Category Archives: Outdoor/Nature


Want Interesting Facts About The Saint Louis Zoo? Check Out Their Blog!

Photo: Saint Louis Zoo

St. Louisans love Forest Park and their Zoo! One of the zillion amazing things about our world-class Saint Louis Zoo is the fact that admission is still FREE!  This allows everyone, from every background and walk in life, to enjoy the zoo and its many learning opportunities.

The editors at Environmental Echo have had the pleasure of meeting several of the zoo’s staff members over the years. And one thing always stands out – the talented and knowledgeable people working at the zoo love what they do and love to share what they know about the animals they love, the zoo’s outstanding operations and facilities, the serious environmental challenges we face and their continuous conservation efforts.

One way to stay informed on what’s happening at the Saint Louis Zoo is by reading their online blog. Did you know the zoo had a blog?

Well, they do, and it’s a variety of interesting topics filled with insights. Did you know that some of the zoo’s catering menu has food items grown right in their own culinary garden?

How about the partnership with Ameren to help feed the animals and create mulch from tree limbs that are trimmed and removed to help prevent storm damage?

Oh, and, if you happen to browse the gift shop and take home a soapstone statuette handmade in the village of Tabaka in Kenya, the purchase helps support the village’s people and their local conservation efforts.

And, of course, news and information about the animals, along with many more interesting tidbits directly from the staff members who work at the zoo.


A Comprehensive Look At The Valley Park Levee And Local Historic Flooding Issues

The Valley Park levee has been a tense and bitter debate since historic flooding hit the area twice in 18 months during 2015 and 2017. With any major forecasted rain or storm event, the threat of flooding is always on the minds of local residents.

This weekend, heavy rain is predicted as the last of tropical storm Gordon pushes its way into the Midwest.  (September 2018)

Environmental Echo has posted several stories and updates about the local flooding situations related to the Valley Park levee issue in the past and we wanted to share a comprehensive piece of investigative journalism we ran across from ProPublica.

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“JUST DO IT!” Is The Motto Of Fearless Kayaker Who Plans To Spend 71st Birthday On Sepik River In Papua New Guinea

Kathy Pszonka’s next exotic water tour will be on her 71st birthday — a trip on the Sepik River in New Guinea. All photos Webster-Kirkwood Times.

Kayak Crazy Kathy Pszonka plans to spend her 71st birthday this September on the waters of the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea. She will be lodging in grass huts on her trip, so candles on her cake will remain unlit.

None of Pszonka’s friends in the St. Louis Canoe and Kayak Club are at all surprised by Pszonka’s plans to float on a wily river a half world away. They know this Fenton septuagenarian’s motto is: “Just Do It!”

When it comes to getting in the water in a kayak, Pszonka has been “just doing it” for just about a score of years. She took her first kayak lesson at age 52 and fell in love with paddling low-to-the-water in these increasingly popular, eco-friendly, canoe-like boats.

Read more about Pszonka below.

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Keep Local Geese Healthy – Don’t Feed Them

Photo by MDC Staff, courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation.

Canadian geese are a common sight around the St. Louis area. Many people enjoy watching and feeding them. Recent information released from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) says feeding the geese may be harming their health.

“We see it in more urban areas where the geese are fed bread or cereal by well-intentioned people,” said Nicole Walker, an MDC wildlife management biologist. “Unfortunately, bread doesn’t have the nutrients geese need, so they may develop drooping wings and can even lose their ability to fly.”

Read the full information release from the MDC below.

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The MDC’s Project To Revitalize and Enhance O’Fallon Park

Photo by MDC Staff, courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recently released information about efforts to bring changes to St. Louis City’s O’Fallon Park.

The MDC entered a partnership to restore natural habitat to O’Fallon Park through MDC’s Back to Nature St. Louis Grant.  This grant provides funding for habitat restoration and/or reconstruction on a public park property in St. Louis County or City through a competitive application process.

The result of the agreement is the Back to Nature in O’Fallon Park project.  The goal of the project is to revitalize and enhance the park to improve the visitor’s aesthetic experience, facilitate nature enjoyment, and enhance nature programming opportunities.

Read more details about the program from the MDC below.

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Celebrate National Prairie Day June 2

In 2016, the Missouri Prairie Foundation established National Prairie Day—registered on the National Day Calendar as the first Saturday in June—to enhance public awareness of what prairie is, educate about its value, and motivate all who learn about prairie to be inspired to support prairie conservation, restoration, and enjoyment. This year, National Prairie Day is Saturday, June 2, 2018.

“All are invited to join us in celebration of National Prairie Day,” said Carol Davit, executive director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation, a 52-year-old non-profit prairie conservation organization and land trust. “National Prairie Day provides a day of focus across the United States to inspire learning, appreciation, exploration of our national prairie legacy, and success of national, regional, statewide, and local prairie conservation efforts from coast to coast.”

The Missouri Prairie Foundation will celebrate National Prairie Day by hosting its 9th annual Prairie BioBlitz at its Pleasant Run Creek Prairie near Nevada, MO on June 2 and 3—free of charge and open to all—with biologist leaders, a potluck dinner, after-dinner speaker Chris Crabtree on Native American history in Missouri, star-gazing with astronomers, and tent camping on the prairie. For details and to register for 9th Annual Prairie BioBlitz, and many other upcoming Missouri Prairie Foundation events, visit

Find more about why maintaining prairie is important below.

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Are Weeds Edible? Catrina Adams Says, Yes!

Pictured: Catrina Adams. Photo by Diana Linsley.

Catrina Adams, who teaches a class in the Master Naturalist Program on the Meramec campus of St. Louis Community College in Kirkwood, has a timely message for you: “It’s OK to eat the weeds!”

In fact, that’s the actual name for her college continuing education class: “It’s OK to Eat the Weeds: Wild Edible Plants of Spring.” This past Saturday (5/4/18), she was hunting for weeds on campus with a dozen students who enrolled in the course.

“Plants I focus on in my Meramec class this time of year are the ones that people are pulling out of their yards and out of the garden,” said Adams.

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Public Voices Both Concern and Support For New Trail Extension Planned For I-44 Bridge

Photo by Diana Linsley/Webster-Kirkwood Times.

Hikers, bikers and joggers are gaga over the prospect of traveling over the Meramec River on a trail extension using a rebuilt Interstate 44 bridge complex. Bridge construction could begin later this year with a 2021 completion date.

“We’re looking at this as a once-in-a-50-year opportunity – to be able to use a new, major river bridge like this,” said Seth Treptow, communications manager for Great Rivers Greenway.
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Missouri Department of Conservation Donates Archery Equipment To Help Local School Kids and Encourage Police-Community Relations

Photo by MDC Staff, courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation.

The St. Louis County Police Athletic League (PAL) is embracing the benefits of archery, which has been shown to improve school attendance, boost self-esteem, and increase physical activity.  They will soon begin teaching a competitive target archery program to St. Louis County kids, with the help of a donation from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation.

MDC presented a kit of archery equipment used to teach the Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program (MoNASP) to the St. Louis County PAL April 13 at Hazelwood Middle School in Spanish Lake.

According to the St. Louis County PAL website, the program is volunteer-based with the goal of enabling members of the police department to coach young boys and girls in sports, help with homework and other school-related activities. The purpose is to build character, help strengthen police-community relations, and deter children from becoming involved in criminal activity.  The PAL also strives for youth enrichment with educational and youth leadership programs outside of sports.  The program has plans for members to train in and begin teaching MDC’s Discover Nature Fishing program in the future as well.

Read more from the MDC information release below.

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Local Citizens Organize To “Save Sugar Creek”

photo by Ursula Ruhl/Webster-Kirkwood Times.

Sugar Creek Valley in Kirkwood has been called a wildflower haven, painters’ paradise and architects’ alley. The verdant drive that descends on West Adams Avenue, past Ballas Road, is dotted with homes of distinguished architecture on large wooded lots.

Many admirers would love to reside there, and if area developers had their way, many more homes would find a place on the lovely sloping hillsides. Homeowners who now reside in Sugar Creek naturally are protective – and wary of residential encroachment.

A proposal to rezone a 1.98 acre lot on 1837 Bach Ave. to allow more homes has neighbors getting organized. They have formed “Save Sugar Creek” and already have shown up in numbers at a planning and zoning subcommittee meeting in Kirkwood.

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