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Musical Artist John Nilsen Returns to Powder Valley Nature Center On May 5

Pictured: musical artist John Nilsen. Photo: MDC

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will once again welcome popular northwest musical artist John Nilsen to a live performance, The Magic of Music with John Nilsen, at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center Friday, May 5 at 7 p.m.  The concert is free and open to the public.  Nilsen’s stop at Powder Valley is part of a statewide tour, including performances at multiple MDC nature centers.

For this multi-media engagement, Nilsen will compliment his nature-inspired music with the spectacular nature and wildlife images of award-winning MDC Photographer Noppadol Paothong.  Paothong’s photography can be seen regularly in MDC’s Missouri Conservationist magazine, as well as many other MDC publications.

Paothong’s stunning photography will be displayed on Powder Valley’s giant video screen, accompanied by Nilsen’s live performance in the nature center’s auditorium.

Nilsen is a noted pianist and acoustic musician who comes from Portland, Oregon.  As a sought-after entertainer throughout the U.S., Nilsen has performed in all 50 states and on four continents.  A Yamaha signature artist, Nilsen travels internationally playing over 225 performances a year.

Reservations required – see more below.

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Save Bangert Island! Criticism Grows Over St. Charles’ Riverpointe Development

Photos provided by Scott George,
Environmental Science Consulting.

by Don Corrigan

A multi-million dollar plan for an entertainment and retail district, south of the St. Charles Historic District and along the Missouri River, has stirred up opposition from a number of key constituencies.

Many of the objections come from plans to alter the wooded Missouri River wildlife area known as Bangert Island. Developers hope to make the island more attractive for visitors and to elevate adjacent ground out of the floodplain.

Among the concerns of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are the impacts to the forested wetland. A natural wetland system would be replaced by an engineered system, likely requiring high maintenance.

Missouri River floods have previously deposited huge volumes of sediment and woody debris, which require removal and dredging maintenance, according to the Corps.
Scott George, a naturalist and biologist with Environmental Science Consulting, said floodplain loss will inevitably result in increased damage to property when the Missouri River floods. Taxpayers will be on the hook.

“Any additional floodplain filling and removal of native vegetation is going to increase local flooding,” said George. “The forested wetlands, which slow flood velocities and transpire tons of water, will be filled. It’s death by a thousand cuts.”

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Battling Light Pollution: IDA Group Says Everyone Suffers When Stars Don’t Twinkle

Pictured: Jake Ronecker at Powder Valley Conservation Area.

By Don Corrigan

Jake Ronecker of Webster Groves recalls a night sky full of twinkling stars when he was a youngster. Much of that twinkling has disappeared. The dedicated naturalist is working to bring some celestial beauty back for kids of the future.

Ronecker and other members of the Missouri chapter of International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) will tell you that working to reduce light pollution can bring back twinkling stars, but it’s also all about bringing back a healthier planet.

“It’s sad that more than 80% of Americans can no longer look up and see the Milky Way where they live,” said Ronecker. “What’s even more worrying, though, is what light pollution is doing to our health, and the well-being of other creatures on the planet.”

Consider the birds of the air, as a prophet of old once told us. Birds are having a tough time migrating and surviving. They no longer can see the stars that might guide them to where they need to fly, but they do see plenty of lights.

According to Ronecker, the Mississippi River Flyway is an important sky-high highway for birds. The lights of St. Louis and those on the Gateway Arch have disrupted the flight patterns and bird migrations for years.

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Outdoorsmen Beware! When Owls Attack – These Birds Are Not Always Just Wise And Old

Barred Owl. Photo: MDC

Note: This story is a follow-up to Environmental Echo’s Feb.15 story on owls and how reports of owl attacks seem to be on the increase. Experts say ill-effects from owl attacks on humans are rare – and they may be increasing because humans are in closer proximity to owls due to habitat encroachment.

by Don Corrigan

Owls sport reputations for being shy, wise and old. However, social media accounts and tabloid TV stories are now portraying these feathered fellows as dangerous. Are wise, old owls in attack mode?

Dr. John Galgani used to laugh about stories of owl attacks. No more! He has a bike helmet and an umbrella ready for any rambunctious barred owls that might go after him this spring.

“We live on Gray Avenue in Webster Groves and we’ve known owls live in our neighborhood,” said Galgani. “I didn’t give it much thought to it until last April. Apparently, April is nesting season and that’s when they can get real aggressive.”

The Webster Groves pediatrician goes to work around 5:30 a.m. When he was first hit on a Friday morning last April. It was dark and he thought he might have just closed the car door on himself.

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Discover the Outdoors at WOW St. Louis Outdoor Skills Day In Forest Park, April 29

Photo: MDC

Are you looking for a safe and easy way for you and your family to discover outdoor adventures? The WOW St. Louis Outdoor Skills Day event is for you.  The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is joining a host of conservation partner organizations to bring WOW back for 2023.  The full day program is designed to give newcomers and first-time campers a chance to explore fishing, canoeing, archery, and more.

WOW is happening Saturday, April 29 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. in Forest Park.  It’s intended as a comprehensive educational program that allows participants to select from a variety of courses and workshops.  The cost to attend WOW is $10 per person, making it an affordable day of family fun.  Registration fee includes equipment for all activities and lunch is provided.

WOW offers classes in a variety of outdoor activities, each one with the goal of teaching participants how to enjoy a wide range of outdoor recreational activities while practicing personal safety and outdoor responsibility. Classes are open to anyone age 9 and up, however some classes have a safety age restriction of 11 and up. Littles WOW day camp is available for participants ages 5-8.

See registration information below.

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Radioactive Nightmare Continues: Never-Ending Story Of How St. Louis Pays For Atomic Age

“We need not even make war; only by preparing, by playing with our new weapons, we poison the air, the water, the soil of our plants, damage the health of the living, and weaken the chances of the newborn.”   —  Martha Gellhorn, War Correspondent

By Don Corrigan

A new book published at the end of 2022 explains the complex and  traumatic legacy of the atomic age in the St. Louis region. Given the half-life of radioactive materials, it seems no book can ever be the last word on what is a continual crisis.

Many American baby boomers can recall their fathers explaining to them that the atomic bomb was necessary to end World War II; that the human loss would have been much worse without it; that the legacy of the bomb was likely a Pax Americana and a lasting peace.

The baby boomers’ fathers had it wrong. They did not realize how atomic weapons would proliferate; how they would become more lethal; and, how the contaminant byproducts of the first bombs would endlessly plague the “Gateway City” of the American Midwest.

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Learn About Missouri’s Endangered Lake Sturgeon Recovery, March 30

MDC Fisheries Management Biologist (right) helps Gavin Stukenburg hold an 86-pound lake sturgeon Stukenburg snagged in 2022 at Maple Island Access. Photo: MDC

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) confirmed that state-endangered lake sturgeon spawned on April 23, 2022, along the Mississippi River in West Alton below the Melvin Price Lock and Dam (Number 26).  The event occurred at USACE’s Maple Island Access.  This was the first spawning to be confirmed since the activity was last seen in the same area in 2015.  These historic spawning events were the result of recovery efforts dating back more than 30 years.

What is the current state of lake sturgeons in Missouri?  What is the outlook for the future?  MDC Fisheries Management Biologist Travis Moore will address these questions and more at a special presentation Thursday, March 30 at 6 p.m.

The presentation will be held at the Audubon Center at Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary in West Alton, located less than two miles from where the spawning events took place in 2015 and 2022.  The program is offered in cooperation with the Audubon Society and the USACE.

Moore has been closely involved with the lake sturgeon recovery and monitoring program for 25 years and will talk about the history of the species in the Show-Me-State and the efforts to restore them to our waters.

Register for the event HERE.

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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.

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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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