Missouri Environment

Sebastián Martinez / KBIA

As the winter moves in, several species of ducks are making their way into and through Missouri, en-route to their overwintering grounds. While this time of year is a boon to duck-hunters, recent research suggests ducks moving through might soon be an ominous sight for farmers. On an overcast Sunday afternoon, I found a group of mallards – known as a raft – dabbling in a pond at Columbia’s Forum Nature Area. The ducks were foraging for food, alternating between plunging their heads under the...

For Prairie Conservation, Bison Serve as Tools

Nov 1, 2016
Sebastián Martinez / KBIA

On a recent Friday morning, a group of about 20 Nature Conservancy Trustees, visitors and staff have gathered for a tour of the conservancy’s Dunn Ranch Prairie. The Nature Conservancy is an international non-profit focused on conservation, and its Missouri director Adam McLane is on hand for the day’s tour. The prairie covers more than 3,000 acres and is host to a dizzying variety of native insects and birds, but on this morning, the tour group gathered to see its most imposing inhabitants:...

Audubon Society's Big Sit: "Like Tailgating for Birders"

Oct 13, 2016
Sebastián Martinez / KBIA

Every year on the second weekend of October, birders and bird-watchers across the country demarcate a 17-foot wide circle, set up shop within it, and bird watch from dawn to dusk. Countless chapters of the National Audubon Society organize the event, appropriately titled the Big Sit. Birders chat, knit and even barbecue during the event, all while keeping a count of all the different birds they see. Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Chariton County has played host to the Grand River...

Micro Fishers Hunt for the Tiniest Catch

Sep 27, 2016
Sebastian Martinez / KBIA

Hinkson Creek, which runs through Columbia, might not seem like an ideal destination for anglers. While it carries some standard game fish like bass and blue gill, you’re not likely to find any record catches. But on a recent late-Summer day, Michael Moore was after fish on the opposite end of the spectrum. A doctoral student in fisheries conservation at the University of Missouri, Moore was turning over rocks in the creek, looking for tiny aquatic bugs to use for bait. After gathering a half...

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.