Category Archives: Environment
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.
By 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.”
Ready, 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
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
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.
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.
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.
Flance Early Learning Center in St. Louis Announced As 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School
The U.S. Department of Education announced Flance Early Learning Center in St. Louis, MO is among the 2021 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award honorees.
Flance Early Learning Center was nominated by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, in partnership with Missouri Green Schools. Flance Early Learning Center serves a racially, culturally, developmentally, and socioeconomically diverse population of children between ages 6 weeks and 6 years. Flance ELC was founded with a desire to give all children the best possible start in life, regardless of their families’ socioeconomic status. Indeed, 86% of the school population qualifies for free and reduced-priced lunch.
The school building was built with LEED certification in mind and two-thirds of the grounds are planted with water-efficient and regionally appropriate plants, but this school doesn’t stop there. Flance continues to lower its environmental impact with the adoption of composting and recycling, has lowered its greenhouse gas emissions by 37% since tracking began two years ago, and is onboarding a full-time Sustainability Coordinator next month.
Flance is also committed to improving the health of students, families, and the community. Flance was named the only Gold Level Healthy Way to Grow Center in the United States by the American Heart Association in October 2020. In partnership with Affinia Healthcare, Flance houses an onsite health clinic to provide a wide range of health services for Flance families. As a designated EnVision Center by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development since May 2020, the early learning center has provided over 25 tons of free, fresh produce valued at over $180,000 to families and local community neighbors via a weekly free fresh food box program.
EPA Region 7 Feature: A Town, a Flood, and Superfund: Looking Back at the Times Beach Disaster Nearly 40 Years Later
Most St. Louisans have heard the story of the Times Beach environmental disaster that made the small city a ghost town. This Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 (EPA) article gives a detailed timeline of how Times Beach, Missouri, became an environmental and public health warning spurring new laws and public awareness. Please read an excerpt from the EPA’s website and a link to read the full article, including the timeline of events surrounding the Times Beach demise.
(Below excerpt from the EPA Region 7 Website.)
EPA Region 7 Feature: By Jenn Little, Office of Public Affairs
The striking images above show one town, but two entirely different landscapes. On the left, abandoned homes dot the gridded street plan. On the right, 19 years later, trees have begun to cover the street lanes in the empty community.
This town, Times Beach, Missouri, was the site of one of the worst environmental disasters in our nation’s history. Nearly 40 years ago, an individual was paid to spray material on the roads to suppress the dust in this small Midwest town. What the town didn’t know was that he was spraying those roads with a mixture of the highly toxic chemical compound, dioxin, and waste oil. When the town was inundated by a terrible flood in December 1982, that toxic mix spread beyond the roads and covered the town.
As part of EPA’s 50th anniversary commemoration, we look back on the events surrounding the Times Beach disaster. Over its 50-year history, EPA’s enforcement and compliance work has played an integral and crucial role in protecting human health and the environment. The Times Beach tragedy was one of several like it at the time and helped spur the creation of the Superfund law, paving the way for countless cleanup and remediation actions at sites across the country.
Here is the story about that Times Beach tragedy.
UPDATE TO STORY:
The hog farm in Livingston County proposed by United Hog Systems has withdrawn its permit application. Read the story in the Kansas City Star newspaper HERE.
by Don Corrigan
There’s not always a lot of common ground between environmentalists and landowners in rural red state Missouri. Property owners and farmers want freedom to use the land as they wish, while environmentalists favor regulations to protect land and water in the public interest.
That divide between environmentalists and landowners is mirrored in the general partisan divide between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans in Missouri. One place where the divide is bridged and agreement can be found is on the ill effects of expanding CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations).
Landowners worry that CAFOs, which are giant factory farms, will fill the surrounding air with the overwhelming odors from huge reservoirs of animal waste. They also worry that the pools of waste will breach, resulting in major contamination of groundwater as well as nearby lakes and streams.
Small family farms also feel threatened by the prospect of being taken over by well-financed corporate farm operations. These kill independent farms. Farmers worry their children may end up going to work as virtual sharecroppers for a giant company with headquarters out of state or even out of the country.
Department of Natural Resources Awards $41.2 million In Assistance To The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District
Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District will make collection system improvements
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources awarded a total of $41.2 million in financial assistance to the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District for upgrades to its collection system. The project is estimated to cost $43.2 million and is expected to be completed by January 2023.
The project is part of the sewer district’s Public Inflow and Infiltration Reduction Program to rehabilitate the existing collection system throughout the entire service area. This program is part of an ongoing effort to reduce the number and volume of overflows in the sewer district’s combined sewer and sanitary sewer systems.
Funding for the sewer rehabilitation project consists of a $40.2 million low-interest loan and a $1 million grant through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. To complete the project, the sewer district will provide an additional $2 million in local funds. The department’s funding is estimated to save ratepayers $1 million in principal and approximately $8 million in interest over the loan’s 20-year term.
“Improving the key infrastructure that Missouri communities rely on every day continues to be one of our top priorities,” said Governor Mike Parson. “We are absolutely committed to doing all we can to assist with infrastructure improvement projects large and small.”