Category Archives: Environment

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It’s Finally Here!! Don Corrigan’s New Book!

To order Don Corrigan’s latest book, call 314-968-2699 and ask for Don Corrigan, or email corrigan@timesnewspapers.com
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Kay Drey: Whistleblower for an Atomic Age in St. Louis

Environmentalist Kay Drey will be honored at the First Amendment Celebration of the St. Louis Gateway Journalism Review. The event will be on Wednesday, October 27, 2021, from 7-8 p.m. Sign up for this virtual celebration at tinyurl.com/3rakxfet.

The celebration will benefit the nation’s only regional journalism review. Keynote Speaker is former U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Kirkwood, Missouri.  

By Don Corrigan

Kay Drey is an activist, environmentalist, a whistleblower, an Earth Mother. Who could argue that there is anyone more passionate than Kay Drey about protecting humanity from the dangers of the atomic age?

Humanity means mothers, fathers, children – it’s not just a word. She is the premier whistleblower because she has educated so many journalists to blow the whistle, to make some noise, to sound the alarm in defense of man, woman and child.

She is the Paul Revere of the Nuclear Age:

• “Mobile Chernobyls are coming!” she warned us.

•  “Plutonium is coming!” she warned us.

• “Polonium is coming! Have you heard of it?” she asked us.

Who else but Kay Drey would have tritium3 as her email address? It is impossible to message her without wondering if this radioactive element might be contaminating the neighborhood.

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Trouble In Tree City USA: Storms, Disease Hit Suburban Trees

By Don Corrigan

There’s trouble in Tree City USA – and that means Tree with a “T” and that means Kirkwood and that means Webster Groves. And that means oaks, maples, elms, pines – and more.

Residents with mature trees in their yards have learned this summer that they don’t necessarily have it made in the shade. Their trees have taken a trouncing from storms, pests, rot, fungi – and more.

Perhaps the surest sign of this came on a July weekend when a microburst storm took down massive trees in the area. Earlier this spring, residents were sounding the alarm over pin oaks shedding yellow leaves.

“Trees are wonderful community assets, but they require some TLC and regular observation to determine care needs,” said Bill Ruppert, a Kirkwood horticulturalist and owner of National Nursery Products. “Homeowners are wise to invest in trees, but it’s also wise to keep up with your investments.”

Ruppert recommends tree owners have periodic tree health evaluations by a certified consulting arborist. These should check on presence of pests, nutritional needs and safety conditions related to limb and branch structure.

“We are learning so much now about the importance of putting thought into what kind of trees we plant in order to head off a lot of tree problems,” added Ruppert. “It’s important to think about site and diversity when planting trees.”

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Hellbender Conservationists Continue Saving An Endangered Spiecies

Hellbender at Saint Louis Zoo. Photo: Ray Meibaum, Saint Louis Zoo

Over 800 hellbenders from Saint Louis Zoo released into native Ozark rivers by Missouri Department of Conservation this summer

Over 800 Ozark and eastern hellbenders raised from eggs at the Saint Louis Zoo were released into their native Missouri Ozark rivers this summer by Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) State Herpetologist Jeff Briggler, Ph.D., in cooperation with the Zoo and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). Since 2008, 9,476 Saint Louis Zoo-raised endangered hellbenders (8,599 Ozark and 877 eastern) have been reintroduced to the wild in Missouri.

Even through the COVID-19 pandemic, the team of biologists from MDC and the Zoo have continued to collaborate while staying safe and providing the best care for the hellbenders. In 2020 and 2021, more than 1,800 hellbenders were successfully reintroduced.

“We have continued our COVID-19 safety precautions, such as reducing contact and maintaining social distancing, when transporting and releasing hellbenders into their native rivers. Release quotas for 2021 were achieved and successfully conducted, and now we prepare for upcoming collections of eggs from the wild and captive breeding to obtain future release animals,” said Jeff Briggler, Ph.D., Missouri Department of Conservation State Herpetologist.
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Washington University Receives Funding For Research Of New Biotechnology Products

Washington University in St. Louis Receives Over $740,000 in EPA Funding for Research to Assess Health and Environmental Impacts of Biotechnology Products

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Washington University in St. Louis is one of five institutions to receive a total of $3,041,583 in funding to develop science-based approaches to evaluate the potential human health and environmental impacts of new biotechnology products.

Washington University has received $744,262 to develop an “auto destruction switch” for genetically engineered microorganisms and a system to ensure lab observations can match field predictions.

“EPA is funding this research to better understand advancements in biotechnology, which have many potential benefits for society, and to ensure public health and environmental protection,” said Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development and EPA Science Advisor.

“Washington University is pushing science forward with this biotechnology research,” said Acting Region 7 Administrator Edward H. Chu. “Genetically engineered microbes have a lot of potential in naturally break down pollutants and the research Dr. Tae Seok Moon and his team are doing will help ensure that the solutions used in future applications are both responsible, effective and protective of human health.”

“Our project will provide novel technologies that minimize the risks associated with environmental applications of genetically engineered microbes to ensure their biocontainment and public safety,” said Dr. Tae Seok Moon, associate professor in the Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering at Washington University.

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Missouri Prairie Foundation Bestows 2021 Awards

The 55-year-old prairie conservation organization and land trust honored champions of prairie and native plant conservation on August 20 during its virtual Annual Dinner. Awardees hail from Marshall, Columbia, Harwood, Springfield, Meadville, and Eminence, Missouri, as well as Hudson, Wisconsin.

The Missouri Prairie Foundation’s Annual Dinner, held virtually on August 20, 2021, is a celebration of Missouri’s prairie legacy. During the event, the 55-year-old prairie conservation organization and land trust paid tribute to seven awardees.

“Missouri’s remaining prairies are rare and priceless treasures,” said David Young, Missouri Prairie Foundation President. “Protecting and promoting them requires dedication and commitment from many people. Our award program recognizes individuals who have made or are making a positive difference in the conservation of Missouri’s prairie legacy and in the promotion or protection of native plants.”

The Missouri Prairie Foundation 2021 awardees are:

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Expanding Bicycle Use On Conservation Areas Proposed by MDC

MDC has proposed regulations that would allow the expanded use of bicycles and electric bicycles on most department-area service roads and multi-use trails, such as at Canaan Conservation Area in Gasconade County (shown). Photo: MDC

Proposed regulations would allow expanded bicycle use on many conservation area service roads and/or multi-use trails while restricting access to heavily used areas and natural areas.

The Missouri Conservation Commission gave initial approval to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) at its Aug. 27 open meeting on proposed regulation changes that would allow the expanded use of bicycles and electric bicycles on most department-area service roads and multi-use trails. The Commission also gave initial approval to MDC definitions of bicycles and electric bicycles.

According to MDC, conservation-area users have expressed interest in expanding the use of bicycles and electric bicycles to include conservation-area service roads and multi-use trails for greater access to the areas.

Bicycle use on MDC’s approximately 1,100 conservation areas is currently restricted to roads open to public-vehicle traffic and some multi-use trails. Bicycle use is currently not allowed on conservation-area service roads.

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Prairie Chicken Count At 100 In Missouri As Habitat Losses Continue 

Photo Credit: Dan Wundrock. Public domain.

By Allison Hagene

The farming industry has been the biggest threat to the bird’s survival, destroying thousands of acres of natural habitat to use for agricultural purpose. Agricultural pesticides also kill insects that prairie chickens depend on.  

Greater Prairie Chickens are non-migratory bird. When their habitat is destroyed, they have nowhere to go. They have no alternate destination. The tall, dense grasses in Missouri prairies enable the birds to nest, hide, and raise their young, without the ecosystem they depend on, they are extremely vulnerable. Deprived of their homes the Prairie Chickens are unable to reproduce productively and lose diversity. 

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Spiny Soft-Shell Turtles: Healthy In Missouri, Struggling In Canada 

Turtle found traveling near a private lake in Crawford County Missouri. Photo by Allison Hagene

Allison Hagene

Missouri is home to a wide range of turtle species, with many different ecosystems to inhabit. A wide variety of turtles reside all over the state. One specific turtle has a very unique look: a large smooth speckled shell, a pointed, pig-like nose, and wrinkly feet. 

The Spiny Soft-Shell Turtle is found in Missouri in large lakes, rivers, and ponds with sandy or muddy bottoms. They can be found throughout the United States, and even in Mexico and Canada. They are exceptionally good swimmers and spend much of their lives in water, even burying themselves in lake bottoms to avoid cold temperatures in wintering months. 

The soft-shell turtle is actually not currently listed as endangered in the United States but is endangered in Canada. The major issue in Canada is the advancement of industry and water structures. The turtles are losing habitat due to dams, waterside development, water level changes, and human recreational intrusions. 

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MDC Offering Up To $75,000 Grants To Help With Conservation Projects In St. Louis Area Parks

Back to Nature STL

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) works with and for communities to sustain healthy fish, forests and wildlife.  One of the ways in which it does this is by offering funding for conservation-friendly projects in St. Louis area parks through a unique partnership and funding opportunity: The Back to Nature StL Grant.

Applications for the grant should be relevant to the goals of MDC’s Community Conservation Program.  The Back to Nature StL grant supports terrestrial and aquatic habitat improvement in urban area parks, encouraging partnerships for supporting community conservation efforts, native habitat restoration and long-term natural landscape management, and engaging the public through conservation education and volunteer opportunities.

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