Category Archives: Outdoor/Nature

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Webster Groves Nature Study Society Marks 100 Years

Alfred Satterthwait working on his insect collection at his home 118 Waverly Ave., Webster Groves, ~1930. WGNSS Archives.

by Don Corrigan

The Webster Groves Nature Study Society (WGNSS) was set to mark an entire century of existence this April. A coronavirus pandemic has crushed all the organization’s “best laid plans” to celebrate its past, present and future.

“Our 100th Anniversary Banquet for May 12 is canceled. Our ‘Night to Remember’ on  April 1 is canceled. Our ceremony with the Mayor of Webster Groves on city hall’s front lawn for April 3 is canceled,” lamented Richard Thoma, the past president and first vice president of WGNSS.

“Obviously, the pandemic is hurting a lot more people and canceling more important things than what we are all about – but this hurts,” said Thoma. “It has also canceled three nature outings and set back the publication of our memorial book, “One Hundred Years of the Webster Groves Nature Study Society.”

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MDC Temporarily Waives Fishing Permits Starting March 27

Starting March 27, people may fish in Missouri without a permit through April 15.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Missouri Conservation Commission announce they are temporarily waiving permit requirements for sport fishing and daily trout tags for Missouri residents and nonresidents whose fishing privileges are not otherwise suspended.

The waiver of needing a permit or trout tag to fish will run from Friday, March 27, through April 15. MDC will reassess the situation at that point. All season dates and limits will continue to apply and be enforced. 

“The current public-health emergency caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) has many Missourians and others looking for safe ways to get outside in nature,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “Missouri’s rivers and streams offer high quality fishing as a way for people to connect with nature while still complying with all health and safety recommendations. Fishing is also a great way to get some much needed physical and mental health benefits during this stressful time.”

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MDC Closes Nature Centers and Visitor Centers

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) announced it will close its nature centers, visitor centers, and education centers around the state to visitors effective Thursday, March 19, to help protect the public amid ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns. The indoor facilities will be closed to the public through April 15 and MDC will reassess the situation at that point. Nature center trails remain open.

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Frogwatch USA Looking For Citizen Scientists

photo courtesy of Saint Louis FrogWatch Chapter

Saint Louis Zoo training sessions set for March 13, 19 and April 3.

Jump in and become a FrogWatch USA volunteer with the Saint Louis Zoo! St. Louis-area “citizen scientists” are needed to monitor frogs and toads from their backyards, parks, fields, creeks or just about anywhere. The information gathered can ultimately lead to practical and workable ways to stop amphibian decline.

 
You do not have to be a frog or toad expert to join FrogWatch. You won’t even need to see or touch these amazing amphibians to participate. All you need is an interest in frogs and toads and the time to attend a training session. You’ll be asked to make a commitment to monitor a site of your choosing for at least three minutes twice a week throughout the frogs’ breeding season, which ranges from about February to August.
 
“In just a couple of hours, we will train you to distinguish the croaks, peeps and various calls of the 10 most common frog and toad species around the St. Louis area,” says Michael Dawson, Conservation Education Liaison at the Zoo and coordinator of the St. Louis chapter of FrogWatch USA. “Breeding calls vary greatly and are often mistaken for birds or insects. Their volume ranges from a soft musical trill to a deafening chorus.”

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To Arms! For U.S. Gray Squirrels!

by Don Corrigan

Funky Winkerbean’s cartoon creator,  Tom Batiuk, is  on a roll about squirrels. Hundreds of readers sent me his comic strips on squirrels.  Actually, more than hundreds – enough people to fill up the  National Mall on Inauguration Day! 

Funky Winkerbean may be tickling people’s fancy with this comic squirrel subterfuge, but the actual truth about the American Gray Squirrel is no laughing matter. So, let’s get on it. 

Headlines in Britain now are all about the Royals’ big crisis and strife involving the Queen, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. It’s a hoax, folks. The headlines are a smokescreen. The stories should be about Prince Charles and his war against American Gray Squirrels. It’s a dirty little war. It has taken an ugly turn.
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Solving Climate Change With A Trillion Trees

Mark Grueber of the Missouri Department of Conservation surveys trees at the Powder Valley Nature Center, which serves as his work location for the MDC. Photo by Diana Linsley (WKT)

By Don Corrigan (Webster-Kirkwood Times)

With wildfires raging globally and 2019 being the second hottest year on record, even climate change skeptics are starting to look for answers. Could planting a trillion trees reduce carbon pollution and spur a needed cool down?

The trillion trees idea got a big boost last month at the World Economic Forum. Planting trees does present an easier solution than reducing fossil fuel use. Even President Donald Trump said the U.S. would sign onto a tree campaign.

Local tree and horticultural experts are pleased that some movement on the climate change issue seems to be in the works, but they argue that planting trees is no panacea for a problem that is taking a toll on Planet Earth.

“There are many facets to this discussion about trees and climate change, and most of them do have some merit,” said Jerald Pence, coordinator for the horticulture program at St. Louis Community College at Meramec in Kirkwood. His responsibilities include managing an 11-acre garden on the Meramec campus.

“I do think that it’s important to understand that there is rarely a ‘silver bullet’ solution that will fix a big problem so easily,” added Pence.  “I think it’s great that something is happening to at least begin a needed discussion.”

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Find Adventure With The MDC’s “MO Outdoors” App!

The sights and sounds of nature are distinct and unique during winter months, which makes now a great time to get outside and discover nature. Looking for places to enjoy outdoor activities in Missouri such as hiking, birdwatching, camping, shooting, fishing, and hiking? The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has an app for that.
With MDC’s free mobile app — MO Outdoors — users can quickly and easily find MDC outdoor offerings based on the types of outdoor activities they want close to home, work, or even while traveling. Learn more at missouriconservation.org/mooutdoors

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New Missouri State Parks Director Named

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources today named Mike Sutherland as director of its Division of State Parks.

Sutherland has served as acting division director since Nov. 15, when former Division Director Ben Ellis retired. Prior to that, Sutherland served as deputy division director since joining the department in June 2017.

Before joining the Department of Natural Resources, Sutherland served as policy director for a nonprofit organization focused on budget and tax policy. His additional previous experiences include serving as the executive director of the Boonslick Regional Planning Commission, a state representative and the Warren County assessor.

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Nature Experienced In The Classroom

Photo: Courtesy MDC

By Don Corrigan (South County Times)

It’s not exactly a dog-eat-dog world out there, but it certainly is competitive. Plants compete for sunlight. Songbirds compete for nesting sites. Predators compete for prey. And teachers compete to be the best educators they can be.

Recently, some highly-motivated teachers from across the St. Louis region convened on Powder Valley Nature Conservation Center to sharpen their skills and knowledge for teaching ecology.

The Discover Nature Schools Workshop was led by David Bruns, conservation education consultant with the Missouri Department of Conservation. Bruns encouraged teachers to get outside with their students and become familiar with the natural world.

“This is a fabulous opportunity to help teachers enable their students to experience authentic conservation practices first hand within a Missouri context,” explained Bruns, prior to the workshop on Jan. 6.

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The Rich Histories Of Our River Towns

Photo: Ursula Ruhl

By Don Corrigan (South County Times)

On wintry days with cold rain, ice and snow, most people of sound mind and body are warming by the gas fire and flat screen or doing yoga at the rec center. They are not thinking about their Meramec River heritage.

Sunset Hills and Fenton residents should think twice before turning their backs on the river. The muddy Meramec borders parts of each city and it’s a part of each city’s rich history.

To know a little bit about that history, it’s not at all necessary to scour library book shelves or to pound the right search words on a keyboard to find archival material on the World Wide Web. Actually, you can just put on your mukluks, a coat and ear muffs – and hit the trails on each side of the river.

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