Blog Archives

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Saint Louis Zoo Makes Decisive Move to Save American Red Wolves

Pictured: American red wolf. Photo by Rebecca Bose, Wolf Conservation Center, South Salem New York.

The American red wolf is staring down extinction, with only about 20 left in the wild – but the species has an important new ally in the Saint Louis Zoo.

Responding to an urgent call to keep this species from going extinct, the Zoo is transforming part of its land in Franklin County, Mo., into a conservation habitat where 24 American red wolves will live and breed in a private, protected natural setting.

The Zoo is developing approximately 20 acres of its 355-acre property in Franklin County, known as the Saint Louis Zoo Sears Lehmann, Jr. Wildlife Reserve, with separately secured habitats for 12 mating pairs of wolves in 2021. The wolves will come from other conservation organizations in 2022. The campus will not be open to visitors, as the Zoo wants the wolves to learn natural survival skills without much human interaction in the secured facility.

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Bluebirds of Happiness Virtual Program Feb. 11

Bluebirds of Happiness – Missouri Department of Conservation Virtual Program, Thursday, February 11, 1-2 p.m. Registration required. (CLICK HERE)

The Eastern bluebird is the state symbol and a symbol of conservation success in Missouri. Join us as we look at the bluebird’s history, success and future in Missouri. Plus, learn how you can attract these ‘patriotic’ birds to your backyard.

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Burning Embers and “A Sad Deal” in the Missouri Ozarks

Pictured: Brandon Butler’s Ozark cabin retreat after it was set on fire in a possible retaliation incident for reporting a poaching incident.

by Don Corrigan

The great outdoors is not always idyllic. It can be full of blood-sucking chiggers and mosquitoes, unhappy skunks, thieving bears and obnoxious rodents. Then there are other humans, who can be disagreeable, destructive and downright dangerous.

Missouri Outdoor Communicator Brandon Butler had an experience with the human kind recently that left him with a cabin reduced to burning embers and what he calls “a sad deal.”

Butler is pretty sure his cabin in the Ozarks near Timber was burnt to the ground in retaliation for reporting a poaching incident. The incident involved deer hunting infractions at the beginning of the rifle portion of deer season in November.

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MDC, Dickerson Park Zoo to Host First-Ever Virtual Eagle Days

Photo courtesy MDC.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and Dickerson Zoo in Springfield have teamed up to host MDC’s first online-only Eagle Days celebration Feb. 6. The event will be held virtually this year due to COVID-19 health concerns.

As part of this year’s Eagle Days events, Dickerson Park Zoo will provide participants with an up-close view of a live, rehabilitated eagle and peregrine falcon. Characteristics of these two birds will be discussed, and Q&A opportunities will follow each program.

Advanced registration for MDC Eagle Days is recommended: See below or (CLICK HERE).

The event is the latest example of the longstanding partnership between MDC and Dickerson Park Zoo. The program is known to raise awareness about bald eagles and is also credited with helping our national bird achieve a triumphant return to Missouri.

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Part I: Conservation Rules At Missouri’s Prairie Star Restoration Farm Near Bland

Pictured: Bruce Sassmann by Jessalynn Cairer Photography.

By Don Corrigan

Take a tour of Prairie Star Restoration Farm, between Bland and Belle, Mo., and you’re likely to get an earful from landowner Bruce Sassmann. Yeah, some of that earful will be a load about composting, but a lot of it will be quotes from his conservation idols.

Sassmann loves conservationists and has built guest shelters on the property that are replicas of historic haunts of Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold and John Muir. Thoreau’s house on Sassman’s farm even includes a pond – think Walden Pond.

A tour of Prairie Star Restoration Farm will take you past fields of wildflowers on the way to the replica cabin of Henry David Throeau on Walden Pond.

As you approach the Leopold site modeled after the original shack in Sand County, Wisconsin, Sassman will start quoting the famous conservationist in a low whisper. Sassman is kind of a conservation whisperer.

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us,” begins Sassman, with his low Leopold recitation. “When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”

According to Sassmann, “If I picked only one Leopold quote to savor, I think Aldo would approve of that one. Aldo Leopold is my conservation hero. He weaves his philosophy and ecology into poetic science.”

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Missouri’s Santa Fe Trail at 200 Virtual Program – Feb. 3

 Missouri State Museum invites the public to attend a virtual program, Missouri’s Santa Fe Trail at 200, as part of its ongoing “Landing After Hours” series at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 3 on the Missouri State Museum Facebook page: facebook.com/MissouriStateMuseum/

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“Time Fork” At Laumeier Offers Visions Of Past & Future

Pictured: Van McElwee

Artist Van McElwee’ “Time Fork” at Laumeier is part of the sculpture park’s thematic exploration  – “The Future is Present: Art & Global Change” – which runs through the late spring. The theme covers such topics as environmental crisis, tech waste, deforestation and astronomical phenomena. In part, McElwee’s art piece invites us to think about past civilizations, including the Mississippian settlements such as Cahokia Mounds just across our major river.

Cahokia Mounds once had more than 30,000 inhabitants and in 1150 was larger than any European city, including London. It was the largest city in North America until Philadelphia surpassed it in the late 1700s. Anthropologists speculate that when the Cahokia Mounds was abandoned about 1350, it may have been because of environmental degradation. Wanton tree cutting and erosion hurt the sustainability of crop lands and increased vulnerability to catastrophic river floods. For more on this, check out author Martin W. Sandler’s, “Lost To Time.”

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Politics & Pandemic: Battle Looms in Mo. Farm Country

Family farms make a difference in animal welfare and the environment versus the impact of factory farms. Photo: LTD Photography.

by Don Corrigan

There’s not always a lot  of common ground between environmentalists and landowners in rural red state Missouri. Property owners and farmers want freedom to use the land as they wish, while environmentalists favor regulations to protect land and water in the public interest.

That divide between environmentalists and landowners is mirrored in the general partisan divide between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans in Missouri. One place where the divide is bridged and agreement can be found is on the ill effects of expanding CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations).

Landowners worry that CAFOs, which are giant factory farms, will fill the surrounding air with the overwhelming odors from huge reservoirs of animal waste. They also worry that the pools of waste will breach, resulting in major contamination of groundwater as well as nearby lakes and streams.

Small family farms also feel threatened by the prospect of being taken over by well-financed corporate farm operations. These kill independent farms. Farmers worry their children may end up going to work as virtual sharecroppers for a giant company with headquarters out of state or even out of the country.

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Great Rivers Greenway – A St. Louis Success Story

by Don Corrigan

For the past two decades, Great Rivers Greenway’s (GRG) expanding network of recreational trails have been a St. Louis success story. Now GRG officials are asking area residents to envision the next 20 years of trail expansion and amenities.

Area residents are invited to guide Great Rivers Greenway’s work by providing feedback through Jan. 15 at http://www.GreenwayPlan.org. One survey participant will be randomly drawn to receive a $300 grocery gift card.

GRG has built more than 128 miles of greenways that connect people to their jobs, schools, parks, rivers, neighborhoods, business districts, transit and more. Greenways typically include a paved trail, conservation projects to enhance the environment, amenities like restrooms and vital destination connections.

The trails have spawned “People of the Greenways” — hiking, biking, in-line skating enthusiasts and more. Korri Thomas of South County is one of those people. An Alabama transplant, Thomas said she loves to exercise safely and to explore the region via trails.

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Local Environmental Leaders’ New Year’s Wishes 2021

by Don Corrigan

What will 2021 bring for environmentalists, nature advocates and outdoor enthusiasts? Will the pandemic of 2020 offer some hard lessons about nature’s fragility? Will America rejoin the world forum on Climate Change? Will St. Louis cultivate more open spaces and find ways to reduce the region’s carbon footprint?

Environmental Echo contacted more than a dozen local environmental leaders and asked for their 2021 prognostications and their New Year’s wishes for the planet, the country and for their own piece of planetary turf in the heartland of the Mississippi and Missouri river valleys. Their answers were as varied as the organizations for which they advocate and represent.

Rejoin Paris Climate Accord

Pictured: Richard Thoma

Richard Thoma of the Webster Groves Nature Study Society said he is looking forward to the United States reentering the Paris Climate Accord, an agreement for countries around the world to limit greenhouse gas emissions. “In 2021, let’s put our money where our mouth is and actually do something about this global threat,” Thoma said.

“Cities too, like St. Louis, could get involved in creating more green space as part of this effort,” Thoma added. “Wouldn’t it be neat in 2021 if St. Louis and other cities around the world took those blighted neighborhoods filled with abandoned buildings, raised them to the ground, and then replaced them with parks?”

Pictured: Sister Cheryl Kemner

Sister Cheryl Kemner, with the environmental advocates of the Franciscan Sisters, said her wish for 2021 is a renewal of hope for the future and a return to and fulfillment of the Paris Climate Agreement.

She said she prays for restoration of our relationship with nature, so we see its beauty, its intrinsic value, and that this leads to an appreciation and protection of nature’s diversity.

“I pray for a renewal that establishes ‘harmony within ourselves, with others, with nature and other living creatures, and with God’ as cited in Laudato Si,” said Kemner. “I wish for sustainable lifestyles attained by living simply … I pray for a healthy planet that is sustainable, a planet that has the time to rest and renew itself.”

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