Category Archives: Environment

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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June Hutson: St. Louis Has Lost A Horticulture Legend

This writer interviewed June Hutson for the following EE article in 2017. It was the first time I met with her. June was welcoming to this stranger asking many questions about gardening and her life in general. She answered each one with a delightful enthusiasm and with a humble openness found only in rare spirits. She was genuine. She was real. She was kind.

Hutson touched many lives in St. Louis and the truth of that can be found in the observations today from her colleagues and friends. In her retirement, she said she intended to travel and explore historic U.S. gardens and maybe the grand gardens of Europe.

However, the true passion in her voice could not be mistaken and was not related to foreign travel – she was looking forward to making future memories with her two grandsons in her own garden.

Hutson’s love of people and passion for gardening left a lasting legacy. This St. Louis horticulture legend will be missed because she was the kind of person that made the world a better place.

—Holly Shanks 7/25/21

The St. Louis Post Dispatch obituary for Hutson can be found HERE.

A memorial celebration of life will be held at the Spink Pavilion at Missouri Botanical Garden on Wednesday, Aug. 11 at 5 p.m.

June Hutson: St. Louis Horticulture Legend

By Holly Shanks

(This article originally posted on Environmental Echo July 17, 2017.)

After spending more than 40 years working at the Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBOT), one might think, June Hutson, a master gardener and horticulturist, retired this past January for some much-deserved leisure time. Nope. She says she retired to do the exact opposite. She wants to spend as much time as possible feeding her passion – getting her hands dirty in the garden.

Hutson started as a gardener at MOBOT in the late 1970s. She spent the last 20 years as supervisor of the outdoor gardens at the Kemper Center for Home Gardening. The ordering of plants and managing staff and volunteers limited some of her time to physically work with planting and maintaining the gardens. The love for the hands-on work played a role in her retirement decision.

Hutson wanted to retire on a good note and her long-term staff was knowledgeable enough to function independently. It was the right time for her to make the change.

“I really missed the physical work and I had a wonderful crew when I retired. If I was going to continue gardening I needed to retire while my physical health was still good,” Hutson said. “I was 74 when I retired, so, you know, time-is-a-tickin’.”

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Alfred Satterthwait And The Bluebird Of Happiness

ScatterthwaitBy Don Corrigan
 

The Eastern Bluebird is Missouri’s Official State Bird. If you’re a St. Louis Cardinals fan, you may be disturbed to learn this.  How could the Missouri legislature diss the redbird and bestow state honors on the bluebird?

Blame the Webster Groves Nature Study Society (WGNSS) for the slight. Members lobbied Jefferson City lawmakers to cast their votes for the bluebird in 1927. Blame Alfred Satterthwait, founder of WGNSS. Maybe even blame Henry David Thoreau, the prince of nature lovers, who wrote that the colorful bluebird of happiness “carries the sky upon its back.”  

Satterthwait carries the legacy of the local nature society upon his back. He and his wife, Elizabeth, founded the group in 1920 and Alfred became its first president. The Satterthwaits immediately began leading nature field trips through Missouri that were covered by the Webster News Times. The newspaper listed birds sighted on the trips at sites like Jefferson Barracks, Creve Couer Lake and the Meramec Highlands.

A scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Alfred Satterthwait allowed nature society members to use his Entomology Field Laboratory at 527 Ivanhoe Place in Webster. The society had its regular meetings there. Young WGNSS members used its microscopes, binoculars and field equipment, and studied its insect collections. Some of them grew up to be naturalists and prominent scientists in their own right.

Throughout its century of existence, WGNSS leaders have fought to preserve wildlife and protect the environment with some important wins and losses. In the early years, they fought for municipal waste pickup, an end to open burning of trash, and preservation of Missouri prairie lands. In recent times, they’ve fought to spare flood plains from developers’ plans for strip malls, highway interchanges and sports complexes. Missouri fish and fowl would, no doubt, say “thank you,” if they could.

Environmental Echo will periodically single out outdoor / environmental heroes who have made a difference in the St. Louis area and beyond. Many of these individuals hail from the Webster Groves – Kirkwood area, where writer Don Corrigan is Editor Emeritus of the weekly Webster-Kirkwood Times. Corrigan is the author of Environmental Missouri by Reedy Press.

J.B. Lester: Local Steward of The Healthy Planet

JB LesterBy Don Corrigan

J.B. Lester, publisher of The Healthy Planet for a quarter century, shrugs off accolades for his nature advocacy and his editorial work to raise awareness on environmental issues. Instead, he describes himself as a messenger or conduit for environmental experts and real champions of the outdoors. He cites his many columnists and free-lance writers.

He is quick to single out one of his scribes, Jean Ponzi, whom he calls “Green Jean.” She is the Green Resources Manager for the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Earthways Center. According to Lester, Ponzi has informed, educated and entertained with prose and poetry on topics ranging from recycling to honeysuckle removal to wildflower gardens.

The Healthy Planet has a stable of writers from organizations such as the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, the Department of Conservation and a host of others. Lester adds a personal touch with his regular column about everything from the lack of social responsibility during a 100-year pandemic to his encounter with a moose on a trip to Colorado.

“My favorite columns are where I can take a magnifying glass to the eco-system in my Webster backyard – whether it’s on the hungry caterpillar on my tomato plants or our annual praying mantis family,” noted Lester. “By looking closely at what is right next to us, we can learn so much about how to view things farther away. I think the artists call this perspective.”

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Gateway Greening: Educational Gardening Seminars – Planting, Pruning, Seed Saving and More

Gateway GreeningGateway Greening offers online classes that are free to the public and are a great source of information for gardeners, garden tips! The organization also is a great way to get involved and volunteer in community gardens! 
 
Visit the Gateway Greening website to find out more about community opportunities and learning events – HERE.
 
Summer Pruning for Tree & Cane Fruit
Thursday, June 17, 6-7 p.m.
Instructor: Dean Gunderson, Gateway Greening Community Projects Manager
 
To register for this class CLICK HERE.

Author Of “Katy Trail: A Guided Tour Through History” Emphasizes Safety

Photo: Thirty bike riders get ready for a ride on the Katy Trail from The Peers Store to McKittrick and back – about 40 miles round trip. The bikers are all Pedego electric bike owners. Electric bikes are just one reason why the number of bicyclists on the Katy Tail are increasing from week to week.

By Don Corrigan

Due to the pandemic, outside recreation has increased. The number of bikers and hikers on trails has accelerated. Safety experts are telling trail users now to be aware and to exercise caution to enjoy trail activities.

Kathy Schrenk of Kirkwood, who writes books for hikers and bikers, puts the emphasis on safety first. In fact, “Safety First” is a section title in her new book, “Katy Trail: A Guided Tour Through History.”

“Before I wrote about all the fun there is to bike on the Katy Trail, I wanted to point out essential safety tips,” said Schrenk. “After a trail user was shot by accident by a hunter recently, I’ve had even more questions about safety.

“I always advise wearing bright color clothing when biking and hiking for visibility,” said Schrenk. “I guess we can say that is especially true during a hunting season.”

The jogger shot on the Lewis And Clark Trail near Weldon Spring was hit by a shotgun blast on May 8. The hunter, who said he was attempting to shoot a turkey, hit the victim in the chest. State conservation officials said the hunter was too near the trail.

Schrenk said the trail incident was probably a freak accident, but it underlined the importance of wearing highly-visible, bright clothes. Also, brighter clothes offer better protection against damaging UV rays from the sun.

Schrenk, a mother of three, is an avid hiker and biker determined to instill a love of nature and safe outdoor adventures in kids. She has lived in Chicago and northern Illinois, the San Francisco Bay area, and now Missouri in Kirkwood.

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J. Marshall Magner: A Real Knack For Knowing Bugs

Marshall Magner CRBy Don Corrigan

Talk to J. Marshall Magner and the first thing he would do is disabuse you of any misconception that all insects are bugs. Conversation would often proceed from there and soon was likely to fly over the average human’s head. A frustrated Magner sometimes relied on large models of insects with detachable abdomen, thorax and head to make his scientific points.

When Magner was born in northwest Webster in 1913, the area was woods, farms and a few homes. Young Marshall was in the habit of collecting insects, frogs and snakes on the way home from getting milk from the Smith’s cows in the morning. Sometimes critters got loose in the house. In his teens, he hunted and roamed the woods as far north as Olive Street Road. St. Louis County was still largely rural in his early days.

Magner’s outdoor interest and insect love led him to a career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In the military in World War II, he served in Europe and Africa. Later, Magner landed with Monsanto Company and he studied insects worldwide, sometimes on long stints in Central America. He shared his collecting skills and knowledge with the youngsters when he returned to Webster Groves. This garnered him the honor of the naming of Larson Park’s children’s playground as “Marshall Magner’s Bug Kingdom.”

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The New Anne O’C. Albrecht Nature Playscape In Forest Park Is Now Open To The Public!

Forest Park Forever Play 2021Ready, Set, Go! Visit Forest Park to check out the newly opened 17-acre playscape! Get out and enjoy the natural setting while connecting to nature in a green space for children and the young at heart!

Forest Park Forever details interesting information about some of the elements it took to create the green space, including 1,500 tons of boulders and rock, including Missouri limestone, 30 tons of sand, 1+ miles of paths, 30+ benches made from fallen or hazard local trees, 1500+ wood stump steppers and 300 newly planted trees. See what the addition has to offer in the included video, along with more details about the green space listed below.

Forest Park Forever website: This highly anticipated opening follows nearly two years of construction to transform what had been 17 acres of turf grass into a one-of-a-kind experiential play space with natural landscapes that include native and diverse species. The project was funded by donors to the nonprofit conservancy Forest Park Forever and completed in partnership with the City of St. Louis.

“The Anne O’C. Albrecht Nature Playscape is an experiential green space built to enable visitors, especially children, to connect with nature and engage their senses as they explore, discover and learn. The destination features nine distinct activity areas — including Mounds, a Spring, a Meadow, a Wetland and more — and a series of accessible paths and boardwalks that connect them.”

Anne O’C. Albrecht Nature Playscape By the Numbers

  • Playscape Size: 17 acres

  • Trees planted: 300

  • Shrubs planted: 700

  • Perennials Planted: 40,000

  • Boulders & Rocks: 1,500 tons, including Missouri limestone

  • Paths: 1+ miles

  • Boardwalks: 4

  • Wood Stump Steppers: 1,500+

  • Sand for Play Areas: 30 tons

  • Hand Water Pumps: 5

  • Boot-Washing Stations: 2

  • Benches: 30+ made from fallen or hazard local trees

  • Bike Racks: 7

  • Drinking Fountains: 3

  • Design & Build Cost: $5 million

  • Cost to enter and enjoy: $0

Jack Lorenz: From High School Cutup To Outdoor Champ

Environmental Echo will periodically single out outdoor / environmental heroes who have made a difference in the St. Louis area and beyond. Many of these individuals hail from the Webster Groves – Kirkwood area, where writer Don Corrigan is Editor Emeritus of the weekly Webster-Kirkwood Times. Corrigan is the author of Environmental Missouri by Reedy Press.
Jack Lorenz CR
by Don Corrigan

Who says environmentalists are all stuffy, humorless, killjoys? Jack Lorenz, who went to Webster Groves High School in the Happy Days era, enjoyed 1950s fast cars, fish stories and cutting up. He sometimes wore a monster mask he called “The Face.” He wore it while in the front seat of buddy Cy Perkin’s car. At a stop light in South St. Louis, they spied Stan the Man in the car next to them. Musial cracked up when “Jack The Face” rolled down the window to let out a hearty, “Hi, Stan!”

No big surprise that Lorenz coached football, basketball and baseball at a prep school while majoring in journalism at the University of Tulsa. He later joined the PR team of Falstaff Brewing, “America’s Premium Quality Beer,” a favorite of another WGHS alumnus named Harry Caray. While hustling Falstaff, Lorenz started a river clean-up campaign and helped create the “Pitch-in” anti-litter campaign.

A growing interest in outdoors lured the lifelong fly fisherman to move to Washington, D.C., to become editor in 1973 of Outdoor America, the magazine of the Izaak Walton League. A year later he was named executive director of the League, a post he would hold for 18 years. During his tenure as CEO of the League, he was asked to the White House to advise Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush. This was in the halcyon days of the environmentalism, when most politicians saw clean air and water, protection of parks and wilderness areas as winning issues.

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Collaborative Effort to Track Plastic Through Mississippi River

Three kayakers mdc

Photo by MDC Staff, courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation.

A small group of kayakers paddle out into the waters of North America’s largest river on a cloudy Saturday morning.  One of them sets a small plastic bottle adrift on the choppy surface.  With a mysterious antenna protruding from the bottle’s side, the current carries the miniature vessel away to a fate unknown.  It’s a high-tech twist on the classic message in a bottle.  Except this message can shed valuable information on how plastic pollution affects our waterways.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) St. Louis Region Stream Teams are helping in a big way with a unique initiative to bring greater awareness of the impact plastic trash has on our watersheds, and ultimately, our oceans.

A cooperative of mayors along the Mississippi River called the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI) has partnered with the United Nations Environment Program, National Geographic Society, and the University of Georgia to fight plastic pollution along the Mississippi. The resulting program, called the Mississippi River Plastic Pollution Initiative (MRPPI), is launching a pilot with three cities along the upper, middle, and lower Mississippi.  St. Louis represents the middle area, with St. Paul, Minn., representing the upper portion, and Baton Rouge, La., stands in for the lower Mississippi.  This pilot program is set to expand to the entire Mississippi watershed in 2022.

Data collection is the first phase of the initiative to find out how much trash, and what kinds, are making it into the Mississippi–along with how exactly it travels through our waterways.

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