Category Archives: Environment

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Painful Shutdown of Environmental Meetings in St. Louis

By Don Corrigan

It’s painful for Environmental Echo to receive the notices of closings and cancellations of nature outings, green activities and environmental meetings due to the coronavirus pandemic that now affects the St. Louis area and more than 140 countries.

This spreading disease is deadly serious, environmentally destructive and totally global in consequence. Obviously, it was mistake for the administration to fire the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Pandemic Response Team two years ago.

It might be time to reconsider the firing of that unit, as well as the quashing of the annual reports out of the U.S. Defense Department on “Preparing the United States for Impacts of Climate Change,” which were started in 2013. Those reports include information on pandemics.

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Solving Climate Change With A Trillion Trees

Mark Grueber of the Missouri Department of Conservation surveys trees at the Powder Valley Nature Center, which serves as his work location for the MDC. Photo by Diana Linsley (WKT)

By Don Corrigan (Webster-Kirkwood Times)

With wildfires raging globally and 2019 being the second hottest year on record, even climate change skeptics are starting to look for answers. Could planting a trillion trees reduce carbon pollution and spur a needed cool down?

The trillion trees idea got a big boost last month at the World Economic Forum. Planting trees does present an easier solution than reducing fossil fuel use. Even President Donald Trump said the U.S. would sign onto a tree campaign.

Local tree and horticultural experts are pleased that some movement on the climate change issue seems to be in the works, but they argue that planting trees is no panacea for a problem that is taking a toll on Planet Earth.

“There are many facets to this discussion about trees and climate change, and most of them do have some merit,” said Jerald Pence, coordinator for the horticulture program at St. Louis Community College at Meramec in Kirkwood. His responsibilities include managing an 11-acre garden on the Meramec campus.

“I do think that it’s important to understand that there is rarely a ‘silver bullet’ solution that will fix a big problem so easily,” added Pence.  “I think it’s great that something is happening to at least begin a needed discussion.”

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Society of Environmental Journalists Celebrates 30 Years

Front row, left to right: Kevin Carmody, Sarah Thurin Rollin, Bruce Ritchie, Beth Parke, Marla Cone, JoAnn Valenti Center row, left to right: Mike Mansur, Don Corrigan, David Ropeik, Peter Fairley, Kathy Sagan, ID missing, Tom Meersman, ID missing, ID missing, Julie Edelman, Angela Swafford Back row, left to right: ID missing, Jay Letto, Chris Bowman, George Homsey, Russ Clemings, Gary Lee, Emilia Askari, Chris Rigel (now Bruggers), Gary Polakovic, Jim Bruggers, Noel Grove (Photo: SEJ)

Environmental Echo applauds the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) on the organization’s 30 years of advocating for nature, ecology and the environment.

EE’s Don Corrigan was in Boulder, Colorado, with SEJ when the organization debated its vision, mission and objectives. He has attended its annual conventions, which always are highlighted by field trips and a week-long intensive foray into nature to explore vital issues. He has been active with SEJ’s college teaching committees on environmental teaching and coursework. (Corrigan is pictured in the middle row – second from left.)

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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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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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Rock Island Line Corridor One Step Closer

Pictured: A portion of Grant’s Trail. This newly signed agreement opens the door for another classic trail, like the Great Rivers Greenway trail system in the St. Louis area.

Department of Natural Resources and Ameren Missouri’s Missouri Central Railroad sign agreement on Rock Island Line Corridor.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources recently signed an Interim Trail Use Agreement with Missouri Central Railroad Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ameren Missouri, paving the way for the future railbanking of 144 miles of the former Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad corridor, which stretches from Windsor to Beaufort, Missouri. The Interim Trail Use Agreement ensures the preservation of the former railroad corridor for future transportation use and facilitates the eventual donation of the property to the department for recreational trail use.

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Forest Park Forever Receives 2019 Saint Louis Zoo Conservation Award

Jeffery P. Bonner, Ph.D., Dana Brown President & CEO, Saint Louis Zoo (left) next to Lesley S. Hoffarth, P.E., President & Executive Director, Forest Park Forever (center) and Lisa Kelley, Ph.D., Executive Director, Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute (right). Accepting the 2019 Saint Louis Zoo Conservation Award for Forest Park Forever was Hoffarth. The Conservation Award and three community awards were presented at the Zoo’s 28th Annual Marlin Perkins Society Celebration on Nov. 13, 2019. Photo courtesy S. Carmody Photography.

The Saint Louis Zoo Conservation Award was recently presented to Forest Park Forever. For over 30 years, the nonprofit conservancy has worked to enhance the ecological diversity of Forest Park and create the recreational and educational opportunities for students and adults that make Forest Park the number one city park in the country.

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Here’s How You Can Help Reverse Declining Bird Numbers

Eastern Meadowlark Photo: MDC

A recent study from prominent bird researchers in the U.S. and Canada, including Cornell Lab of Ornithology, found that North America has lost nearly 3 billion birds in the last 50 years, and those declines are also occurring in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is partnering with other conservation agencies and organizations to address population declines in the state and offer solutions.

“It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact causes of these widespread bird declines because many birds are migratory and they breed here but winter out of the country,” said MDC State Ornithologist Sarah Kendrick. “But one of the threats birds are facing is loss of breeding habitat and managers of public and private land can help reverse these declines.”

Eastern meadowlark, prairie warbler, field sparrow, cerulean warbler, and red-headed woodpecker among threatened species.

See details below with information about what you can do to help!

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Jiminy Cricket! Where’s The Beef?

Holy cow! Jiminy Cricket! Sarah Schlafly of Des Peres wants us to kick the red meat burger habit in favor of incorporating a little more cricket into our daily diet. She is issuing a “Cricket Challenge” in the Gateway City.

“The idea behind the exciting Cricket Challenge is to dare St. Louisans to try a dish or beverage made with powdered crickets,” said Schlafly, CEO of her company named Mighty Cricket. “The idea is to put St. Louis on the map for innovation in sustainable food choices.”

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