Families enjoy the fall color by walking the trails at Powder Valley.
MDC invites the public to help celebrate Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center’s 30th anniversary at an Anniversary Autumn Festival Friday, Oct. 29 from 6-9 p.m. This special event is free and open to the whole family. (online preregistration to attend is required.)
The average price for a gallon of gas was $1.14; Terminator 2: Judgement Day dominated the box office; George H. W. Bush was president of the United States, and Boyz II Men was just breaking into the music scene. The year was 1991, and something great was happening for St. Louis-area nature lovers too—the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) opened Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center.
MDC invites the public to help celebrate Powder Valley’s 30-year anniversary at an Anniversary Autumn Festival Friday, Oct. 29 from 6-9 p.m. This special event is free and open to the whole family. Enjoy a beautiful fall evening with plenty of autumn-inspired outdoor activities.
Visitors will be able to go for a hayride and enjoy a bonfire complete with s’mores. There will also be fall themed crafts, games, and other fun activities to celebrate Powder Valley’s anniversary. MDC will even provide free hotdogs, popcorns, s’mores, and drinks.
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.
The squirrel photo contest has ended. We had some wonderful entries! The winners will receive a phone call about how to collect their prizes.
Here are the winners!
(Look for more contest photos next week! We received so many great photos that we will share them with everyone soon!)
John Langholz from Webster Groves, Mo
(winner gave permission to post his full name.)
First Place Winner
Bruce B. from Kirkwood, Mo
Second Place Winner
Don F. from Lonedell, Mo
Third Place Winner
UPDATE: Squirrel photos are coming in hot and heavy!
Don’t forget to send your squirrel photos in for the contest! Deadline is October 15. Email the photo entries to email@example.com.
Thank you for all the photo submissions received so far!
Squirrels are frantically flipping out and burying acorns. It’s their pre-winter thing. Which makes squirrels great photo subjects this time of year.
A squirrel photography contest is now frantically underway.
Send your best squirrel images to the Missouri Nature Blog, EnvironmentalEcho.com. Limit of three photos per photographer, please. Deadline is October 15.
Squirrel photograph images should be sent on the worldly squirrel wide web to the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Photograph winners will receive Squirrel Baskets packed with plenty of squirrel goodies.
Three winners will be announced at the Squirrel Day Table at Magnificent Missouri’s Elevator Days on Sunday, Oct. 17 at Treloar on the Katy Trial. Shuttle will be available to take visitors to the Peers Store just east of Treloar on the Katy Trail.
Professor Don Corrigan will give a Powerpoint lecture on his book, “Nuts About Squirrels” at the Peers Store at 1 p.m. The lecture and his book detail the importance of squirrel characters in our American popular culture.
Some tips about photographing live squirrels: Good squirrel photos should be close-up showing their character. Action photos are best.
Squirrels make good subjects because they are just plain cute. They are very cunning and will work very hard to get to a food source, i.e., your bird feeder. They offer endless opportunities for great photos with their gymnastic abilities.
They can be difficult at times to photograph because they are constantly on the move and you have to anticipate what they are going to do next. This is what makes photographing them so much fun.
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.”
Photo by Charles Hoessle, former St. Louis Zoo Director.
By Don Corrigan
If you’ve been paying attention to the wildlife near your home, you may have noticed squirrels are going a little nuts. They’re in their pre-winter ritual of hoarding and burying acorns.
An animal expert who finds squirrel antics fascinating is Charles Hoessle, former St. Louis Zoo Director. Hoessle has been up close and personal with large, wild animals at the world-renowned zoo, but he has a real soft spot for – squirrels.
“We have two white squirrels, which are quite rare, living in the trees near my home,” said Hoessle. “I don’t know how they got here, but they do show up every so often and they do not seem to be bothered by all the gray squirrels.”
Hoessle has a hoard of photos of his neighborhood white squirrels that he has taken on his cell phone. This is quite an accomplishment, because white squirrels can be shy as they are very visible out in the open and vulnerable to predators.
The vulnerability of white squirrels has made them rare, but they are populous in one town in Illinois. Olney is the white squirrel capital of America and the town’s police will levy heavy fines if you harass or hit them, even accidentally, with your vehicle.
“I lure the white squirrels out in my yard by sprinkling some cracked corn around,” said Hoessle. “I can never tell when they will show up, but the corn seems to attract them.”
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.
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.
Information from Trailnet for The Ride the Rivers Century. (August Newsletter)
The Ride the Rivers Century presented by Streets of St. Charles is the best 100 mile ride in the midwest. Challenge yourself on Trailnet’s flagship ride of the year. Ride the Rivers brings together all of the best elements of biking across the region.
The route is the experience. From an early morning in Old Town St. Charles, to ferry crossings*, cruising along the Mississippi, cutting through the City, rolling through Forest Park, winding down the Katy Trail and ending with a party at the Streets St. Charles; this supported ride gives you a unique chance to crush 100 miles.
Want to join in on the century fun but don’t want to knock out a full 100 miles? Enjoy a very European 100 km (62 mi) metric century that explores the Missouri and Mississippi River valleys before returning to St. Charles for the street party.
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: