St. Louis Area Sites Added to Native Gardens of Excellence Program

Main Street Garden by Main Street Garden volunteer

Two sites in Greater St. Louis have been added to the Grow Native! Native Gardens of Excellence program, which features native landscaping styles in the lower Midwest

The Grow Native! Native Gardens of Excellence program has added two sites in the St. Louis area. Along with three other new sites in Kansas and Arkansas, these join the 15 sites in Missouri and Illinois that were inducted into the program when it launched in 2021.


Main Street Garden, 524 South Main Street, St. Charles, was previously a vacant lot and is now an alluring oasis consisting almost entirely of native plants with a rain garden. Located in the historic district, an arbor at the entrance entices visitors, and there are benches for seating throughout. South Grand Business District native gardens, 3012-3310 South Grand Boulevard, St. Louis, includes plantings along 6.5 city blocks between Arsenal and Utah Street. Located in a busy and dense metropolitan area, the site demonstrates how native plants can be utilized effectively in an urban environment, helping to filter pollutants and capture stormwater while also providing habitat for wildlife.

“The Grow Native! Native Gardens of Excellence program features plantings of native plants in designed, well-maintained gardens and in other native landscape plantings in the lower Midwest,” said Carol Davit, executive director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation and its Grow Native! program. “We are pleased to showcase these outstanding native gardens to inspire greater use of native plants, which provide many benefits to wildlife and people.”

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Coloring Book’s “Smart Bird” Gives Kids Road Safety Tips

Just in time for the holidays, Terry the Turkey Vulture swoops down to give children smart tips on keeping safe around roadways. Terry’s advice also applies to children’s pets, who do need a little “coloring” in the book.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in every five children under the age of 15 killed in traffic crashes was a pedestrian. Kids are at risk of crash injuries, even when they are not inside a vehicle. Adults can help protect their young ones with tips about road safety.

Terry says: “Let’s All Be Safe on Roadways.” The coloring book’s message is that motorists must drive defensively and walkers must walk defensively. When you’re at a marked crosswalk, don’t assume that oncoming drivers will stop.

In 2022, St. Louis was shocked when residents were killed trying to cross Chippewa Street to get to a popular city custard stand. Pedestrian deaths are a concern for everyone. St. Louis suburbs also have lost residents to crosswalk accidents and curbside collisions.

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Celebrate Peanut the Turtle’s 38th Birthday Party At Powder Valley Nature Center Nov. 19

Peanut the Turtle swims in a pond at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center.

Peanut the Turtle is turning 38, and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is throwing her a birthday celebration.  The birthday partying takes place at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center Saturday, Nov. 19 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.  It’s a free event and open to all ages.

Peanut the Turtle has attracted attention all over Missouri, along with national and worldwide fame, as an anti-littering mascot.  At a young age, the red-eared slider wandered into a discarded plastic six-pack ring, and it stuck around her shell.  As her shell grew, it was constricted by the plastic ring and developed an unusual, figure-eight shape.  In 1993, when she was about nine years old, she was found in the St. Louis area and brought to the Saint Louis Zoo, where the ring was removed.

They named her Peanut because of her shell’s shape and gave her to staff at MDC. Peanut has been under the care of MDC since, where she has served as a popular ambassador for litter awareness.  Peanut’s permanent home is now at the nature center.

In the spirit of Peanut’s message, participants can help with litter pickups in and around Powder Valley during her birthday celebration event.  “We’ll provide MoDOT NoMOre trash bags for participants, and for each bag of trash they collect, they can enter a raffle to win prizes,” said MDC Naturalist Shelly Colatskie.  She added that participants can also qualify for the raffle by sending photos of themselves picking up litter at other places in the area.

The nature center will also serve birthday cake in honor of Peanut’s big day.  Educational programs will help make visitors aware of the environmental challenges that plastics pose and inform them about ways they can help prevent Peanut’s fate from happening to other wildlife.  Activities will also include information on Missouri Stream Teams, crafts, a chance to see live animals, and meet and greet Peanut herself.

Peanut’s 38th Birthday Celebration is free, but MDC asks visitors to preregister online at

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Equine Ecstasy: Kirkwood’s Tom Noonan Finds “Wild Horses of Missouri”

by Don Corrigan

Sometimes they’re called “feral.” Sometimes they’re called “wild.” Tom Noonan likes them because they’re “free.” Tom Noonan recently took a trip to Ozark country in search of some equine ecstasy and he found it.

The former Kirkwood Councilman captured the horses on film and video near Echo Bluff State Park. Normally, the small herds of horses that run free are miles to the south deep in the Ozarks around the Jacks Fork River watershed near Eminence.

“I was so surprised that I could drive less than two hours from Kirkwood and find these amazing animals roaming freely – no fences, no tags, no nothin,’” said Noonan. “They seem to have no boundaries.

“People fly thousands of miles to see something like this,” added Noonan. “They go to Chincoteague, Virginia to see the horses from tourist boats. Or, to the Southwest to watch them from helicopters. We get to see them just a short drive to Echo Bluff State Park area.”

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Wildlife Man Of Costa Rica: St. Louis Man Writes Guides To Frogs & Reptiles of Central America

Photos provided by David Norman.

by Don Corrigan

David Norman is a friend to frogs and reptiles of Central America. A Webster Groves 1972 high school grad, he recently took time out from field work in Costa Rica to visit with friends from a half century ago at his reunion.

“Some of my Webster buddies have been down to see me, so I don’t feel too far away,” said Norman. “Cory Gardiner and his wife have come down. So has Bill Clark and his wife. There is a lot to see in Costa Rica.

“I always take visitors to an active volcano, and a cloud forest, and a much wetter rainforest, and the beaches and national parks,” said Norman. “My regular work is as a tour guide and teacher for colleges offering study abroad credits.”

Norman always is happy to introduce the frogs and reptiles of Costa Rica to American visitors. After all, he wrote the books on these creatures, including “Common Amphibians of Costa Rica” and a field guide to similar animals in the Santa Rosa and Palos Verde national parks.

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“Tiger Connector” Planned: Kirkwood Electric Gets A Bit Of Good News On Energy Front

by Don Corrigan

This Halloween season, energy consumers are getting frightening news about proposed price hikes for electric, natural gas, heating oil and more. Kirkwood Electric recently informed customers of an increase per kilowatt hour for their electricity.

Kirkwood Electric Director Mark Petty said he does see light at the end of the tunnel – some cheaper, greener energy is in Kirkwood’s future. He said this is because Kirkwood belongs to a city consortium supporting the Grain Belt Express, which has scored some recent successes.

The Grain Belt Express is a transmission line designed to bring in power from wind turbines in southwest  Kansas. The project developer is Chicago-based Invenergy, which has now navigated objections to the line from rural legislators and groups like the Missouri Farm Bureau.

Invenergy recently announced that its energy delivery, via Missouri electric towers, will increase five-fold from 500 to 2,500 megawatts. The plan also now adds an extra 40-mile line, to be called the “Tiger Connector,” to enter the electrical grid tying in at Callaway County.

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Amazing Event: Webster Groves Nature/Zoo Champions Honored At Luncheon

Earlier this fall, a “Dine & Discuss Luncheon” at Cyranos Restaurant in St. Louis took up the subject of nature and outdoors champions covered in author Don Corrigan’s book, Amazing Webster Groves.

The book covers such Webster notables as Jack Lorenz of the Izaak Walton League and celebrated outdoor photographer Joseph Sohm.

At the luncheon, St. Louis Zoo Director Emeritus Charlie Hoessle talked about the contributions to world zoos by George Schaller and William Conway, both WGHS graduates. Rich Thoma talked about the legacy of the Webster Groves Nature Study Society.

For a full rundown on the discussion, check out the coverage of the luncheon in the Webster University Journal. Click on the link below:


‘Dine & Discuss’ at Cyrano’s Cafe shines light on Webster Groves


An Introduction To Nature’s Musician Kevin Renick

Kevin Renick is a music teacher, songwriter, nature lover, and it all comes together in his performance work. He credits his interest in birding walks for many of his music successes.
“Wandering around in remote woodlands, vast fields, marshlands and river edges looking for birds gave me a very early appreciation for the diversity of the natural world and the notion of landscapes,” said Renick. “My interest as a youngster shaped my aesthetic in profound ways.
“When I turned 12, my interest in birds became so intense that my mom started looking for an organization I could join. She found the Webster Groves Nature Study Society,” said Renick. “I was the youngest kid to participate and I started going on their regular birding trips, an activity that changed the way I viewed the world, nature as a whole, and yes, music.
Renick said he loves walking in the woods and his birding expeditions. All of this gets sprinkled into his music, and it inspired his most famous song, “Up In The Air,” which was used for the 2009 George Clooney movie by the same name.  It spells out a key influence for him:
“I’m out in the woods
Something here does my heart so good
I breathe the air and I know that I’m alive
And I stare at all the birds as they fly by
I guess it all comes down to them
Cause they’re up in the air.”
To Learn More About Kevin Renick, check out this story that appeared recently in the Webster-Kirkwood Times:
Fulfilling Their Dream
Songwriters at Meramec Produce Their Greatest Hits Album
by Don Corrigan
Okay. So what if it hasn’t taken off like the “Eagles’ Greatest Hits” – a group of Meramec students are still flying high with their CD entitled, “Time To Write A Song.” It’s billed as a music album about love, death, bad drivers and existential issues.
The CD is the brainchild of Kevin Renick. His continuing education class at St. Louis Community College at Meramec in Kirkwood is titled: “Songwriting: The Art and Discipline.” Students learn that songwriting is an art, but it only happens with a little discipline.
“I start by telling my classes that to write songs you have to have something to say,” declared Renick. “Tell us lyrically and musically, why we should care. Don’t tell us you just found a new girlfriend.

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Invasive Carp Removal Project for Lower Grand River – Completed

Photo: MDC

Almost 25,000 pounds of carp removed for both management and research.

A successful invasive carp removal project on the lower Grand River by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) provides hope for future similar projects. MDC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) used nets and electrofishing Sept. 12-16 to remove almost 25,000 pounds of non-native carp from the lower eight miles of the river. The project improved the river habitat for native fish and provided information for how commercial operations might be used in the future to reduce invasive carp. A commercial fishing business will market the fish caught during this operation.

“We were able to run very smooth and efficiently,” said Kasey Whitman, MDC Missouri River and Biometrics Unit supervisor. “The weather and the river cooperated.”

Invasive carp reproduce prolifically and grow quickly, taking up space in the water and reducing the food base for native fish, including sport fish. Fish removal projects cannot eliminate them from the rivers. But if commercial fishing operations can profitably remove carp, then that is one way the numbers of invasive fish can be reduced, and conditions improved for native fish. Commercial fishing is allowed in the Missouri River, Mississippi River, and St. Francis River.  However, under special permits it can be allowed in non-commercial waters.  The commercial fishing operator plans to process the Grand River carp caught to sell as catfish, crayfish, and lobster bait. Continue reading


Fall Color Tram Tour of the Katy Trail, Oct. 19-20, 2022

Experience the dramatic scenery and fall colors along the Missouri River bluffs during the Fall Colors Tram Tours on Wednesday, Oct. 19 and Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022.

The two-hour, round-trip tours will take visitors on the Katy Trail between Rocheport and McBaine in the comfort of an open-air tram coach. This 9-mile section of the trail is known for its fall colors along the bluffs and striking views of the Missouri River. As riders enjoy the scenery, interpretive guides will explain the natural history and cultural features along the trail. The tours are free and open to the public, with a suggested donation of $5 for adults and $3 for children age 12 and under.

Tours will depart from Rocheport at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on both days. Advance registration is required. To register, please call the Katy Trail State Park office at 573-449-7422 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or register online HERE.

Each tour consists of six trams, with each tram providing seating for 20 people. In the event of inclement weather, the tours will be canceled.

The tours are cosponsored by Missouri State Parks and Boone Electric Cooperative.