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“A Sewer Runs Through It: A History of the River des Peres” Film and Discussion, March 22

In the 1920s, wide sloping plains by the River des Peres absorbed flood
water, resulting in minimal damage. What changed to make the floods
of July 26 & 29, 2022 so destructive?

The event is NO COST but you need an EVENTBRITE ticket. Get tickets by clicking HERE.


Environmentalists Defend Initiatives: State Legislators At Odds With ‘Will Of The People’

By Don Corrigan

Environmentalists are among those opposed to actions by the Missouri legislature to cripple the initiative process in the state. They say the initiative process is often the only way to get environmental protections enacted in Missouri.

In the past, environmental groups have used the process on issues such as renewable energy and the financing of nuclear power facilities. In Missouri, these groups have included the Missouri Coalition for the Environment and the Sierra Club.

The initiative process has been dubbed as a “will of the people” mechanism. That’s because measures are approved by a statewide majority of voters, rather than passed by lawmakers in the statehouse where they can be beholden to special interests..

In this year’s session in Jefferson City, lawmakers have seemed determined to codify their disdain for the grassroots democracy of initiatives placed on the ballot by petition.

Legislators have introduced a slew of proposals to effectively nullify state voters’ use of the initiative petition process. They are intent on erecting hurdles that make it virtually impossible for residents to put proposals on the state ballot.

In January, despite overwhelming opposition – 96 percent of committee testimony opposed one such nullification bill – the Missouri House proceeded anyway to rush out approval of a bill to undermine the initiative petition process.

The Missouri House Committee on Elections and Elected Officials heard five bills on Jan. 24, and voted four of the attacks on the petition process out for consideration. The action was taken even as testimony opposing the bills ran five-to-one against the supportive comments.

In February, unhappy constituents lined up in a capitol hearing, one after another, to describe the state initiative petition process as “direct, pure democracy” that should not be thrown in the trash bin of Missouri statehouse history.

Media Voice Concerns

Missouri’s media outlets also have come out swinging against the legislature’s insistence on quashing the ballot initiative process. They note that voters have used the initiative process for Medicaid expansion, medical marijuana, a minimum wage hike, collective bargaining protections and use of renewable energy.

“The argument for tightening the initiative petition process is based on the mistaken assumption that it is too easy now to get a measure passed. It isn’t,” declared the Joplin Globe on Jan. 22. “Most measures that are attempted don’t succeed.

“Medicaid expansion is a good example of why we need this,” the Globe continued. “It was evident for a long time that Missourians favored this, yet it got nowhere in Jefferson City, so voters took the matter into their hands, putting the amendment on the ballot, and then approving it 53% to 47%, bypassing lawmakers altogether.”

Both the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Kansas City Star have published strongly worded opinion pieces against the legislature’s moves to sabotage citizen ballot initiatives. Many papers around the state, including the Columbia Missourian and Columbia Tribune, ran op-eds opposing the attacks on the voters’ will.

The on-line Kansas City Beacon stressed how many important issues only saw the light of day precisely because citizens got out and worked to get signed petitions necessary to get measures on the ballot. The Beacon noted that in recent years, lawmakers have altered or jettisoned laws and constitutional changes approved by voters.

In 2010, Missourians approved a ballot measure to enact tighter restrictions on puppy mills. In the spring session following that vote, the animal protections were repealed or watered down by the state legislature.

A similar reversal came in 2020 after Missourians passed Clean Missouri, a far-reaching ethics ballot measure, which was opposed by state politicians. It was later repealed after the legislature took steps to insure a reversal.

The Kansas City Beacon noted that Missouri does not need to make it even harder for the citizens to express their will at the ballot box. Rather, Missouri needs to pass a bill to guard the people’s will after it is articulated and affirmed by state voters. The reversals need to stop.

In its Dec. 13, 2022 piece, the Beacon cited a bill introduced by Rep. Joe Adams of St. Louis to guard against reversal of the people’s will. Under Adams’ bill, no measure approved by voters could be amended, watered down or repealed by state legislators.

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Registration Is Open for 2023 Callery Pear “Buyback”

Photo: MDC, David Stonner.

The Missouri Invasive Plant Council (MoIP), in partnership with Forest ReLeaf of Missouri, Forrest Keeling Nursery, and the Missouri Department of Conservation, will host a Callery pear “buyback” program in locations around the state on April 18.

Registration is open March 15 – April 13 for participants to choose their location, register with EventBrite, select a native tree, and upload a photo of the cut-down Callery pear tree. One free, non-invasive, native tree is provided to registered participants at the selected location on the day of the event, April 18, from 3–6 p.m. (Note: Kansas City has different dates and times.)

Invasive Tree Causes Ecological Concern: Native to China, Callery pear trees (Pyrus calleryana) include 26 cultivars that present significant ecological concerns in Missouri. Some of the most common cultivars offered commercially include Aristocrat, Autumn Blaze, Bradford, Capital, Cleveland, Chanticleer, Red-spire, and Whitehouse.

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Pallottine Officially Opens Low Ropes Challenge Course

Information from the Pallottine Renewal Center about a new learning opportunity in the local St. Louis area.

A multi-year dream finally becomes a reality this month as the Low Ropes Challenge Course opens at the Pallottine Renewal Center in Florissant. PRC Executive Director Marillyn Baner and team have worked to bring this vision to life over the past several years, made even more critical by the 2020 Covid Shutdown and people’s inability to get together publicly. With those fears and restrictions now behind us, it is the perfect time to open the course to the public.

“I am beyond thrilled that we are finally able to provide this amazing experiential learning opportunity to the communities in and around North County and St. Louis,” Baner said. “Starting this month, we are taking reservations for groups of all shapes and sizes, from 10 to 100. Call us to schedule a tour and see everything Pallottine has to offer from ropes to retreats.”

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Forest Park Replaces Trees Along “allée” Walk

After researching replacement options, Forest Park Forever’s horticultural team selected the “yellow bird” flowering magnolia.

Out with the Callery pear and in with the “yellow bird” magnolia!

Our friends at Forest Park Forever are always moving forward for the good of nature and the park!

Recent information released by Forest Park Forever:

Forest Park Forever, in partnership with St. Louis City’s Forestry team is removing the Callery pear trees along the “allée” walk that bisects the twin parking lots between the Dennis & Judith Jones Visitor and Education Center and Pagoda Circle.

In keeping with the original design intent of the allée, we will replace these trees with 60 ornamental “yellow bird” flowering magnolias sourced from a nursery in Kansas City. The project team plans to begin removal of trees on Tuesday, February 28, so the site is ready for installation of the new trees some time over the next month.

Read more about the project and the invasive Callery pear tree HERE.

4,500 Serious Crashes in Missouri: Costs For Roadkill Collisions In U.S. Approach $10 Billion

Taking animal safety into consideration when building roads and highways doesn’t have to cost taxpayers’ money. In fact, preventative measures can reduce costly road accidents and save human lives

In a new study by the Federal Highway Administration, reported animal crashes are now estimated to cost Americans over $10 billion annually with a total of more that 200 crashes which prove to be fatal for humans.

Regional figures show that crashes with animals in the Midwest cause damages upwards of $3.8 billion with collisions mounting to well over 160,000 annually.

Missouri has about 4,500 animal crashes, with anywhere from 6-12 human fatal animal crashes yearly. Michigan had the greatest number of reported animal-vehicle crashes, with an average of over 54,000 each year.

The new study titled, “The Strategic Integration of Wildlife Mitigation into Transportation Procedures,” recommends use of a collision prevention manual for transportation professionals and their partners.

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See Ozark music duo Shortleaf perform live March 3 at MDC’s Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center

Mike and Tenley Fraser of the band Shortleaf will perform at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center Friday, March 3 at 7 p.m. The musicians play traditional Ozark folk music and weave stories of Ozark culture and natural resources into their concerts. Photo: MDC

The Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center invites you to discover nature through music.  The nature center will present a special concert by the band Shortleaf, featuring Mike and Tenley Fraser on Friday, March 3 at 7 p.m.  The performance promises an enjoyable mix of entertainment and education suitable for the whole family.

Fraser, an accomplished Ozark fiddler, and wife, Tenley, specialize in performing traditional music of the Ozarks.  Honoring a long-time heritage of music and storytelling, the duo uses tales of Ozark history and Scots-Irish culture to create an engaging blend of songs and spoken word.  The Scots-Irish people settled in the hardscrabble Ozarks after migrating west from the Appalachian country, and gave the region much of its unique character.

(Registration required to attend)

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Time To Give A Hoot: When Owls Attack – These Birds Are Not Always Just Wise And Old

Pictured: Great Horned Owl. All photo courtesy the World Bird Sanctuary. By Stu Goz.

By Don Corrigan

Owls sport reputations for being wise and old. However, sensational internet stories and tabloid TV are portraying these feathered fellows as dangerous. Wise, old owls appear to be in attack mode.

A hiker in Alaska was recently dive bombed by a great-horned owl armed with sharp talons. Last year, attacks took place from Washington state to Georgia. Incidents in Texas prompted a “When Owls Attack” advisory.

“Owls can and do attack,” said Shelly Colatskie of Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center in Kirkwood. “If you get too close to their nests, especially when they have young, they will swoop down on you.

“An owl coming at you with their talons can be scary,” added Colatskie. “But the truth is we have not had calls here about problem owls. We get more calls about problem skunks and deer, and bats for sure.”

In Midland, Texas, humans were advised to wear protective gear when passing by nesting adult owls and their owlets. Leather jackets and baseball helmets were suggested as items for owl-proofing.

Do Webster-Kirkwood residents need to owl-proof? After all, owl nests have been spotted in forested stretches at Emmenegger, Blackburn, Powder Valley and other park areas.

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Environment At Fault? Hey, Valentine, Statistics Show Loss Of Courting, Romance

Happy Valentine’s Day!

By Don Corrigan

Do couples go courting anymore? Is dating an obsolete art? Is real romance dead on arrival? Do we now just “Do It In The Road,” if at all, as Beatle John Lennon used to sing?

Some alarming national statistics show that fewer Americans are courting, dating and marrying. Romancing is just something that old people talk about when recalling their favorite “make-out sites” or their necking at drive-in movies.

Census data shows extremely low marriage rates among millennials and Gen Z-ers ­– only 29 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds were married in 2018, compared to 59 percent of young people of comparable age in 1978.

Dour statistics on courting and marriage have beget screaming headlines about the “marriage crisis,” “rudderless young men” and “the end of marriage” in national magazines.

Liberals blame the demise of love on social media and Tinder. Young people use Apps to hook up for one-night stands with no end-game. They are looking for love in all the wrong places. Actually, they aren’t looking for love at all.

Conservatives blame a liberal culture that promotes same-sex relationships rather than traditional marriage; and, a culture that conditions young men to avoid responsibility and steady jobs that could support marriage and family.

Conservative U.S. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri says young men are taught in school that the male gender is toxic, so they are demoralized. Hawley has vowed to address the situation with a new book, slated to come out in May, to be titled, “Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America Needs.”

In fact, the decline in courting, dating and marriage may not have much to do with politics at all, so hold off on the blame games and political finger-pointing. Some experts advise looking at science for an explanation.

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St. Louis LWV Boasts 100 Years Work For Women And Environment

Agnes Garino and Jean Dugan thank suffragists for the women’s
right to vote on the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

By Don Corrigan

Missouri has many organizations with a mission to protect the environment. One group that has been around for 100 years, but isn’t often cited for its environmental chops, is the League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis.

The St. Louis League was founded on Nov. 13, 1919, almost a year before passage of the 19th Amendment providing women the right to vote. The group’s goal was to protect the right to vote and to educate voters.

A new history of the League, Raising Our Voices, covers the past six decades of local and national upheaval, but it also chronicles decade-by-decade the everyday work of the League to protect the outdoors and environment.

Beginning with the decade of the 1960s, author Nicole Evelina zeroes in on the League’s concerns over air pollution. A familiar term at the time was “St. Louis throat,” coined to describe damage done to membranes of the nose, sinus and lungs.

St. Louis suffered from dense black and gray smoke primarily from the burning of coal. The city was put on notice with the 1964 Cleaner Air Act passed by the U.S. Congress. This led to the passage of the Missouri Air Conservation Act.

Brendan Banjak stacks the League’s “Big Vote” ballot boxes in
a get-out-the vote campaign in 1983.

The League got behind recommendations to restrict the amount of coal burned, to  outlaw open burning of refuse and to require anti-pollution devices on automobiles. The legislature passed a new set of air standards for the state.

In the 1970s, the League continued its efforts on air pollution issues, but also worked on improved management of parks. Proper land use also put the spotlight on landfills, which became more than just places to dump trash and forget about it.

Missouri was drowning in its own trash with 4.2 million tons of waste per year, or an average of 5 pounds per person per day. Roadsides, watersheds and floodplains were becoming dumps. The League advocated for responsible land use policy.

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