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Missouri Scores Low Marks: Area Gets A Grim Environmental Report Card

By Don Corrigan

St. Louis and Missouri get low marks on a range of issues related to the region’s environmental health. That was a report given for an educational lecture series at the Parkway United Church of Christ in West County by the author of Environmental Missouri in May.

According to environmental writer Don Corrigan, the St. Louis region gets many failing grades once again for its failed efforts to clean up PCB and plastics pollution, as well as the West Lake landfill area in Bridgeton that has been contaminated with radiation for decades.

F – Area officials, including Rep. Ann Wagner, R-2nd Congressional District, settled for a flawed, partial cleanup plan in North County that is now in disarray – as experts have found more radioactive waste than anticipated. The plan is on hold.

D – Local officials have passed laws to limit the use of plastic ring holders and plastic bags. Their actions have been voided by the state legislature, controlled by people giving lip service to local control, but only lip service.

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KMOX Radio’s Nature Friend, Charlie Brennan, Will Be Missed Locally

Charlie Brennan at KMOX Radio. Photo: KSDK.

By Don Corrigan

A longtime friend of nature and the outdoors, broadcaster Charlie Brennan at KMOX Radio, stepped away from the microphone in May after doing his last morning show on the “Mighty MOX.”

Brennan hosted his final radio program on the Audacy station on May 12. He worked for more than 30 years with “News Radio 1120” KMOX-AM, which was once one of the flagship stations for the CBS Radio Network.

He joined KMOX to work evenings and weekends in 1998, after his early years at WNTN in Boston. Within two years, he began hosting the mid-morning shift where he has been heard ever since.

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Don Corrigan On FOX 2 News!

Check out Don Corrigan’s spotlight on FOX 2 News with Kim Hudson!

The new book Amazing Webster Groves takes us on a walk through the neighborhood, no matter where we live. Author Don Corrigan gave us a look before his book signing.

“Amazing Webster Groves”
Book Signing
Saturday, May 14
The Webster Groves Bookshop
27 N. Gore Ave.
Webster Groves, MO 63119

Click the link below to watch the interview!

2022 Awardees Honored at Forest Park Earth Day Festival

Representatives from the School District of University City and Missouri Green Schools AmeriCorps VISTA Parker pose in Forest Park after award presentation.

Congratulations to the winners! Read about the Earth Day awardees from the Missouri Green Schools Press release.

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School awardees, local conservation champions honored at annual festival’s return to Forest Park

Thousands of visitors attended earthday365’s 2022 Earth Day Festival at Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri on Saturday, April 23, 2022. This year, for the first time, earthday365 honored local conservation champions with a Sustainability Awards Ceremony.

Following a keynote speech from Rep. Cori Bush, The School District of University City and Principia School in St. Louis, MO were honored as awardees for the U.S. Department of Education’s 2022 Green Ribbon Honorees.

Across the country, only 27 schools, five districts, and four postsecondary institutions were honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education in 2022. These honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 19 states.

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Don Corrigan Talks American Roadkill on KMOX

In this April 26 interview on KMOX Radio, American Roadkill author Don Corrigan points out that his writing is in the great animal rights tradition of Joseph Grinnell of the 1920s, who was alarmed at the animal carnage on America’s new highways. Grinnell was a zoologist in California who wrote roadkill diaries.
Also in the tradition in which Corrigan writes is James R. Simmons. He published Feathers and Fur on the Turnpike in 1938. Simmons recorded roadkill destruction on New York highways. One of his tallies on Route 85, included: 13 woodchucks, 9 skunks, 2 raccoons, 11 squirrels, 4 chipmunks, 6 snakes, 3 turtles, 5 frogs and a single toad during one month.
Simmons declared: “Collectively we seem to think nothing of annihilating distance, time, wildlife and  occasionally ourselves as we step on the gas.”

Kirkwood’s St. Hellbender: Hellbender Fans Recall Karen Goellner’s Care Of Critters

Karen Goellner holding a wriggling endangered Hellbender. Photos by Jeffrey Briggler.

By Don Corrigan

Fans of Missouri hellbenders recently gathered at the Saint Louis Zoo to honor the life and work of Kirkwood’s Karen Goellner. If working with hellbenders can get you into heaven, she is in a good place.

“She put in the hard work to help save the endangered Ozark hellbenders,” said Charlie Hoessle, a renowned herpetologist and director emeritus of the Saint Louis Zoo. “She traveled down to the Ozark streams with many of us who were interested in this species.

“Her late husband, Ron, also was keenly interested in amphibians and fish and snakes,” added Hoessle. “Before I went to the Zoo, he used to come in to my pet shop in Affton and look at all the creatures. Ron and Karen were great for each other and for the hellbenders.”

Hellbenders, sometimes known as “snot otters,” are large, aquatic amphibians. The hellbender has a flat head, wrinkly body and paddle-shaped tail. Its body is dark gray or brown with irregular dark spots along its back.

Like so many animal species whose survival is under threat, hellbenders have problems because of habitat degradation. This includes declines in water quality, erosion issues, silt covering their rocky living places and difficulties producing young in a damaged environment.

Even before humans defiled their favorite living spots, fishermen proved hostile to hellbenders. They viewed them as small monsters hurting trout and bass fishing, so they captured hellbenders and drove stakes through them.

Saint Louis Zoo experts and volunteers have intervened on behalf of hellbenders. They built a nurturing, artificial environment at the Zoo. These tank “streams” allowed them to thrive and reproduce.

The first successful breeding of hellbenders at the Zoo only took place after tender, loving care. They were destined to be reintroduced to their native habitat in waterways like the Current, Jacks Fork and Eleven Point rivers.

Group photo of the Saint Louis Zoo staff, USFWS, and Karen Goellner assisting with augmenting wild collected Ozark Hellbenders in the outdoor streams for captive-breeding. This was completed in the summer of 2011 and the first successful captive breeding occurred in the fall of 2011.

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Rock Bridge Memorial State Park hosts spring wildflower walk April 23

Photo by Holly Shanks

Enjoy the beauty of spring wildflowers on a guided walking tour with the park naturalist at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park from 9:30-11 a.m. Saturday, April 23.

Learn how to identify wildflowers, discover what makes each one unique, and find out about their edible, medicinal and poisonous qualities. Space is limited, please register for the walk by calling 573-449-7400.

Participants should meet the naturalist at the Devil’s Icebox parking lot for a 1 mile hike on Spring Brook Trail. The walk covers both flat and hilly terrain. Participants are encouraged to dress for the weather, bring water, and wear sturdy shoes and insect repellent.

Prior to the hike you may participate in an open house at 9 a.m for Jewell Cemetery Historic Site, Rock Bridge Memorial State Park and the Midwest Section of the Katy Trail State Park.

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is located 7 miles south of Columbia on Highway 163.

For more information on state parks and historic sites, visit Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.


Gardeners are invited to Powder Valley Nature Center’s Native Plant Workshop and Sale April 9

Mark and Diane Burger make cut flower arrangements from the wildflowers and pollinator plots in the two acres around their Kirksville home. Photo: MDC

This in ideal introduction for homeowners and budding native gardeners, with presentations from Shaw Nature Reserve’s Scott Woodbury.

Native gardeners can arm themselves with the knowledge and plants they’ll need to establish their own native gardens at a special event hosted by the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Powder Valley Nature Center.

Get a head start on spring planting with Powder Valley’s Native Plant Workshop and Sale, happening Saturday, April 9 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.  Admission to the event is free and includes both opportunities to learn about native plants and to purchase them for planting at home.  The workshop is geared for beginning gardeners or native plant-curious homeowners.

Headlining the event will be a live presentation from native plant expert Scott Woodbury, horticulturalist at Shaw Nature Reserve.  Woodbury will talk about the many benefits of planting natives and how to get started doing it.  He will offer his program twice, both virtually and in-person, from 11 a.m. – noon and from 1-2 p.m.

Visitors will have the chance for self-guided exploration at a number of educational tables set up at the event.  The tables will cover topics that include how to create a rain garden, identifying and dealing with non-native invasive plants, planting to attract wildlife and pollinators, and the value of caterpillars and mason bees.  Participants can also learn about nature journaling in their own home gardens, and how to use the iNaturalist Seek mobile app to help ID plants and animals.

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April: It’s Time For Earth Day and “Cli-Fi” Reads

Pictured: Patrick Fleming and his wife, Suzanne Lauber-Fleming.

By Don Corrigan

April is now known for Earth Day and green lifestyles. Author Patrick Fleming thinks it’s time for a good “cli-fi” read, but as a psychotherapist he also counsels for hope in a time of climate crisis.

Fleming, a familiar figure in Kirkwood after 25 years of counseling at his office on Clay Avenue, is doing presentations on his novel, “Gaia’s Revenge.” He laces his talks with advice on coping with climate crisis.

“Medical research shows startling rates of pessimism over wildfires, floods, mega-storms,” said Fleming. “A recent survey by The Lancet found 75% of people are frightened for the future and 56% agree with the statement: ‘humanity is doomed.’

“Young people are especially discouraged,” added Fleming. “Almost 40% report being hesitant about the idea of bearing children because of threats to the future presented by a warming planet.”

Fleming’s upbeat response is a psychological counselor’s talk entitled, “Keep Your Brain Cool, Your Heart Warm, and Set Your Soul on Fire.” He offers a seven-point program for staying positive.

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American Roadkill Book Event At Webster University On April 7

Webster Groves Nature Study Society and Webster University Sustainability Studies Committee will join together at 7 p.m., April 7, to host a presentation by Don Corrigan on his book, American Roadkill: Animal Victims of Our Busy Highways. The event is free and open to the public.

American Roadkill chronicles the one million animals lost to traffic mishaps every day in America and new efforts to reduce the carnage. More than $300 million dollars has been allocated in the 2022 Infrastructure Bill passed by Congress to address such wildlife loss.

In light of current world events, author Corrigan said he plans to focus on “thought leaders who have made the point that if we care more about the fate of wildlife, we will care more about each other.”

Those thought leaders include: Rachel Carson, Joseph Grinnell, Saint Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis, Gary L. Francione, Timothy Findlay and a growing number of self-proclaimed roadkill artists.

The event is slated for 7 p.m., Thursday, April 7, in the Conference Room of Webster University’s Emerson Library on Edgar Road across from the Loretto Hilton Theatre. Parking is available at the university garage on Garden Avenue just east of Edgar Road.

Webster Groves Nature Study Society recently celebrated 100 years of studying and advocating for the region’s flora and fauna. Webster University Sustainability Studies Committee is a group of faculty who teach about nature, environmental sciences and sustainable lifestyles.