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Webster Groves Nature Study Society Marks 100 Years

Alfred Satterthwait working on his insect collection at his home 118 Waverly Ave., Webster Groves, ~1930. WGNSS Archives.

by Don Corrigan

The Webster Groves Nature Study Society (WGNSS) was set to mark an entire century of existence this April. A coronavirus pandemic has crushed all the organization’s “best laid plans” to celebrate its past, present and future.

“Our 100th Anniversary Banquet for May 12 is canceled. Our ‘Night to Remember’ on  April 1 is canceled. Our ceremony with the Mayor of Webster Groves on city hall’s front lawn for April 3 is canceled,” lamented Richard Thoma, the past president and first vice president of WGNSS.

“Obviously, the pandemic is hurting a lot more people and canceling more important things than what we are all about – but this hurts,” said Thoma. “It has also canceled three nature outings and set back the publication of our memorial book, “One Hundred Years of the Webster Groves Nature Study Society.”

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MDC Temporarily Waives Fishing Permits Starting March 27

Starting March 27, people may fish in Missouri without a permit through April 15.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Missouri Conservation Commission announce they are temporarily waiving permit requirements for sport fishing and daily trout tags for Missouri residents and nonresidents whose fishing privileges are not otherwise suspended.

The waiver of needing a permit or trout tag to fish will run from Friday, March 27, through April 15. MDC will reassess the situation at that point. All season dates and limits will continue to apply and be enforced. 

“The current public-health emergency caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) has many Missourians and others looking for safe ways to get outside in nature,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “Missouri’s rivers and streams offer high quality fishing as a way for people to connect with nature while still complying with all health and safety recommendations. Fishing is also a great way to get some much needed physical and mental health benefits during this stressful time.”

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Gateway Greening Update

A note from Gateway Greening Executive Director Matt Schindler.
To our Gateway Greening supporters,
This is a tough time for St. Louis, for the US, and for the world. COVID-19 is affecting all of our lives. For Gateway Greening, we have canceled all of our public classes and workshops through May 11, canceled a fundraiser, closed our office to the public, and are postponing the installment of new gardens and garden expansions. We are also going to postpone our new Garden Open House that was scheduled for May 9.

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MDC Closes Nature Centers and Visitor Centers

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) announced it will close its nature centers, visitor centers, and education centers around the state to visitors effective Thursday, March 19, to help protect the public amid ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns. The indoor facilities will be closed to the public through April 15 and MDC will reassess the situation at that point. Nature center trails remain open.

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50th Anniversary St. Louis Earth Day Festival Postponed

The Executive Director of earthday365 released information about this years Earth Day Festival. Please read his letter below.

A Letter From the Executive Director,

At earthday365, we put a priority on good citizenship. In order to limit the potential spread of COVID-19, at this moment, being a good citizen is not consistent with hosting the St. Louis Earth Day Festival on April 25th & 26th. For this reason, and under the guidance of the Public Health Department, we must announce the postponement of the 50th Anniversary St. Louis Earth Day Festival.

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Frogwatch USA Looking For Citizen Scientists

photo courtesy of Saint Louis FrogWatch Chapter

Saint Louis Zoo training sessions set for March 13, 19 and April 3.

Jump in and become a FrogWatch USA volunteer with the Saint Louis Zoo! St. Louis-area “citizen scientists” are needed to monitor frogs and toads from their backyards, parks, fields, creeks or just about anywhere. The information gathered can ultimately lead to practical and workable ways to stop amphibian decline.

You do not have to be a frog or toad expert to join FrogWatch. You won’t even need to see or touch these amazing amphibians to participate. All you need is an interest in frogs and toads and the time to attend a training session. You’ll be asked to make a commitment to monitor a site of your choosing for at least three minutes twice a week throughout the frogs’ breeding season, which ranges from about February to August.
“In just a couple of hours, we will train you to distinguish the croaks, peeps and various calls of the 10 most common frog and toad species around the St. Louis area,” says Michael Dawson, Conservation Education Liaison at the Zoo and coordinator of the St. Louis chapter of FrogWatch USA. “Breeding calls vary greatly and are often mistaken for birds or insects. Their volume ranges from a soft musical trill to a deafening chorus.”

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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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A Billion Animals Crying Out Loud

by Don Corrigan (Webster-Kirkwood Times)

I like a good bumper sticker and, “Fur Crying Out Loud,” is very effective. It is a statement against cruelty to animals and the message stays with you.

It especially stayed with me in 1981 after I wrote a feature story for our paper about the “Kirkwood Trapper.” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals came up to my office, while I was at lunch, and plastered my desk with “Fur Crying Out Loud” bumper stickers.

What kind of adhesive was on those stickers? It took me months to scrape the suckers off my desk. In the meantime, I read the articles the PETA folks left behind about steel-jawed traps and the suffering of raccoons, beavers and rabbits – and a few family pets –  that all had their legs stuck in jagged traps.

The PETA articles were reasonable enough, but the group’s guerrilla tactics seemed a little extreme. I continued to think along those lines, and was no more sympathetic, even when nude female models paraded the streets proclaiming: “We’d rather go naked than  wear fur.”

Is this really necessary?

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Lawmakers Vow To Stop Green Energy Line in Missouri

by Don Corrigan (WKT)

Kirkwood’s quest to obtain greener and cheaper electricity looked brighter after judges and state regulators gave the Grain Belt Express power line the okay. Now, state legislators are trying to turn lights out on the power line.

“The legislature is trying to stop this transmission line with bills that are now getting fast-tracked in the statehouse,” said Mark Petty, director of Kirkwood Electric Department. “We urge our residents to contact legislators and express their concern over this.”

Kirkwood is part of a coalition of city utilities, which includes Hannibal and Columbia, that have agreed to buy 500 megawatts of the cheaper power. That agreement persuaded utility regulators in the state that the transmission project bringing Kansas wind energy into Missouri and Illinois is in the public interest.

Legislators want to block the project at the behest of farmers and rural landowners who object to eminent domain being used for the project. The line would stretch 200 miles through counties in northern Missouri.

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The Missouri Department of Conservation Announces Eagle Days Event Schedule

Photo courtesy MDC.

From December through February, Missouri’s winter eagle watching is spectacular. Discover nature with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) through Eagle Days events around the state or enjoy watching bald eagles on your own.

Because of Missouri’s big rivers, many lakes, and abundant wetlands, the Show-Me state is one of the leading lower 48 states for bald eagle viewing. Each fall, thousands of these great birds migrate south from their nesting range in Canada and the Great Lakes states to hunt in Missouri. Eagles take up residence wherever they find open water and plentiful food. More than 2,000 bald eagles are typically reported in Missouri during winter.

MDC Eagle Days Events

MDC Eagle Days events are listed below. They include live captive-eagle programs, exhibits, activities, videos, and guides with spotting scopes. Watch for eagles perched in large trees along the water’s edge. View them early in the morning to see eagles flying and fishing. Be sure to dress for winter weather and don’t forget cameras and binoculars.

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