suffer, sometimes other species of dragonflies and frogs take a hit also,” explained Thoma. “That’s because the crayfish burrow into the mud to make their homes, and other creatures then use the burrows for their homes.”

When crayfish disappear, the burrow homes for the dragonflies and frogs disappear. It’s a classic case of ecological breakdown.

Continue reading

Image

Trail Blazers – A Book About the Making of the Katy Trail and the Free-Spirited, Extraordinary Lives of Ted and Pat Jones

Courtesy of Magnificent Missouri

by Don Corrigan
Trail Blazers: The Free-Spirited and Extraordinary Lives of Ted and Pat Jones tells the story of the philanthropy and business savvy of an incredible couple. They also left an incredible natural legacy for Missourians.

I recommend reading this book from finish to start. That’s because once you realize the extent of what they have given us in Missouri (which is cataloged at the end of the book), then you will be more motivated to read how it all happened earlier in the book.

So, what did Ted and Pat Jones give us:

• A 240-mile long Katy Trail that attracts 400,000 hikers and cyclists annually. The beauty of this trail – whether in wine country, or the forests near Boonville, or the river cliffs of Rocheport – is simply astounding.

• Prairie Fork, the fabulous Jones Farm north of the Missouri River. The acreage has prairie, wetlands, slightly forested woodlands edged with beautiful wildflowers. Three different ecosystems can be enjoyed.

• The Ted and Pat Jones Confluence Point State Park, where visitors can witness where the Mississippi and Missouri rivers meet, and where westward expansion in the United States began.

Continue reading

Image

Cool Your Brain, Warm Your Heart, and Set Your Soul on Fire: 7 Ways to Prevent Eco-Anxiety and Climate Doomerism

By Patrick Fleming

I recently asked a college professor friend what his students are like today. His answer was disturbing, “They are all depressed and hopeless.”

There is growing concern about the effect that global warming is having on our mental and even spiritual health. Studies are showing higher levels of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness in the general population, especially among young people. Research published in the Lancet, interviewed 10,000 people, 16-25, in 10 countries.

Researchers found “a startlingly high rate of pessimism:” 45% worry about climate disasters affecting their daily life; 75% say the future is frightening; 56% agree with the statement, “Humanity is doomed;” 40% report being hesitant to have children, not wanting to bring children into a hotter, harsher world.

Here are 7 ways to maintain your mental and spiritual health as our planet heats up. In short, these practices help you to keep your brain cool, your heart warm, and set your soul on fire.

Continue reading

Image

Don Corrigan Talks American Roadkill on KMOX

In this April 26 interview on KMOX Radio, American Roadkill author Don Corrigan points out that his writing is in the great animal rights tradition of Joseph Grinnell of the 1920s, who was alarmed at the animal carnage on America’s new highways. Grinnell was a zoologist in California who wrote roadkill diaries.
 
Also in the tradition in which Corrigan writes is James R. Simmons. He published Feathers and Fur on the Turnpike in 1938. Simmons recorded roadkill destruction on New York highways. One of his tallies on Route 85, included: 13 woodchucks, 9 skunks, 2 raccoons, 11 squirrels, 4 chipmunks, 6 snakes, 3 turtles, 5 frogs and a single toad during one month.
 
Simmons declared: “Collectively we seem to think nothing of annihilating distance, time, wildlife and  occasionally ourselves as we step on the gas.”
Image

Kirkwood’s St. Hellbender: Hellbender Fans Recall Karen Goellner’s Care Of Critters

Karen Goellner holding a wriggling endangered Hellbender. Photos by Jeffrey Briggler.

By Don Corrigan

Fans of Missouri hellbenders recently gathered at the Saint Louis Zoo to honor the life and work of Kirkwood’s Karen Goellner. If working with hellbenders can get you into heaven, she is in a good place.

“She put in the hard work to help save the endangered Ozark hellbenders,” said Charlie Hoessle, a renowned herpetologist and director emeritus of the Saint Louis Zoo. “She traveled down to the Ozark streams with many of us who were interested in this species.

“Her late husband, Ron, also was keenly interested in amphibians and fish and snakes,” added Hoessle. “Before I went to the Zoo, he used to come in to my pet shop in Affton and look at all the creatures. Ron and Karen were great for each other and for the hellbenders.”

Hellbenders, sometimes known as “snot otters,” are large, aquatic amphibians. The hellbender has a flat head, wrinkly body and paddle-shaped tail. Its body is dark gray or brown with irregular dark spots along its back.

Like so many animal species whose survival is under threat, hellbenders have problems because of habitat degradation. This includes declines in water quality, erosion issues, silt covering their rocky living places and difficulties producing young in a damaged environment.

Even before humans defiled their favorite living spots, fishermen proved hostile to hellbenders. They viewed them as small monsters hurting trout and bass fishing, so they captured hellbenders and drove stakes through them.

Saint Louis Zoo experts and volunteers have intervened on behalf of hellbenders. They built a nurturing, artificial environment at the Zoo. These tank “streams” allowed them to thrive and reproduce.

The first successful breeding of hellbenders at the Zoo only took place after tender, loving care. They were destined to be reintroduced to their native habitat in waterways like the Current, Jacks Fork and Eleven Point rivers.

Group photo of the Saint Louis Zoo staff, USFWS, and Karen Goellner assisting with augmenting wild collected Ozark Hellbenders in the outdoor streams for captive-breeding. This was completed in the summer of 2011 and the first successful captive breeding occurred in the fall of 2011.

Continue reading

Image

Radioactive Threat: War in Ukraine Shows Potential for Nuclear Disaster

Photo: Yvonne Logan

By Don Corrigan

Americans never envisioned that any military would be demented enough to attack an operating nuclear power plant, but then Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine. The world has been shocked to see nuclear power plants in the midst of heavy fire.

Endangering the integrity of nuclear plants is an attack on the ecological well-being of all of Europe and a large chunk Russia itself, according to Steve Cohen of Columbia University’s State of the Planet.

“Any species that can produce a Putin and give him an army cannot be trusted with the management of such a complex and potentially dangerous technology,” declared Cohen.

“As if attacking a functioning plant was not sufficient, Russia has also taken over the site of the no longer operating Chernobyl nuclear power plant,” wrote Cohen. “The Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in 1986 spread radioactive materials throughout Europe and was one of the largest nuclear catastrophes in history.”

Europeans know all too well what happens when a nuclear power plant fails. Radiation from the USSR’s Chernobyl plant spread from Poland to Germany to Scotland. The disaster galvanized an anti-nuclear movement in Western Europe.

Now Ukraine is under siege, a country that relies on nuclear power for 60% of its energy, and Russians are pummeling and seizing these plants.

Lynn Sableman, president of the St. Louis chapter of the Women’s League for International Peace and Freedom (WILPF), speculates that the Ukraine conflict could mean the beginning of the end of the nuclear age.

It could also provide the impetus to clean up global radioactive contamination. Or, it could lead to a world nuclear nightmare.

Continue reading

Image

March Promises Us Some Weird “Wizard of Oz” Weather

North of Hannibal, Mo, 2003. Photo: STL NWS.

By Don Corrigan

March brings us Mardi Gras, Irish revelry, International Fanny Pack Day and wild-ass weather. Tornadoes are just around the corner, which is why it is an American family tradition to watch “The Wizard of Oz” on TV in March.

There is no better movie tornado scene than Dorothy and her little dog Toto trying to find shelter as a Kansas cyclone bears down on them. The tornado in “Oz” is every bit as scary as anything in the more recent movie, “Twister.”

If “The Wizard of Oz” classic were filmed today, the setting would have to be moved from Kansas to Missouri. That’s because changing weather patterns have meteorologists telling us that Tornado Alley is moving eastward.

Missouri and states to the southeast are seeing more and more tornadoes. On a recent drive to the Florida Panhandle, this scribe witnessed plenty of tornado damage in Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama.

Meteorologists are predicting twice as many tornadoes this spring because of what used to be called “global warming.” That terminology has changed to “climate change,” because a warming atmosphere gives us weather extremes of hot and cold.

February 2022 has exhibited this phenomenon. It has been a roller coaster. Sunny, balmy days followed by ice, sleet and snow and an occasional polar vortex. It has been roller coaster weather.

The weather roller coaster of extremes in February has put us on a track for violent tornadoes in March. So grab Toto and be ready to take shelter as dark and ominous roll clouds wind their way up I-44 in Missouri, a super highway which has become Missouri’s very own Tornado Alley.

Continue reading

Image

Ozark Forests Find Advocates At Webster University

Protester on upturned vehicle. Photo by Orin Langelle, photojournalist, environmentalist and a graduate of Webster University 1978.

By Don Corrigan

Trees have never been so important as now. Stands of trees can help counteract harmful climate change. That’s, in part, why a national and local fight continues to halt destruction of old growth forests.

Residents interested in the fight for trees may want to attend the film, “Shawnee Showdown: Keep the Forest Standing.” The documentary will show at 7 p.m., Feb. 18, at Winifred Moore Auditorium on the campus of Webster University.

It documents a past battle in the 1980s and 1990s, when a dedicated group of activists fought on the ground and in the courts to stop clear-cutting, oil and gas drilling, and ATV use in the Shawnee National Forest located in Southern Illinois.

Jan Wilder, Rene Cook and unidentified child. Photo by Orin Langelle.

The activists were successful for a time, but the battle begins anew because the prohibition on many such activities in the Shawnee National Forest was lifted several years ago. That gives the film particular relevance.

Karla Armbruster, an English and Sustainability Studies professor at Webster University, was instrumental in bringing the documentary to campus. She cited some photos in the film that were taken by world-renowned photographer, Orin Langelle, who honed his talents in Webster’s media studies program.

“I associated this kind of protest with the Pacific Northwest and was thrilled to learn that it happened here in the Midwest,” said Armbruster. “It sounds like more activism of this kind is needed now to keep our forests healthy.

“This film offers not only a history lesson but also encouragement that ordinary people, who care, can really come together and make a difference,” she added.

Continue reading

Image

Public Land v. Private Use: Kirkwood Wrestles With Thorny Issue

Proposed; multi-use (cycling, running, walking (1+ mile), and cycling only (~1-mile) recreational trails in Kirkwood Park Forest.

By Don Corrigan

America has seen some major battles over special-interest use of public lands. Those fights have usually involve mining, timber, oil and gas interests. The fight came to Kirkwood recently when a mountain bike concern sought use of Kirkwood City Park.

Dave Schulz of the Gateway Off-Road Cyclists (GORC) sought use of a forested area of the city park for cycling trails for his organization. Public reaction was swift and by the end of January, Schulz appeared to be backing off.

This GORC trail has imported rock/gravel to construct a ramp, and the width has been greatly expanded. Bluff View/Rock Hollow Park, Wildwood, MO.

GORC  will no longer support the addition of cycling within the west forest at Kirkwood Park. Following discussion with Kirkwood’s Parks Director Kyle Henke, the Gateway Off-Road Cyclists (GORC) will no longer support the addition of cycling within the forest at Kirkwood Park, according to Schulz.

A bicycle playground and family-oriented bike area outside of the forest are still being considered. Dave Schulz of GORC told the Webster-Kirkwood Times that Henke spoke with him on Thursday, Jan. 20, regarding the proposed updates to Kirkwood Park’s trail system, which would include mixed-use areas permitting cyclists.

Continue reading