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Expanding Bicycle Use On Conservation Areas Proposed by MDC

MDC has proposed regulations that would allow the expanded use of bicycles and electric bicycles on most department-area service roads and multi-use trails, such as at Canaan Conservation Area in Gasconade County (shown). Photo: MDC

Proposed regulations would allow expanded bicycle use on many conservation area service roads and/or multi-use trails while restricting access to heavily used areas and natural areas.

The Missouri Conservation Commission gave initial approval to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) at its Aug. 27 open meeting on proposed regulation changes that would allow the expanded use of bicycles and electric bicycles on most department-area service roads and multi-use trails. The Commission also gave initial approval to MDC definitions of bicycles and electric bicycles.

According to MDC, conservation-area users have expressed interest in expanding the use of bicycles and electric bicycles to include conservation-area service roads and multi-use trails for greater access to the areas.

Bicycle use on MDC’s approximately 1,100 conservation areas is currently restricted to roads open to public-vehicle traffic and some multi-use trails. Bicycle use is currently not allowed on conservation-area service roads.

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ZOOFARI 2021: Biennial Fundraiser To Benefit the Saint Louis Zoo

Enjoy dinner, drinks and music under the night sky at the Saint Louis Zoo’s most-anticipated fundraiser! Proceeds support the Saint Louis Zoo and its conservation efforts here and around the world.
When: 7 p.m. until midnight on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021
On Sept. 10, the Zoo is open to the public from 9 a.m. until noon, when it will close for preparations.
Where: Saint Louis Zoo
Event Information: The biennial creative black-tie party for ages 21+ includes:
  • Live music by local bands and DJs on multiple stages, including the Fabulous Motown Revue, Miss Jubilee, Mo Egestion, The Usual Suspects, Wax Museum, DJ Chris Brown and DJ Micro
  • Food stations throughout the Zoo offering unlimited sweet and savory dishes with catering provided by the Zoo’s executive chef and culinary team.
  • The 2021 event format has changed and does not include local restaurant vendors this year.
  • Premium open bars with beer, wine, and specialty cocktails
  • Special fundraising activities to benefit the Zoo, including a wine and spirits pull, local restaurant gift card pull, and Kendra Scott Color Bar™ experience
  • Take a ride on the Mary Ann Lee Conservation Carousel and the Emerson Zooline Railroad
Tickets: Advance tickets are required. Purchase tickets online at stlzoo.org/zoofari.
  • General Admission tickets available at stlzoo.org/zoofari:
    • $200 per person for Zoo Members
    • $250 per person for non-members
  •  Sponsorship-level tickets available at stlzoo.org/zoofari:
    • $1,000: 2 tickets, access to VIP reception, table accommodations and program listing
    • $3,500: 10 tickets, early admission, reserved table and program listing
    • See stlzoo.org/zoofari for additional sponsorship levels and benefits

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The Plants of Creve Coeur Park: Walk & Learn

Pictured: Mitch Leachman.

Mitch Leachman will lead a tour of the bottomland forest, prairie restoration and lake edge at Creve Coeur Park on September 11, starting at 8 a.m., located at Creve Coeur Park Lake, 2160 Creve Coeur Mill Rd., Maryland Heights, MO 63146. The tour is free and registration is required.

 

Find more information about the event below from the Sustainable Backyard Network.

Don’t miss our first in-person gathering since the 2019 Shindig! In this outdoor lesson in biodiversity, Mitch Leachman will lead a tour of the bottomland forest, prairie restoration and lake edge at Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park’s Mallard Lake. Both native and non-native plants will be highlighted as the group traverses a 2.5 mile loop trail. Commentary will be offered on plant behavior, wildlife value and suitability for landscaping projects.

Group size is limited to 20 and advance registration is required. Please note: All are welcome to attend, regardless of vaccination status. Should you not be fully vaccinated, we do ask that you wear a mask at all times out of consideration for the presenter and each other.

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Fall Color Flop? Maybe.

By Holly Shanks

Well, I was looking forward to Fall this year. It happens to be my favorite time of year and the drive from St. Louis to Hannibal or Branson usually shows off the colors of nature.

CNN recently posted an online article, “Why autumn weather won’t be the same this year,” by Hannah Gard and Allison Chinchar, CNN Meteorologists.

The article offers several interesting updates, but I was certainly bummed about the colorful foliage I was looking forward to. Just another thing to add to the list of disappointment this year.

However, I will remain hopeful and look forward to the possibility of a few reds, golds, yellows and oranges this year. And, next year, as I remain hopeful for, will see me and my husband on the Fall color search road trip again!

Check out the CNN online article HERE.

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Prairie Chicken Count At 100 In Missouri As Habitat Losses Continue 

Photo Credit: Dan Wundrock. Public domain.

By Allison Hagene

The farming industry has been the biggest threat to the bird’s survival, destroying thousands of acres of natural habitat to use for agricultural purpose. Agricultural pesticides also kill insects that prairie chickens depend on.  

Greater Prairie Chickens are non-migratory bird. When their habitat is destroyed, they have nowhere to go. They have no alternate destination. The tall, dense grasses in Missouri prairies enable the birds to nest, hide, and raise their young, without the ecosystem they depend on, they are extremely vulnerable. Deprived of their homes the Prairie Chickens are unable to reproduce productively and lose diversity. 

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For God’s Snakes, Give the Reptiles a Break!

Photo by Dan Zarlenga, Missouri Department of Conservation.

By Don Corrigan

Residents in the Times reading area are no strangers to snakes. Forested properties near local homes mean the vipers can be as close as your fire pit wood pile or a rock border on your garden.

Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center in Kirkwood gets phone calls, emails and even photos of snakes found at residential homes. Residents want to know if the creature they took a selfie with is venomous.

The two most common venomous snakes in our area are copperheads and timber rattle snakes, according to Erin Shank, urban wildlife biologist at the conservation center. Visitors to Powder Valley can see these two poisonous snakes in captivity.

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Spiny Soft-Shell Turtles: Healthy In Missouri, Struggling In Canada 

Turtle found traveling near a private lake in Crawford County Missouri. Photo by Allison Hagene

Allison Hagene

Missouri is home to a wide range of turtle species, with many different ecosystems to inhabit. A wide variety of turtles reside all over the state. One specific turtle has a very unique look: a large smooth speckled shell, a pointed, pig-like nose, and wrinkly feet. 

The Spiny Soft-Shell Turtle is found in Missouri in large lakes, rivers, and ponds with sandy or muddy bottoms. They can be found throughout the United States, and even in Mexico and Canada. They are exceptionally good swimmers and spend much of their lives in water, even burying themselves in lake bottoms to avoid cold temperatures in wintering months. 

The soft-shell turtle is actually not currently listed as endangered in the United States but is endangered in Canada. The major issue in Canada is the advancement of industry and water structures. The turtles are losing habitat due to dams, waterside development, water level changes, and human recreational intrusions. 

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Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly Endangered Due To Human Encroachment 

Photo by Paul Burton/USFWS.

By Allison Hagene

Listed as endangered since 1955, the Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly has struggled to maintain healthy populations. One main concern is habitat loss – humans have destroyed their ecosystems for development and agricultural purposes, which not only eliminates food sources, but also changes water levels where the dragonflies lay their eggs. 

The farming industry has also caused setbacks for the dragonfly with the use of pesticides and herbicides. Toxic pollutants damage reproductive abilities, reduce healthy ecosystems and insect populations, and contaminate water sources – making them unable to support offspring.

The Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly is a unique insect with a long, dark body containing two yellow stripes, and large explosively green eyes. They live in high calcium carbonate spring-fed marshes and meadows where they eat mosquitos, gnats, and other small aquatic bugs. Dragonfly larvae can live up to five years, while adults live for, at most, seven weeks. Their short life span is filled with feeding, reproduction, and egg laying, making those seven weeks vital to species growth and survival. 

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Stay Safe When Enjoying Nature: Know the Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illnesses

Photo by Holly Shanks

Missouri State Parks released information about how to stay healthy and what warning signs to pay attention to while enjoying the outdoors.

Heat-related illnesses, like heat exhaustion or heat stroke, happen when the body is not able to properly cool itself. While the body normally cools itself by sweating, during extreme heat this might not be enough. Knowing the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses can help you stay safe when enjoying nature.

Warning signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness and weakness, dizziness or fainting, headache, nausea or vomiting.

To help prevent heat-related illness when exploring Missouri’s state parks and historic sites, follow these safety tips:

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Missouri Gray Bats Suffer With Loss of Habitat 

Photo by MDC Staff, courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation.

By Allison Hagene 

The Missouri Gray Bat once flourished in caves across the southeastern U.S., but since 1976 they have been consistently documented as an endangered species. Living only in an estimated 11 caves across the country, the Gray Bat has been struggling to cope with human encroachment, cave disturbances and diseases in their underground living spaces. 

Human disturbance is posing a very real and growing threat to the Gray Bat’s population growth. When humans enter a nursery cave, they can scare mothers who abandon their young which then either die from starvation or fall out of the nest and die on impact. When humans also enter wintering caves, they disturb hibernating bats that, when woken early, use up fat reserves and die from starvation as well. Both issues can collapse a colony’s population and reproduction for the whole year. 

Conservation efforts are underway to try to preserve Gray Bat populations, including maintaining and protecting wintering and nursery caves from disturbances, as well as reducing pesticide use in surrounding areas. 

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