Missouri Environment

Every two weeks Gary Grigsby  produces a in-depth feature about an environmental issue of importance to Missourians. Photo courtesy of Christopher Starbuck.

Native Plants in Growing Demand

May 5, 2016
Sebastian Martinez / KBIA

Native plants are having a a boom year, thanks in large part to a butterfly.

The sharp decline in monarch butterfly numbers in the winter of 2014 led to headlines about the destruction of their habitat in the U.S.

It sparked a national movement to plant milkweeds: the family of plants monarchs rely on to lay their eggs and feed upon as caterpillars. 

Future Far From Secured For Endangered Missouri Bird

Apr 19, 2016
Sebastian Martinez / KBIA

The greater prairie chicken is one of Missouri’s rarest birds. There are actually fewer than 300 left in the state. So the opportunity to see one is coveted by nature lovers. Even when it means getting up before dawn on a Saturday, and making the trip down to Wah’Kon Tah prairie, which many of the remaining chickens call home.

A group of about forty people did just that, turning up to the Missouri Department of Conservation’s El Dorado Springs office for one of a handful of greater prairie chicken viewings the department has organized this spring. After a brief orientation, the attendees hopped onto two buses, one lead by wildlife biologist Matt Hill and the other by Max Alleger, the department’s grassland coordinator.


Sebastian Martinez / KBIA

Fire plays an important role in many Midwestern ecosystems, but when it burns out of control it can also be devastating, as the wildfires in Oklahoma and Kansas have demonstrated. This time of year, when a lot of summer grasses and brush are still dead but the weather is warming up, the land is particularly flammable. That’s why agencies like the Missouri Department of Conservation take meticulous care in planning prescribed fire.


In Oregon County, Mixed Feelings About New State Park

Mar 15, 2016
Sebastian Martinez / KBIA

  The Eleven Point River flows for more than 100 miles through Oregon County, and right through the heart of the almost 4,200 acres the Department of Natural Resources recently bought to create a new state park. The river starts just north of the small town of Thomasville: home to the Eleven Point Cafe.

Like a lot of people in the county, the cafe's owner Jamie Warren is conflicted about the new park. "I think it could bring in a lot of tourists and it could help the economy, but it’s going to take a fight," Warren said. "I’m like most of the locals: we hate change."


Charlie Llewellin / CC BY SA 2.0 / Flickr

4,167 acres of land in Oregon County are at the heart of a dispute between state legislators and state agencies, supported by a slough of environmentalists.

That land, part of the former Pigman Ranch, is the subject of a proposal the Missouri Department of Natural Resources put forward last year to create a new state park.

Natural Gas Usurping Nuclear and Renewables in Missouri

Feb 16, 2016
Sebastian Martinez / KBIA

A crucial part of the effort to mitigate climate change is finding alternatives to fossil fuels.

A recent conference at the University of Missouri in Columbia focused on one of the most controversial of those: nuclear power.


Visiting Owl Highlights Loss of Missouri Prairie

Feb 2, 2016
Sebastian Martinez / KBIA

On a cold but clear Saturday evening, with the sun dipping towards the horizon, a group of 20 or so bird watchers assembled at Wah Sha She Prairie, about half an hour north of Joplin. They braved the cold, hoping to see the migratory short-eared owl.


Gary Grigsby / KBIA

In the world of lighting, reducing energy costs rules the day especially in lighting used outside the home.


Gary Grigsby / KBIA

The number of songbirds in this country has been declining for many years.


Gary Grigsby / KBIA News

Sometime later this month the city of Columbia will likely begin a test project at the city power plant on Business Loop 70.

Gary Grigsby / KBIA

When you're investing millions of dollars in a building project you might think twice before installing a type of  heating and air conditioning system that while growing in popularity, you are not all that familiar with.

Gary Grigsby / KBIA

Buildings are energy gluttons.

Federal government statistics show buildings use about 42% of the energy consumed in the U.S. each year.  Not too surprising really, everything from heating and air conditioning to lighting.  But planners, builders and such now have more ways than ever to reduce that level of gluttony.  Call it what you want, green building or sustainable building practices.  But what it really comes down to is building smarter.

Gary Grigsby / KBIA

Bald eagles in Missouri were taken off the federal endangered species list in 2007.

The road to recovery took nearly 30 years.  

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) now reports that around 2,000 bald eagles spend part of the winter in the show me state.

Gary Grigsby / KBIA

Thousands of bald eagles spend part of the winter in Missouri.  As winter approaches the eagles head south to eat fish from waterways that aren't frozen over as much as say, northern Minnesota.


Gary Grigsby / KBIA

MU scientists have narrowed down the possibilities of what might be causing white oak mortality in low-lying areas of Missouri Ozarks in the past few years.  But the mystery remains.

Dr. Sharon Reed is trying to solve the mystery.  She's an MU research scientist who has been working on the white oak mortality issue for some time.  She said some of her research is very low-tech like scraping bark off of dead white oak trees.  "Part of the process with the scraping is that we actually do try to isolate pathogens in the wood tissues.  And we do  that by taking out little chips from the areas that are darker in coloration."  

Gary Grigsby / KBIA

In the past few years white oak mortality has killed an untold number of trees in the Missouri Ozarks.

Gary Grigsby / KBIA

Pioneer Forest is located deep in the heart of the Missouri Ozarks.

It's the largest private landowner in the state with 143,000 acres spread out over six counties.  For about 60 years Pioneer has cut down trees on its land and sold them.  But its founder, Leo Drey, had something else in mind for the land management company besides making money.  And his philosophy is still in place at Pioneer all these years later.

Gary Grigsby / KBIA

You may have heard about LEED certified buildings. The non-profit U.S. Green Building Council developed the nationally accepted LEED benchmark for the design, construction and operation of green buildings.  It's a complex system where the owner of a building gets points toward LEED certification by incorporating sustainable practices into just about every aspect of the construction process.  

Gary Grigsby / KBIA News

Many folks are familiar with the Katy Trail.  It's used a lot and maintained by the State Department of Natural Resources.

Mark Glenshaw / forestparkowls.blogspot.com

In the past nine years St. Louisan Mark Glenshaw, the so-called owl man, said he has ventured into that city's Forest Park about 2,500 times to follow the activities of two great horned owls who he has named Charles and Sarah.

Years ago he began doing what he calls owl prowls where maybe half a dozen folks go with him on a guided tour of the owl's territory. 

Gary Grigsby

It all began nine years ago when Mark Glenshaw was walking in the 1,400 acre Forest Park near his home in St. Louis.

He had been doing this regularly for several years but this time out he said he saw two great horned owls in the park.  "The first sighting I had set a really high benchmark.  Just was instant addiction.  In 20-30 minutes I saw them hoot together, duet, a beautiful vocal and visual display.  I saw them fly.  Powerful, graceful, silent flyers.  And then I saw one of them chase a great blue heron, a bird twice its size and I was completely hooked."

Beth Lago

Getting messy for a cause.  That's what a couple of hundred or so folks did a couple of months back when they got up early on a Saturday morning and cleaned-up a stretch of the Missouri River near Boonville.

It was one of eight major clean-ups of the Missouri River in 2014 coordinated by the Columbia-based organization Missouri River Relief. 

Missouri River Relief

Some of the volunteers who work with a Columbia organization called Missouri River Relief refer to themselves in a manner that some might find interesting.

"We are kind of a tribe, 30-40 of us.  Crew," said Tim Nigh who is one of the founders of the organization. 

Gary Grigsby / KBIA

Electronic waste is a fancy term for everything from computers and monitors to printers and cables.  Well, anything you want to get rid of anyway.


Gary Grigsby / KBIA

For a long time in this country, landowners have taken steps to preserve their land from ever being developed.

Gary Grigsby / KBIA News

You might be surprised to find out that on many a Saturday in Columbia throughout the year, kids are getting up bright and early to take part in science-related activities.

And, it's not even required!  One of these events took place in late April when some Columbia Water and Light employees in conjunction with Columbia Public Schools helped about 15 students construct solar panels. 

Bridgit Bowden / KBIA

  Ameren’s Callaway nuclear plant near Fulton is in its 30th year of operation. It has a 40-year license and is in the process of getting it renewed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or NRC.

Missouri Coalition for the Environment is heading an effort to stop it from being re-licensed.

One of their main concerns is spent, or used, radioactive rods that are left over after making power. When they’re taken out of the reactor, they’re still extremely hot and need to be stored in a cooling facility.

Helping hands for Missouri Monarchs

May 21, 2014
Gary Grigsby / KBIA News

  Most of us are familiar with that icon of the insect world, the black and orange Monarch butterfly.

Bridgit Bowden / KBIA

  Food waste is something we all produce, but don’t like to think about. That’s why several large universities in Missouri are turning food waste from dining halls into compost.

Bridgit Bowden / KBIA

  The future of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways continues to be a matter for debate – particularly between Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder and state Representative Chris Kelly. The two politicians have been sparring over the park issue on Twitter, and on Saturday they met in the small southern Missouri town of Eminence for a formal debate.

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