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Great Rivers Greenway Offers Biking Safety Tips

Don Levee Bike

Pictured: Don Corrgian

by Don Corrigan

Planning logistics for a biking excursion or a hiking adventure, and addressing safety concerns, are a big part of having a satisfactory experience. Another major piece of making things go well involves “trail etiquette.”

The Great Rivers Greenway (GRG) organization offers a number of etiquette tips for using its network of trails in the greater St. Louis area, but they are universal and can apply to many trails statewide and nationally.

Among the GRG advisories:

•Keep pets leashed and close, pick up and throw away all pet waste.

•Whether you’re walking, running, biking, pushing a stroller, using a wheelchair or anything else, yield to those moving at a slower speed than you.

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Author Of “Katy Trail: A Guided Tour Through History” Emphasizes Safety

Photo: Thirty bike riders get ready for a ride on the Katy Trail from The Peers Store to McKittrick and back – about 40 miles round trip. The bikers are all Pedego electric bike owners. Electric bikes are just one reason why the number of bicyclists on the Katy Tail are increasing from week to week.

By Don Corrigan

Due to the pandemic, outside recreation has increased. The number of bikers and hikers on trails has accelerated. Safety experts are telling trail users now to be aware and to exercise caution to enjoy trail activities.

Kathy Schrenk of Kirkwood, who writes books for hikers and bikers, puts the emphasis on safety first. In fact, “Safety First” is a section title in her new book, “Katy Trail: A Guided Tour Through History.”

“Before I wrote about all the fun there is to bike on the Katy Trail, I wanted to point out essential safety tips,” said Schrenk. “After a trail user was shot by accident by a hunter recently, I’ve had even more questions about safety.

“I always advise wearing bright color clothing when biking and hiking for visibility,” said Schrenk. “I guess we can say that is especially true during a hunting season.”

The jogger shot on the Lewis And Clark Trail near Weldon Spring was hit by a shotgun blast on May 8. The hunter, who said he was attempting to shoot a turkey, hit the victim in the chest. State conservation officials said the hunter was too near the trail.

Schrenk said the trail incident was probably a freak accident, but it underlined the importance of wearing highly-visible, bright clothes. Also, brighter clothes offer better protection against damaging UV rays from the sun.

Schrenk, a mother of three, is an avid hiker and biker determined to instill a love of nature and safe outdoor adventures in kids. She has lived in Chicago and northern Illinois, the San Francisco Bay area, and now Missouri in Kirkwood.

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J. Marshall Magner: A Real Knack For Knowing Bugs

Marshall Magner CRBy Don Corrigan

Talk to J. Marshall Magner and the first thing he would do is disabuse you of any misconception that all insects are bugs. Conversation would often proceed from there and soon was likely to fly over the average human’s head. A frustrated Magner sometimes relied on large models of insects with detachable abdomen, thorax and head to make his scientific points.

When Magner was born in northwest Webster in 1913, the area was woods, farms and a few homes. Young Marshall was in the habit of collecting insects, frogs and snakes on the way home from getting milk from the Smith’s cows in the morning. Sometimes critters got loose in the house. In his teens, he hunted and roamed the woods as far north as Olive Street Road. St. Louis County was still largely rural in his early days.

Magner’s outdoor interest and insect love led him to a career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In the military in World War II, he served in Europe and Africa. Later, Magner landed with Monsanto Company and he studied insects worldwide, sometimes on long stints in Central America. He shared his collecting skills and knowledge with the youngsters when he returned to Webster Groves. This garnered him the honor of the naming of Larson Park’s children’s playground as “Marshall Magner’s Bug Kingdom.”

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The New Anne O’C. Albrecht Nature Playscape In Forest Park Is Now Open To The Public!

Forest Park Forever Play 2021Ready, Set, Go! Visit Forest Park to check out the newly opened 17-acre playscape! Get out and enjoy the natural setting while connecting to nature in a green space for children and the young at heart!

Forest Park Forever details interesting information about some of the elements it took to create the green space, including 1,500 tons of boulders and rock, including Missouri limestone, 30 tons of sand, 1+ miles of paths, 30+ benches made from fallen or hazard local trees, 1500+ wood stump steppers and 300 newly planted trees. See what the addition has to offer in the included video, along with more details about the green space listed below.

Forest Park Forever website: This highly anticipated opening follows nearly two years of construction to transform what had been 17 acres of turf grass into a one-of-a-kind experiential play space with natural landscapes that include native and diverse species. The project was funded by donors to the nonprofit conservancy Forest Park Forever and completed in partnership with the City of St. Louis.

“The Anne O’C. Albrecht Nature Playscape is an experiential green space built to enable visitors, especially children, to connect with nature and engage their senses as they explore, discover and learn. The destination features nine distinct activity areas — including Mounds, a Spring, a Meadow, a Wetland and more — and a series of accessible paths and boardwalks that connect them.”

Anne O’C. Albrecht Nature Playscape By the Numbers

  • Playscape Size: 17 acres

  • Trees planted: 300

  • Shrubs planted: 700

  • Perennials Planted: 40,000

  • Boulders & Rocks: 1,500 tons, including Missouri limestone

  • Paths: 1+ miles

  • Boardwalks: 4

  • Wood Stump Steppers: 1,500+

  • Sand for Play Areas: 30 tons

  • Hand Water Pumps: 5

  • Boot-Washing Stations: 2

  • Benches: 30+ made from fallen or hazard local trees

  • Bike Racks: 7

  • Drinking Fountains: 3

  • Design & Build Cost: $5 million

  • Cost to enter and enjoy: $0

MDC Invites The Public On A Virtual Cave Exploration June 15

MDC explore a cave

Photo: MDC

What’s the next best thing to experiencing an adventure in person?  Experiencing it live as it happens through modern, live stream technology.  The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is providing the opportunity for anyone to follow Missouri cave explorers virtually in real time using their computer or mobile device as the group prepares for a subterranean trek.

MDC will hold an Introduction to Caves and Caving virtual program Tuesday, June 15 from 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.  The event is free and open to all ages.  This is a hybrid event, where 10 pre-scheduled participants will embark on a caving journey, while a virtual audience can follow along as they start their trip.

The event begins with an educational, in-classroom presentation that will cover many aspects of Missouri’s caves.  Participants will learn about these unusual habitats, the life forms that live there, and why we need to protect this unique ecosystem.

“Missouri is known as the Cave State.  It consists of over 7,500 natural caves and some contain unique animal life found nowhere else on earth, such as the Tumbling Creek cavesnail,” said MDC Naturalist, Shelly Colatskie.

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Three World of Wings programs in June Presented By MDC and World Bird Sanctuary

World of Wings MDC

Photo: MDC

Ask people what they feel the most amazing animal on Earth is, and many well tell you—birds.  Humans have long been captivated by their seemingly magical ability to fly freely through the sky.  The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is teaming up with the World Bird Sanctuary (WBS) to present three free in-person World of Wings events in June to help participants learn more about these fascinating feathered creatures.

The World of Wings events will take place Sunday, June 6, at 11 a.m.; Friday, June 18 at 3 p.m.; and Sunday, June 27 at 3 p.m.  Each presentation is open for ages 5 and up and will be conducted at the World Bird Sanctuary’s outdoor amphitheater, located at 125 Bald Eagle Ridge Road in Valley Park.

Participants will have the opportunity to see live hawks, eagles, owls, vultures and more up close and in person.  WBS naturalists will share their experiences and expertise about the special traits, habits, and unique adaptations these birds possess.  Learn about where birds live, what they eat, how they reproduce, and what sounds they make.  Whether it’s flying, flapping, hopping, skipping, or singing, guests will discover how and why birds do it. They’ll also find out the many ways birds impact the world, from our daily lives to the entire ecosystems.

These programs are made possible by an education cooperative agreement between MDC and the World Bird Sanctuary and are free to attend.  For over 40 years, the World Bird Sanctuary has helped restore the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, and American barn owl from near extinction.  They strive to support birds through education, conservation, and rehabilitation.

The World of Wings programs are free, but space is limited, and advanced online registration is required using the following links:

Participants are reminded to dress for the weather as the program will be held outdoors.  For the safety of participants and our staff, MDC asks all guests to observe social distancing guidelines and maintain at least six feet from others.  Bringing and wearing face coverings are encouraged when indoors, or any time visitors are unable to maintain at least six feet from others.

MDC offers many free educational programs in the St. Louis region to help people discover nature, fishing, hunting, and the outdoors.  Stay informed by going to the MDC St. Louis reginal events page at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZP6.

Jack Lorenz: From High School Cutup To Outdoor Champ

Environmental Echo will periodically single out outdoor / environmental heroes who have made a difference in the St. Louis area and beyond. Many of these individuals hail from the Webster Groves – Kirkwood area, where writer Don Corrigan is Editor Emeritus of the weekly Webster-Kirkwood Times. Corrigan is the author of Environmental Missouri by Reedy Press.
Jack Lorenz CR
by Don Corrigan

Who says environmentalists are all stuffy, humorless, killjoys? Jack Lorenz, who went to Webster Groves High School in the Happy Days era, enjoyed 1950s fast cars, fish stories and cutting up. He sometimes wore a monster mask he called “The Face.” He wore it while in the front seat of buddy Cy Perkin’s car. At a stop light in South St. Louis, they spied Stan the Man in the car next to them. Musial cracked up when “Jack The Face” rolled down the window to let out a hearty, “Hi, Stan!”

No big surprise that Lorenz coached football, basketball and baseball at a prep school while majoring in journalism at the University of Tulsa. He later joined the PR team of Falstaff Brewing, “America’s Premium Quality Beer,” a favorite of another WGHS alumnus named Harry Caray. While hustling Falstaff, Lorenz started a river clean-up campaign and helped create the “Pitch-in” anti-litter campaign.

A growing interest in outdoors lured the lifelong fly fisherman to move to Washington, D.C., to become editor in 1973 of Outdoor America, the magazine of the Izaak Walton League. A year later he was named executive director of the League, a post he would hold for 18 years. During his tenure as CEO of the League, he was asked to the White House to advise Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush. This was in the halcyon days of the environmentalism, when most politicians saw clean air and water, protection of parks and wilderness areas as winning issues.

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Learn “Bear” Essentials At A Free MDC Virtual Bear Aware Program On June 2

Bear MDC May 2021 2

Photo: MDC

It seems bears are getting around lately.  Bear sightings in several counties in the St. Louis region, and one even making rounds recently in Webster Groves, Richmond Heights, and Brentwood, show that Missouri’s largest mammals aren’t just confined to the deep Ozarks anymore.

Given that appearances by bears are becoming more common each year, Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) wildlife biologists anticipate that they will only increase with time as Missouri’s bear population continues to grow.  This makes learning about bears more relevant than ever.

MDC is offering a virtual Bear Aware program Wednesday, June 2, from 6:30-8 p.m. to help participants become more acquainted with these remarkable animals.  The event is open to all ages.

Black bears are Missouri’s biggest omnivore and are making a comeback in our state. Join MDC naturalists as they offer practical tips and measures that will help homeowners, hikers, and campers share bear country with bears safely.

“We will talk about how to prevent attracting bears to your home and how to avoid bear conflicts while camping,” said MDC Naturalist Nicki Wheaton.  Wheaton also said that the program will delve into the lives and natural history of bears and will take a look at the first ever Missouri black bear hunting season coming this fall.

Bear Aware is a free program; however, advanced online registration is required at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/Zrp. This is a virtual event through WebEx. Participants will receive an email invitation from Nichole.wheaton@mdc.mo.gov with the link approximately 24 hours prior to the event. Please check junk mail/spam folders if you do not receive the invitation.

MDC offers many free educational programs in the St. Louis region to help people discover nature, fishing, hunting, and the outdoors.  Stay informed by going to the MDC St. Louis regional events page at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZP6.

Enjoy Prairie Field Trips on National Prairie Day—June 5, 2021

Lindens Prairie RSKinerson

The Missouri Prairie Foundation® invites all to recognize and celebrate prairies in Missouri and throughout the nation on National Prairie Day. Learn about and enjoy Missouri Prairie Foundation prairies at several free events planned for this special day.

Prairie is a defining landscape of the United States. From the prairies of the Great Plains and Midwest to the glades, coastal grasslands, and other related communities throughout the country, grasslands have benefited Americans in countless ways.

Today, our native grassland legacy has been dramatically reduced to scattered remnants of its once vast 160-million-acre domain across North America. These remnants, from pocket prairies with their beauty and diversity of plants, insects, birds, and other grassland wildlife, to the larger tracts that support cattle ranching, antelope, bison, and other large animals, remain vitally important to people for their contributions to water quality, soil health, carbon storage, forage protection in drought, and wildlife and pollinator habitat.

In 2016, the Missouri Prairie Foundation established National Prairie Day, registered on the National Day Calendar as the first Saturday in June. The goals of this special day are to enhance public awareness of what prairie is, educate about its value, and motivate and inspire all to support prairie conservation, restoration, and enjoyment. This year, National Prairie Day is Saturday, June 5, 2021.

“All are invited to join us in recognizing National Prairie Day,” said Carol Davit, executive director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation, a 55-year-old non-profit prairie conservation organization and nationally accredited land trust.

“National Prairie Day provides a day of focus across the United States to inspire learning, appreciation, and exploration of our national prairie legacy. We have educational events planned at several Missouri Prairie Foundation prairies to help Missourians enjoy these rare and beautiful resources.”

Spend National Prairie Day in a Missouri Prairie Foundation Prairie with one or more of our field trips on June 5:

Learn more about National Prairie Day and how you can be a part of this special day across the nation at nationalprairieday.org.

The Missouri Prairie Foundation is a 55-year-old conservation organization and nationally accredited land trust that protects and restores prairie and other native grasslands through acquisition, management, education, and support of prairie research. The organization owns 25 properties totaling 3,700 acres of prairie across the state and works with partners to inspire conservation of thousands more. The Missouri Prairie Foundation is also home to the 21-year-old Grow Native! native plant education and marketing program and administers the Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force.