Blog Archives


“A Sewer Runs Through It: A History of the River des Peres” Film and Discussion, March 22

In the 1920s, wide sloping plains by the River des Peres absorbed flood
water, resulting in minimal damage. What changed to make the floods
of July 26 & 29, 2022 so destructive?

The event is NO COST but you need an EVENTBRITE ticket. Get tickets by clicking HERE.


Environmentalists Defend Initiatives: State Legislators At Odds With ‘Will Of The People’

By Don Corrigan

Environmentalists are among those opposed to actions by the Missouri legislature to cripple the initiative process in the state. They say the initiative process is often the only way to get environmental protections enacted in Missouri.

In the past, environmental groups have used the process on issues such as renewable energy and the financing of nuclear power facilities. In Missouri, these groups have included the Missouri Coalition for the Environment and the Sierra Club.

The initiative process has been dubbed as a “will of the people” mechanism. That’s because measures are approved by a statewide majority of voters, rather than passed by lawmakers in the statehouse where they can be beholden to special interests..

In this year’s session in Jefferson City, lawmakers have seemed determined to codify their disdain for the grassroots democracy of initiatives placed on the ballot by petition.

Legislators have introduced a slew of proposals to effectively nullify state voters’ use of the initiative petition process. They are intent on erecting hurdles that make it virtually impossible for residents to put proposals on the state ballot.

In January, despite overwhelming opposition – 96 percent of committee testimony opposed one such nullification bill – the Missouri House proceeded anyway to rush out approval of a bill to undermine the initiative petition process.

The Missouri House Committee on Elections and Elected Officials heard five bills on Jan. 24, and voted four of the attacks on the petition process out for consideration. The action was taken even as testimony opposing the bills ran five-to-one against the supportive comments.

In February, unhappy constituents lined up in a capitol hearing, one after another, to describe the state initiative petition process as “direct, pure democracy” that should not be thrown in the trash bin of Missouri statehouse history.

Media Voice Concerns

Missouri’s media outlets also have come out swinging against the legislature’s insistence on quashing the ballot initiative process. They note that voters have used the initiative process for Medicaid expansion, medical marijuana, a minimum wage hike, collective bargaining protections and use of renewable energy.

“The argument for tightening the initiative petition process is based on the mistaken assumption that it is too easy now to get a measure passed. It isn’t,” declared the Joplin Globe on Jan. 22. “Most measures that are attempted don’t succeed.

“Medicaid expansion is a good example of why we need this,” the Globe continued. “It was evident for a long time that Missourians favored this, yet it got nowhere in Jefferson City, so voters took the matter into their hands, putting the amendment on the ballot, and then approving it 53% to 47%, bypassing lawmakers altogether.”

Both the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Kansas City Star have published strongly worded opinion pieces against the legislature’s moves to sabotage citizen ballot initiatives. Many papers around the state, including the Columbia Missourian and Columbia Tribune, ran op-eds opposing the attacks on the voters’ will.

The on-line Kansas City Beacon stressed how many important issues only saw the light of day precisely because citizens got out and worked to get signed petitions necessary to get measures on the ballot. The Beacon noted that in recent years, lawmakers have altered or jettisoned laws and constitutional changes approved by voters.

In 2010, Missourians approved a ballot measure to enact tighter restrictions on puppy mills. In the spring session following that vote, the animal protections were repealed or watered down by the state legislature.

A similar reversal came in 2020 after Missourians passed Clean Missouri, a far-reaching ethics ballot measure, which was opposed by state politicians. It was later repealed after the legislature took steps to insure a reversal.

The Kansas City Beacon noted that Missouri does not need to make it even harder for the citizens to express their will at the ballot box. Rather, Missouri needs to pass a bill to guard the people’s will after it is articulated and affirmed by state voters. The reversals need to stop.

In its Dec. 13, 2022 piece, the Beacon cited a bill introduced by Rep. Joe Adams of St. Louis to guard against reversal of the people’s will. Under Adams’ bill, no measure approved by voters could be amended, watered down or repealed by state legislators.

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Registration Is Open for 2023 Callery Pear “Buyback”

Photo: MDC, David Stonner.

The Missouri Invasive Plant Council (MoIP), in partnership with Forest ReLeaf of Missouri, Forrest Keeling Nursery, and the Missouri Department of Conservation, will host a Callery pear “buyback” program in locations around the state on April 18.

Registration is open March 15 – April 13 for participants to choose their location, register with EventBrite, select a native tree, and upload a photo of the cut-down Callery pear tree. One free, non-invasive, native tree is provided to registered participants at the selected location on the day of the event, April 18, from 3–6 p.m. (Note: Kansas City has different dates and times.)

Invasive Tree Causes Ecological Concern: Native to China, Callery pear trees (Pyrus calleryana) include 26 cultivars that present significant ecological concerns in Missouri. Some of the most common cultivars offered commercially include Aristocrat, Autumn Blaze, Bradford, Capital, Cleveland, Chanticleer, Red-spire, and Whitehouse.

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Pallottine Officially Opens Low Ropes Challenge Course

Information from the Pallottine Renewal Center about a new learning opportunity in the local St. Louis area.

A multi-year dream finally becomes a reality this month as the Low Ropes Challenge Course opens at the Pallottine Renewal Center in Florissant. PRC Executive Director Marillyn Baner and team have worked to bring this vision to life over the past several years, made even more critical by the 2020 Covid Shutdown and people’s inability to get together publicly. With those fears and restrictions now behind us, it is the perfect time to open the course to the public.

“I am beyond thrilled that we are finally able to provide this amazing experiential learning opportunity to the communities in and around North County and St. Louis,” Baner said. “Starting this month, we are taking reservations for groups of all shapes and sizes, from 10 to 100. Call us to schedule a tour and see everything Pallottine has to offer from ropes to retreats.”

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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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Environment At Fault? Hey, Valentine, Statistics Show Loss Of Courting, Romance

Happy Valentine’s Day!

By Don Corrigan

Do couples go courting anymore? Is dating an obsolete art? Is real romance dead on arrival? Do we now just “Do It In The Road,” if at all, as Beatle John Lennon used to sing?

Some alarming national statistics show that fewer Americans are courting, dating and marrying. Romancing is just something that old people talk about when recalling their favorite “make-out sites” or their necking at drive-in movies.

Census data shows extremely low marriage rates among millennials and Gen Z-ers ­– only 29 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds were married in 2018, compared to 59 percent of young people of comparable age in 1978.

Dour statistics on courting and marriage have beget screaming headlines about the “marriage crisis,” “rudderless young men” and “the end of marriage” in national magazines.

Liberals blame the demise of love on social media and Tinder. Young people use Apps to hook up for one-night stands with no end-game. They are looking for love in all the wrong places. Actually, they aren’t looking for love at all.

Conservatives blame a liberal culture that promotes same-sex relationships rather than traditional marriage; and, a culture that conditions young men to avoid responsibility and steady jobs that could support marriage and family.

Conservative U.S. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri says young men are taught in school that the male gender is toxic, so they are demoralized. Hawley has vowed to address the situation with a new book, slated to come out in May, to be titled, “Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America Needs.”

In fact, the decline in courting, dating and marriage may not have much to do with politics at all, so hold off on the blame games and political finger-pointing. Some experts advise looking at science for an explanation.

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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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MDC Announces Opening of Howard Wood Urban Outreach Office in the City of St. Louis

The new Howard Wood Urban Outreach office will be available for walk-in service and connect urban residents directly with conservation resources.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has opened a public outreach office in the City of St. Louis.  The MDC Howard Wood Urban Outreach Office at 4640 Shenandoah Ave, St. Louis MO 63110, just east of the Vandeventer Ave./South Kingshighway Blvd. intersection, is now open to the public. The office can be reached by phone at: 314-301-1504. The new facility is in the Brightside-St. Louis Building.

“The Howard Wood Urban Outreach Office is a collaboration space that will serve as a central hub for MDC staff with expertise in urban wildlife, fish, forestry, and conservation education. We want to provide opportunities for urban residents to enjoy and conserve nature close to where they live, including access to new communities who may not have a lot of conservation exposure or a connection to nature,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley.

The new MDC Howard Wood Urban Outreach Office will provide a staffed facility and walk-in service for the public, along with conservation-related information and free publications.  The office will also offer hunting and fishing permits for sale, as well as MDC Natural Events Calendars.  It will not carry other MDC Nature Shop items.

The new facility will be open to the public ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Thursday 4 p.m.-6 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m.-2 p.m., and closed Sunday and Monday.

“We are very excited to be returning to the City of St. Louis after eight years.  The new office will make it easier to bring urban community conservation best practices, resources, and information to City and inner-ring St. Louis County residents, schools, and partner organizations,” said Julianne Stone, MDC St. Louis Regional Administrator.

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Environmentalists Blast Sand Mining Plan In Ste. Genevieve Area

By Don Corrigan
Not since the Holcim Cement Kiln proposal in 2006 have environmentalists in Eastern Missouri been as concerned about a proposal for industrial land use in St. Genevieve.  At issue now: A NexGen Silica mining plan.
On March 4, 2022, Nexgen Silica submitted to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Land Reclamation Program, an application for a permit for a sandstone mine in Ste. Genevieve County along Highway 32 for 249 acres.

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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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