Sierra Club

Eastern Missouri Group E-Newsletter

MARCH 2011

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March 24, 2011, Sierra Club/Audubon Joint Meeting
7:30 pm to 9 pm at Litzsinger School, Lindbergh Blvd and Litzsinger Road (map)

Catherine Redfern, Development Director at the World Bird Sanctuary, will celebrate UNESCO’s 2011 Year of the Bat with a multi-faceted presentation about their amazing abilities like echolocation that allows them to detect and avoid objects as fine as a single human hair. In Missouri, bats are an important predator of flying insects; in other places, they eat fruit and pollinate many plants. 14 different species of bats are found in Missouri. Sadly, many of those may be threatened by the rapidly-spreading and still poorly-understood White-nose Syndrome. The fungal infection has killed over a million bats in just the five years since it was discovered.

Free and open to the public. Join us for dinner before the meeting at around 6 pm at The Daily Bread Cafe, 11719 Manchester Road in Des Peres. (map)


March 19th -20th, WHITE WATER CANOE RACES
For over 25 years Sierra Club volunteers have provided judges for the slalom races through the rapids of Millstream Gardens on the St. Francis River. No prior experience needed, so call today to sign up for one day or both. Free camping nearby at Silver Mines. This is a fun weekend and your chance to see some of the best kayakers and canoeists in the Midwest negotiate slalom gates on white water.  Jim Nyberg, (314) 725-0767, or George Behrens, (314) 821-0247 (after 6 p.m. only).

 
Trail Building at Hawn State Park ... We need your help!
Trailbuilding with the Sierra Club Outdoor people, we do need your help! Several of our favorite hiking areas have been affected by the winter weather, and we need to get the trails back in top shape for the spring hiking season, which all of us enjoy. Trees have been blown down by high winds. Heavy rains have eroded some sections of the trails. Some areas can be rebuilt, other areas will need to be rerouted. It is going to take some elbow grease to make the repairs and do the re-routes. We have done this before and everyone had great fun working together to get the trails back in shape. We had so much fun, we could hardly call it work!!!

Now, it is time to have fun together . . . again!!!

To get the trails back in shape, we have set aside four days to work on the trails in one of the most beautiful parks in Missouri, Hawn State Park, a short 60 mile drive south of St. Louis. The dates for this trail work are set for Thursday, March 31 thru Sunday, April 3. We have fun things for all skill levels, so don't be afraid to join in, for a day or two . . . or all four. We would love to have you all four days, but any amount of time will be appreciated..

What you will need: Sturdy footwear, rain gear, work gloves, lunch and water. If you can help us for several days, you will need to bring your camping gear, assuming you will be camping with us. We will provide free camping. We may be able provide some free meals. We have the option to go out for pizza or to the Midway Grill for some great burgers!!!!

Trailbuilding with the Sierra ClubWe really need your help, and your help will be appreciated...

We will meet each day at the Hawn State Park Office at 8:30 AM. So, whether you help us for one day, or more, we will start each day at the park office.  There you will be introduced to the rest of the workers, given necessary information, and then you will be off to have fun working with the leaders as you all give the trails the gift of your time, which will then be enjoyed by many as the hiking season comes to life this year. Thanks and have fun playing with others!!!!

For additional information or questions contact: Bob Gestel at 636-296-8975 or rgestel@sbcglobal.net , or Paul Stupperich at 314-429-4352 or lonebuffalo@earthlink.net.


Needed: Membership Chair

The EMG is seeking a self-motivated "people person" to lead our membership engagement team.  The primary tasks for this person would be to engage our members, recruit new members, recruit volunteers from our current membership, and maintain a healthy level of activity and enthusiasm within our community.  The Sierra Club actually has created a detailed guide for doing all this.  If interested, please contact Richard Egan at egan.egan@att.net.
 

CONSERVATION LOBBY DAY
Be part of Conservation Lobby Day on Tuesday, March 29, in Jefferson City. This is a great chance for legislators to hear about our desires to protect state parks and clean up our air, land and water. For more information, click here.


Confluence Trash Bash
Saturday, March 26, 2011, 8:30 AM – 12:00 PM, Lunch and Celebration to Follow

EMG and Piasa Palisades Group of the Illinois Sierra Club will cooperate to clean up Maple Island. We will meet and sign-in at 8:30 am at Alton, IL on the riverfront. The US Corps of Engineers will take us in boats to Maple Island Conservation Area.  About 11:30 am the Maple Island crew will join the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge volunteers for a free lunch and a celebration complete with Trash Artists who will be turning trash into art. All participants will receive a free lunch and t-shirt. Prizes will be awarded for the most interesting trash finds.  Many environmental groups are working together to make this a memorable event at several locations.  Anyone interested in working on our Maple Island crew must register with Gloria Broderick at 314-741-4588.  Please attend and send us your pictures of the event.


Sierra Club loves native plants   
In the spring of 2005, Eastern Missouri Group volunteers planted a tiny Maplewood city park with exclusively native plants.  It is located just a few doors west of our office on Manchester Avenue.  Volunteers have maintained this park for six years now, offering a touch of nature to the city residents.  It's now the time of year to clean out the old dead growth making room for the plants coming out of dormancy.  This is our most labor intensive job of the year, so we hope you will be able to help for a couple hours. 

Date/Time: Saturday, March 26 at 10 am (call me if you’d like to start earlier)
Location: 7170 Manchester Avenue, west of McCausland and east of Bellevue.
Bring: work gloves, hand pruners, hedge clippers if you have them.
Info: Penny,  314-487-2738 or pennyholtz@brick.net.


Vote YES on to retain Saint Louis City Earnings Tax on April 5
The Eastern Missouri Group joins the Missouri Chapter in urging our members who reside within the St. Louis city limits to vote YES to retain the one percent St. Louis City Earnings Tax on April 5.  A major loss of revenue (30% of it's budget) could have numerous environmental repercussions.  Impacts would include:  less maintenance of city parks, our urban green spaces; reductions to the newly-installed recycling program; reduced air-pollution monitoring; increased sprawl; and, potentially, lessened quality of city water. 

To help with the campaign, contact Michael Berg at 314-644-1011 or michael.berg@sierraclub.org.  If you live in Saint Louis City, go to the polls and vote YES on Proposition E on April 5.


OUR MISSION: FOX CREEK
Is Fox Creek a pristine, biodiverse urban stream fit for whole body contact?  After rainfall on a hot day I have dived into the depths near a boulder dissected by a fallen tree.  In the riffles the Sierra Club stream team has netted sensitive macro-invertebrates.  If magnified, hellgrammites with their curved pincers and sturdy armored bodies could be cast as predators in the "Insect Fear Film Festival."  But the presence of hellgrammites, gilled insect larva, indicates good water quality loaded with dissolved oxygen.  We vigilant crusaders defend stream purity.

After voters rejected the Natural Streams Act, Jim Rhodes and I investigated the Stream Team program initiated by the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Department of Natural Resources.  In 1993 we completed our training and inducted our recruits. Equipped with net, chemical kit, and measuring devices we strode into our first chosen stream, Creve Coeur Creek.  After a while monitoring that stream became mundane -- the end of the Page Ave. Extension battle and few hydro-creatures to spike our interest.  So we pioneered west to Eureka, to Fox Creek whose pristine waters might be threatened by unsustainable development. 

In 2000, while bulldozing a hillside road, a developer blasted Volkswagen-size boulders, cobbles and gravel into Fox Creek, smashing fish habitat and smothering larva, crayfish and other macro-invertebrates. Our stream team advocated for redress with Eureka, the EPA, Army Corps and DNR.  The Army Corps investigated and Missouri DNR mandated streambed restoration and bank re-vegetation. As the Army Corps of Engineers' first Stream Mitigation Bank, the shores of Fox Creek were landscaped with native species. The Bank owners then sell credits to developers who must buy them to mitigate stream disturbance elsewhere.  Before the housing market collapsed, our stream team noted the progress of a proposed 900 home subdivision near the Stream Mitigation Bank.  Including the intended wetland was there enough earth and vegetation to absorb run-off from the subdivision's impervious surface? 

Monitoring water quality of Fox Creek four times a year is our team's continuing mission.  Each season we perform a visual survey of vegetation and streambed conditions and note obvious disruption.  By measuring depth and width of a stretch of creek and then recording the time a bob takes to float ten feet, we determine stream flow, the volume of water passing a point in a second (cubic feet per second.)  Our chemical tests help establish:  whether dissolved oxygen content can support life, whether ammonia and nitrates may create algae blooms which rob the stream of oxygen, conductivity which may indicate infiltration of metals, viability from measurements of street salt chloride, ph and turbidity.  Once a professional test revealed extremely elevated fecal coliform bacteria from an undetermined source. 

Most critical to our monitoring is the netting and identification of insect larva, crayfish and other invertebrates in the water.  To capture macro-invertebrates we press a net against the substrate in a riffle. Next we rub bottom rocks and stream dance to stir and drive creatures into the net.  Then our group carries the cargo to shore and tweezes live minutia into a water-filled ice cube tray where we identify them using magnifiers and field guides.  By recording the number of different species and their sensitivities to water conditions, we calculate the water quality for the sampled stretch of stream.  The duration of our net examination is directly proportional to the number of observers gazing in awe at the collected critters.  After returning the macroinvertebrates to the stream, we net in two more places at the first site, and then repeat the operation at a second site a  mile downstream. We mail our data sheets to DNR for scrutiny and entry into their data base.

We are planning our stream team's next monitoring event for April 2 or April 9.  Would you enjoy getting your feet wet testing water quality -- or dryly observing and recording on shore?   Email Leslie at leslielihou@hotmail.com


Eastern Missouri Group Outings Schedule

Sierra Club members and non-members are welcome to join club members on our outings.

Visit the Eastern Missouri Group website for more information about outings, activities and issues.

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Sierra Club - Eastern Missouri Group
7164 Manchester Ave.
Maplewood, MO 63143 314-644-0890
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