by Don Corrigan
Building admittance is currently limited to the front desk, but trails and grounds remain fully accessible to the public.
The Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center is now open for limited public access, following a COVID-19-related closure. The building’s operating hours will be Tuesday through Saturday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., until further notice.
Powder Valley’s front desk is available to the public for information or gift shop and permit sales. Due to ongoing public health and safety concerns, the rest of the building, including the exhibit galleries and classrooms, are currently not accessible. To help minimize person-to-person contact, one person or family will be allowed into the building at a time.
The nature center’s outdoor spaces, including all trails, remain open and fully accessible to the public.
Over 1,000 hellbenders from Saint Louis Zoo released into native Ozark rivers by Missouri Department of Conservation this summer
Over 1,000 Ozark and eastern hellbenders raised from eggs at the Saint Louis Zoo were released into their native Missouri Ozark rivers this summer by Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) State Herpetologist Jeff Briggler, Ph.D., in cooperation with the Zoo and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). Since 2008, more than 8,600 Saint Louis Zoo-raised endangered hellbenders (664 eastern and 7,977 Ozark) have been reintroduced to the wild in Missouri.
The successful 2020 reintroductions almost didn’t happen, though, due to COVID-19. The team of scientists from MDC and the Zoo collaborated on a detailed plan that focused on personal safety of team members, while also providing the best care for the hellbenders and conservation of this species.
“The process was quite a bit different this year, with a lot of careful coordination on everyone’s part,” said Briggler. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the restoration team’s priority was to reduce contact and maintain social distancing among individuals. To achieve this, animal transfers from the Zoo staff to the state herpetologist occurred in open air parking lots. Crews releasing hellbenders also were reduced and limited to two individuals per boat. “Even with these safety precautions, release quotas of hellbenders were achieved and successfully conducted,” said Briggler.
Women have always been in the forefront of the fight to protect the outdoors and the environment in St. Louis and nationally. That was part of the message that Environmental Echo Editor Don Corrigan emphasized in a prepared statement for his induction into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame on Oct. 3.
LEARN HOW TO EAT WELL OUTDOORS AT MDC VIRTUAL COOKING FOR CAMPING AND HIKING CLASS SEPT. 30
Having food when venturing outdoors might be essential for survival. Having good food is certainly essential for fun. What’s the best way to prepare food when away from the comforts and conveniences of a modern kitchen? What will you need to bring? The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is offering an online class that can help take the mystery out of making great meals in the wild.
Outdoor Cooking for Camping and Hiking is a free virtual class which will be held Wednesday, Sept. 30, from 6-6:45 p.m. The class will include an interactive Q&A session via online chat. (Online registration is required.)
Participants will learn how to cook outdoors whether they’re camping in one place for an extended period, or they need to keep things light while on the move. Heat is crucial for cooking, and the program will cover various ways to start a fire. It will look at different types of heat delivery options, including portable hiking and camping stoves. Tools and utensils needed for cooking and baking in the field will also be addressed, along with other special considerations when prepping food outdoors.
For more information and registration details see below.
Missouri will continue to offer beautiful views for outdoor social distancing as the fall season gets underway. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) offers weekly online fall color updates from agency foresters all over the state at mdc.mo.gov/fallcolor.
“The fall color report is a great resource for those wanting to enjoy the changing foliage,” said MDC Community Forester Ann Koenig. “It shows users where trees are beginning to turn and also suggests the best places to view the changing leaves.”
Generally, the changing of the leaves is predictable, but it can vary from year to year depending on the weather. Koenig explained that a windy fall or early hard freeze can dampen the fall color in trees due to the fact the leaves blow off the trees or freeze.
Donate the tree to The Missouri Department of Conservation to be used as the governor’s mansion Christmas tree.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is conducting its annual search for a large Christmas tree for use on the governor’s mansion lawn in Jefferson City. MDC is asking landowners, homeowners, businesses, and communities that may have possible candidate trees to contact the Department.
To qualify, the donated tree must be about 40-feet tall and be an eastern red cedar, Norway spruce, or white pine that is fully branched on all sides and accessible by large equipment.
The right tree may either be near the end of its life or may need to be removed for other reasons. Once a tree is selected, MDC staff will coordinate the cutting and delivery of the tree to the governor’s mansion at no cost to the owner. The donor will receive a thank-you from the governor and an invitation to the lighting ceremony, which usually occurs the first week of December.
“Sometimes there are beautiful evergreens that need to be removed for home expansion, utility work, or they’ve grown too large for the space,” says MDC Community Forestry Coordinator Russell Hinnah. “Having your tree displayed at the governor’s mansion is a great way to share its beauty with thousands of Missourians who visit the mansion during the holidays.”
Many people think of them as helpful little critters, but you might be surprised to learn they’re not so beneficial after all.
Invaders can come in many forms. Just like the plot of a horror movie, some of them might even seem benign and helpful, while they secretly wreak havoc. You might be surprised to discover that earthworms are just such creatures.
The Truth about Earthworms is a free online program presented by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and takes place Friday, Sept. 11 from 12-1 p.m. The presentation is free and open to all ages.
“Most earthworms are not actually native to the United States and were brought here by European settlers,” said MDC Naturalist Rena Schmidt. “They may be known to be great for gardens and fishing bait, but they can have enormous negative effects on our forest ecosystems,” she said.
Get outside and enjoy nature! Check out this information from the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Do you enjoy learning to identify new animals and plants? Do you enjoy contributing to citizen science? Help us document plant and animal life at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center by contributing to our iNaturalist Biodiversity Project!
1. iNaturalist is FREE
2. Go to iNaturalist.org to download the free smartphone app and create an account
3. On the app, click the camera button to take a photo of a plant or animal
4. Click on “What did you see?” and try to enter the best guess using the drop-down box with suggestions. Don’t worry, others will review your identifications
5. If your photos are taken at Powder Valley, the location and project will automatically choose Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center Biodiversity Project
6. Click on the Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center Biodiversity Project to see what has been observed, who has observed, and how many species we have documented
7. For fun for the entire family and some practice before you sign up for iNaturalist, download Seek, by iNaturalist, a smartphone app. This app works to identify your picture immediately providing you animal or plant identification and information.