Category Archives: Outdoor/Nature

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Celebrate Powder Valley Nature Center’s 30th Anniversary at Autumn Festival event Oct. 29

Families enjoy the fall color by walking the trails at Powder Valley.

MDC invites the public to help celebrate Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center’s 30th anniversary at an Anniversary Autumn Festival Friday, Oct. 29 from 6-9 p.m.  This special event is free and open to the whole family. (online preregistration to attend is required.)

 

The average price for a gallon of gas was $1.14; Terminator 2: Judgement Day dominated the box office; George H. W. Bush was president of the United States, and Boyz II Men was just breaking into the music scene.  The year was 1991, and something great was happening for St. Louis-area nature lovers too—the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) opened Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center.

MDC invites the public to help celebrate Powder Valley’s 30-year anniversary at an Anniversary Autumn Festival Friday, Oct. 29 from 6-9 p.m.  This special event is free and open to the whole family.  Enjoy a beautiful fall evening with plenty of autumn-inspired outdoor activities.

Visitors will be able to go for a hayride and enjoy a bonfire complete with s’mores.  There will also be fall themed crafts, games, and other fun activities to celebrate Powder Valley’s anniversary. MDC will even provide free hotdogs, popcorns, s’mores, and drinks.

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Kay Drey: Whistleblower for an Atomic Age in St. Louis

Environmentalist Kay Drey will be honored at the First Amendment Celebration of the St. Louis Gateway Journalism Review. The event will be on Wednesday, October 27, 2021, from 7-8 p.m. Sign up for this virtual celebration at tinyurl.com/3rakxfet.

The celebration will benefit the nation’s only regional journalism review. Keynote Speaker is former U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Kirkwood, Missouri.  

By Don Corrigan

Kay Drey is an activist, environmentalist, a whistleblower, an Earth Mother. Who could argue that there is anyone more passionate than Kay Drey about protecting humanity from the dangers of the atomic age?

Humanity means mothers, fathers, children – it’s not just a word. She is the premier whistleblower because she has educated so many journalists to blow the whistle, to make some noise, to sound the alarm in defense of man, woman and child.

She is the Paul Revere of the Nuclear Age:

• “Mobile Chernobyls are coming!” she warned us.

•  “Plutonium is coming!” she warned us.

• “Polonium is coming! Have you heard of it?” she asked us.

Who else but Kay Drey would have tritium3 as her email address? It is impossible to message her without wondering if this radioactive element might be contaminating the neighborhood.

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Squirrel Photo Contest Winners Announced!

The squirrel photo contest has ended. We had some wonderful entries! The winners will receive a phone call about how to collect their prizes.

Here are the winners!

(Look for more contest photos next week! We received so many great photos that we will share them with everyone soon!)

First Place
John Langholz from Webster Groves, Mo
(winner gave permission to post his full name.)

First Place Winner

Second Place
Bruce B. from Kirkwood, Mo

Second Place Winner

Third Place
Don F. from Lonedell, Mo

Third Place Winner

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Squirrel Photo Winners To Be Awarded At Magnificent Missouri Event On Oct. 17

UPDATE: Squirrel photos are coming in hot and heavy!

Don’t forget to send your squirrel photos in for the contest! Deadline is October 15. Email the photo entries to environmentalecho@gmail.com. 

Thank you for all the photo submissions received so far! 

Squirrels are frantically flipping out and burying acorns. It’s their pre-winter thing. Which makes squirrels great photo subjects this time of year.

A squirrel photography contest is now frantically underway.

Send your best squirrel images to the Missouri Nature Blog, EnvironmentalEcho.com. Limit of three photos per photographer, please. Deadline is October 15.

Squirrel photograph images should be sent on the worldly squirrel wide web to the email address: environmentalecho@gmail.com. Photograph winners will receive Squirrel Baskets packed with plenty of squirrel goodies.

Three winners will be announced at the Squirrel Day Table at Magnificent Missouri’s Elevator Days on Sunday, Oct. 17 at Treloar on the Katy Trial. Shuttle will be available to take visitors to the Peers Store just east of Treloar on the Katy Trail.

Professor Don Corrigan will give a Powerpoint lecture on his book, “Nuts About Squirrels” at the Peers Store at 1 p.m. The lecture and his book detail the importance of squirrel characters in our American popular culture.

Some tips about photographing live squirrels: Good squirrel photos should be close-up showing their character. Action photos are best.

Squirrels make good subjects because they are just plain cute. They are very cunning and will work very hard to get to a food source, i.e., your bird feeder. They offer endless opportunities for great photos with their gymnastic abilities.

They can be difficult at times to photograph because they are constantly on the move and you have to anticipate what they are going to do next. This is what makes photographing them so much fun.

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Trouble In Tree City USA: Storms, Disease Hit Suburban Trees

By Don Corrigan

There’s trouble in Tree City USA – and that means Tree with a “T” and that means Kirkwood and that means Webster Groves. And that means oaks, maples, elms, pines – and more.

Residents with mature trees in their yards have learned this summer that they don’t necessarily have it made in the shade. Their trees have taken a trouncing from storms, pests, rot, fungi – and more.

Perhaps the surest sign of this came on a July weekend when a microburst storm took down massive trees in the area. Earlier this spring, residents were sounding the alarm over pin oaks shedding yellow leaves.

“Trees are wonderful community assets, but they require some TLC and regular observation to determine care needs,” said Bill Ruppert, a Kirkwood horticulturalist and owner of National Nursery Products. “Homeowners are wise to invest in trees, but it’s also wise to keep up with your investments.”

Ruppert recommends tree owners have periodic tree health evaluations by a certified consulting arborist. These should check on presence of pests, nutritional needs and safety conditions related to limb and branch structure.

“We are learning so much now about the importance of putting thought into what kind of trees we plant in order to head off a lot of tree problems,” added Ruppert. “It’s important to think about site and diversity when planting trees.”

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Area Squirrels Ramp Up Their Fall Nutty Activities

Photo by Charles Hoessle, former St. Louis Zoo Director.

By Don Corrigan

If you’ve been paying attention to the wildlife near your home, you may have noticed squirrels are going a little nuts. They’re in their pre-winter ritual of hoarding and burying acorns.

An animal expert who finds squirrel antics fascinating is Charles Hoessle, former St. Louis Zoo Director. Hoessle has been up close and personal with large, wild animals at the world-renowned zoo, but he has a real soft spot for – squirrels.

“We have two white squirrels, which are quite rare, living in the trees near my home,” said Hoessle. “I don’t know how they got here, but they do show up every so often and they do not seem to be bothered by all the gray squirrels.”

Hoessle has a hoard of photos of his neighborhood white squirrels that he has taken on his cell phone. This is quite an accomplishment, because white squirrels can be shy as they are very visible out in the open and vulnerable to predators.

The vulnerability of white squirrels has made them rare, but they are populous in one town in Illinois. Olney is the white squirrel capital of America and the town’s police will levy heavy fines if you harass or hit them, even accidentally, with your vehicle.

“I lure the white squirrels out in my yard by sprinkling some cracked corn around,” said Hoessle. “I can never tell when they will show up, but the corn seems to attract them.”

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Hellbender Conservationists Continue Saving An Endangered Spiecies

Hellbender at Saint Louis Zoo. Photo: Ray Meibaum, Saint Louis Zoo

Over 800 hellbenders from Saint Louis Zoo released into native Ozark rivers by Missouri Department of Conservation this summer

Over 800 Ozark and eastern hellbenders raised from eggs at the Saint Louis Zoo were released into their native Missouri Ozark rivers this summer by Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) State Herpetologist Jeff Briggler, Ph.D., in cooperation with the Zoo and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). Since 2008, 9,476 Saint Louis Zoo-raised endangered hellbenders (8,599 Ozark and 877 eastern) have been reintroduced to the wild in Missouri.

Even through the COVID-19 pandemic, the team of biologists from MDC and the Zoo have continued to collaborate while staying safe and providing the best care for the hellbenders. In 2020 and 2021, more than 1,800 hellbenders were successfully reintroduced.

“We have continued our COVID-19 safety precautions, such as reducing contact and maintaining social distancing, when transporting and releasing hellbenders into their native rivers. Release quotas for 2021 were achieved and successfully conducted, and now we prepare for upcoming collections of eggs from the wild and captive breeding to obtain future release animals,” said Jeff Briggler, Ph.D., Missouri Department of Conservation State Herpetologist.
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Missouri Prairie Foundation Bestows 2021 Awards

The 55-year-old prairie conservation organization and land trust honored champions of prairie and native plant conservation on August 20 during its virtual Annual Dinner. Awardees hail from Marshall, Columbia, Harwood, Springfield, Meadville, and Eminence, Missouri, as well as Hudson, Wisconsin.

The Missouri Prairie Foundation’s Annual Dinner, held virtually on August 20, 2021, is a celebration of Missouri’s prairie legacy. During the event, the 55-year-old prairie conservation organization and land trust paid tribute to seven awardees.

“Missouri’s remaining prairies are rare and priceless treasures,” said David Young, Missouri Prairie Foundation President. “Protecting and promoting them requires dedication and commitment from many people. Our award program recognizes individuals who have made or are making a positive difference in the conservation of Missouri’s prairie legacy and in the promotion or protection of native plants.”

The Missouri Prairie Foundation 2021 awardees are:

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Introducing the Forest Park Experience Vlog Series

Photo by Holly Shanks

Check out the new vlog from Forest Park Forever.

Forest Park Forever recently announced a new video series highlighting visitors of Forest Park. This new mini-series will feature a video each week. During the first episode, we encourage you to flow with yoga instructor Spenser Gaines, who says, “Forest Park has always played a role where I knew I could come and just feel centered.”

Other episodes in the series will include sketching, dancing, circuit training, fly fishing, birding and more!

Visit the Forest Park Forever YouTube page for more videos like the one below.

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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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