Category Archives: Outdoor/Nature


Saint Louis Zoo Unveils Plans for the Henry A. Jubel Foundation Destination Discovery

Tasmanian devils and babydoll sheep are ambassadors for shrinking forest habitat and how human activity interacts with the sustainability of wild animal populations. The immersive Tasmanian devil exhibit, one of only three devil exhibits in the U.S., features a climb-through tree trunk with a wildlife underpass, allowing the devils to reach both sides of the habitat. This area offers guests a great opportunity to learn about wild animals living in communities with people. Artist renderings courtesy Saint Louis Zoo.

The new experience for children and families will have animal adventures at every turn. The target public opening is planned for 2026.

The Saint Louis Zoo recently shared plans for the new experience for children and families on site of the current Emerson Dinoroarus, formerly Emerson Children’s Zoo.

“Thanks to an incredibly generous $15 million lead gift from the Henry A. Jubel Foundation, we are able to carry forward the goal of the previous Children’s Zoo by providing dynamic experiences for children and families that will inspire a love of animals and learning, but in new and innovative ways,” said Dwight Scott, Dana Brown President & CEO, Saint Louis Zoo. “Destination Discovery will have animal adventures at every turn. You will be able to explore and play side by side with animals, building connections to the natural world.”

Development of the 2.8-acre Henry A. Jubel Foundation Destination Discovery is estimated to cost $40 million with funding coming from a variety of sources, including philanthropy. With a target public opening slated for 2026, construction will begin in 2024. The temporary exhibit Dinoroarus will close Nov. 5, 2023.
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Seed St. Louis Partners with One Tree Planted

Seed St. Louis (formerly Gateway Greening), has partnered with One Tree Planted to double the capacity of the Giving Grove program, allowing it to grow from the current 70-100 trees planted per year in the St. Louis region, to 200 trees in 2023.

“With this grant I’m excited to be able to build upon the orchards already in our network as well as add new orchards. These funds will help our Giving Grove program be more accessible to communities in the region by greatly reducing the costs for the trees.” Said Dean Gunderson, Director of Education, Seed St. Louis.

Pollution is a significant factor in St. Louis; the American Lung Association has ranked St. Louis one of the 25 most polluted cities in the U.S.

According to a study of EPA data released in 2020, St. Louis has the 12th worst ranking for air quality in the U.S., with an average Air Quality Index (AQI) of 54, a Max AQI of 182 and 206 days per year of unhealthy air quality.

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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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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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Time To Give A Hoot: When Owls Attack – These Birds Are Not Always Just Wise And Old

Pictured: Great Horned Owl. All photo courtesy the World Bird Sanctuary. By Stu Goz.

By Don Corrigan

Owls sport reputations for being wise and old. However, sensational internet stories and tabloid TV are portraying these feathered fellows as dangerous. Wise, old owls appear to be in attack mode.

A hiker in Alaska was recently dive bombed by a great-horned owl armed with sharp talons. Last year, attacks took place from Washington state to Georgia. Incidents in Texas prompted a “When Owls Attack” advisory.

“Owls can and do attack,” said Shelly Colatskie of Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center in Kirkwood. “If you get too close to their nests, especially when they have young, they will swoop down on you.

“An owl coming at you with their talons can be scary,” added Colatskie. “But the truth is we have not had calls here about problem owls. We get more calls about problem skunks and deer, and bats for sure.”

In Midland, Texas, humans were advised to wear protective gear when passing by nesting adult owls and their owlets. Leather jackets and baseball helmets were suggested as items for owl-proofing.

Do Webster-Kirkwood residents need to owl-proof? After all, owl nests have been spotted in forested stretches at Emmenegger, Blackburn, Powder Valley and other park areas.

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Powder Valley Nature Center Presents An Evening with Raptors Friday, Jan. 27

Meagan Duffee-Yeates trains her Merlin to hunt for blackbird during a winter months in Missouri.

Bird buffs, falcon fanciers, and anyone enraptured by raptors is invited to meet the objects of their admiration during this year’s An Evening with Raptors event—and explore a collaboration between humans and animals first forged thousands of years ago.

The annual An Evening with Raptors hosted by the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center will be held on Friday, Jan. 27 from 7-9 p.m.  The event is free and is open to all ages.

Falconry is the ultimate partnership between human and bird.  The sport goes back thousands of years, and you can learn about it at An Evening with Raptors event.  “Several area falconers will gather to offer the rare chance to observe and learn about these fascinating feathered hunters,” said MDC Assistant Nature Center Manager, Robyn Parker.  “They will also explain how viewers can get started in this age-old sport themselves,” she added.

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Top 10 Nutty Christmas Squirrels!

Pictured: Don Corrigan with his book “Nuts About Squirrels”

This topic never gets old! Squirrels!

Enjoy this re-posted Christmas squirrel special! (from 2020)

That holiday favorite about “acorns roasting on an open fire” brings to mind Top 10 Christmas Squirrels & why we love them!

By Don Corrigan

It’s impossible to enjoy the outdoors anywhere in North America without a squirrel scolding you from a tree limb, or a squirrel scampering across your path, or a squirrel playing “chicken” with you on the roadway when you’re driving. Squirrels are not just confined to the outdoors. They are in all the mass media that we consume and enjoy in the indoors. With that in mind, Environmental Echo offers a Top Ten of mass-mediated squirrels that we encounter in print and on our electronic devices. We humans must love them. We have made them the top virtual critters in our popular culture.

1.)  Christmas Vacation Squirrel

Remember Chevy Chase’s movie when Aunt Bethany asks: “What’s that sound? You hear it? It’s a funny squeaky sound.” Uncle Lewis then responds: “You couldn’t hear a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant.” The squeak was worse than a noisy dump truck. It was from the Christmas Vacation Squirrel. The production originally had a trained squirrel ready to wreak havoc on the Griswold holiday home, but it died the day before the scene was to be shot. An untrained squirrel was brought in to be chased by Uncle Eddy’s dog, Snot, which caused unanticipated mayhem. Today several online sites sell a “Christmas Vacation Attacking Squirrel” with motion sensor and sound!

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Missouri Department of Conservation Forester Says Live Christmas Trees Offer Gifts Both During and After the Holidays

Domien and Eileen Meert at their Christmas tree farm near Festus, Mo. Domien holds the first tree dibble he ever used when he started his tree farm.

A living Christmas tree can be wonderful holiday gift for your home.  It’s also the perfect gift for nature long after the holidays are over, according to Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Community Forester, Mark Grueber.

Living Christmas trees bring a feel to the holidays that no artificial tree can duplicate.  The natural scent of fir or pine can set the Christmas mood as sure as colorful lights or a favorite Christmas carol.  Live trees are also a renewable resource, unlike artificial ones which are made of non-recyclable metal and petroleum-based products.

For those still in the market for a Christmas tree, now is still a good time to pick one up.  Buyers have two choices.  The first is selecting a cut tree, available in many locally owned tree lots in the area.

Grueber offered advice on checking the freshness of a cut tree.  “You want to make sure the needles are fairly tight.  The best thing is to just take it and bang it up and down on a nice, solid piece of ground and check to see how many needles are coming off,” he said.  “And you can kind of tell by touch.  Brush your hand along some of the needles, and if quite a few are dropping off, that’s probably a tree you want to avoid.”

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Squirrels May Save The Planet

Squirrels are pop culture icons, and the furry critters may actually save the planet.
That’s what author Don Corrigan told the ACORN Newspapers group of California when he was recently interviewed about his book, “Nuts About Squirrels.”

Environmental Echo is happy to share the ACORN squirrel article here.

Note Corrigan’s ACORN quote: “As we realize how much methane livestock is putting into the atmosphere, we will give up our hamburgers and Texas Roadhouse steaks,” he said. “We will be eating the new Chicken of the Trees—squirrels.

“The blessed squirrels are much easier to produce naturally, and Sammy the Squirrel does not fart methane near as much as Bessy the Cow!”

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