BiodiverseCity St. Louis
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Welcome!
BiodiverseCity St. Louis is a growing network of organizations and individuals throughout the greater St. Louis region who share a stake in improving quality of life for all through actions that welcome nature into our urban, suburban and rural communities. Learn more about this effort, and join in.


Take Action Today…and Make It Count

Throughout St. Louis, every day, people are making big and small changes to their backyards, balconies, streetscapes, schoolyards, parking lots, and play areas. Some are doing this because they love nature and want to experience more of it in their daily lives. Others recognize that native plants in the right places help prevent flooding, clean and cool our air and improve human health and well-being. Still others embrace the positive impact that leafy streets, accessible parks, hiking/biking trails and other quality green spaces have on property values and the economic vibrancy of our region.

For all these reasons and more, the BiodiverseCitySTL Network invites each of the 2.9 million citizens of the greater St. Louis bi-state region to take action. In this spirit, we are excited to launch the Nature in Our Neighborhoods citizen action project. No matter who you are or where you live, all of us can do something to beautify, bio-diversify and better the communities in which we live, work, learn and play. To get started, check out our curated list of expert ideas and local resources from across our region, connect with others and share your stories.

 

Species Spotlight

Mobot_SNR_Boardwalk_PPL_004_Nieh
©Kat Niehaus & Missouri Botanical Garden

Citizen Scientist: YOU!

You don’t need an advanced degree to advance the cause of science. All you need is curiosity, a little time—and your smart phone! Citizen Scientists equipped with the app iNaturalist are making discoveries that grow your personal nature knowledge and contribute to the ecological knowledge base of our regional community. Especially in this era of staying apart to help everyone stay healthy, practicing Citizen Science with iNaturalist is a fun, real way to contribute to community health—for nature, and for you!

iNaturalist.org began in 2008 as the Master’s degree project of three students in UC Berkeley’s School of Information. Student power! After graduation, the app’s originators kept refining their tech and idea. California Academy of Sciences became a partner in 2014, and by 2017 National Geographic Society joined in too. Today, iNaturalist is the “gold standard” for public nature observation and data-gathering, from use in formally organized BioBlitz events, to everyday checking-out of cool stuff in nature.

Your adventures with iNaturalist link you with science professionals. When you upload a photo—or an audio or video recording—of a plant or animal that catches your attention, iNaturalist will identify your find for you. If you have observed something rare, or endangered or invasive, one or more experts in that biological field will weigh in to ID what you have seen, making your observation Research Grade.

Bonus! Local nature advocates have configured iNaturalist so that all observations posted by anyone at any time, from across the bi-state St. Louis region, are contributing valuable data to BiomeSTL, our regional vision, action plan, and atlas of biodiversity data. This resource is being developed to help municipal and county professionals factor biodiversity int0 community development decisions. Your “casual” observations are important! 

Happy observing!

 

Great Reads

DT Nature's best hope

Nature’s Best Hope by Douglas W. Tallamy

On March 6th and 7th, a biodiversity celebrity visited St. Louis! Doug Tallamy, author of the award-winning book Bringing Nature Home, delighted audiences from all across the St. Louis region with solutions and examples of how we can all invite nature into our backyards. Tallamy’s newest book, Nature’s Best Hope calls on all of us to make small changes in our landscapes to preserve and protect biodiversity. 

James Faupel, restoration ecologist at the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Litzsinger Road Ecology Center, provides a review of Nature’s Best Hope and explains how these principles are both timely and impactful, whether you’ve just heard of native landscaping, if you’re a seasoned veteran, or if you’re somewhere in between. Enjoy!

Today I am reviewing Dr. Douglas Tallamy’s newest book, Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard. I’m going to come at this review from two points of view. First from the view of a new or inexperienced home gardener, and then from the view of an experienced native plant gardener or professional.

Every new homeowner should be handed this book. Tallamy’s previous work, Bringing Nature Home, was such a watershed moment for many within the last ten years as to why they now garden or landscape with native plants. Nature’s Best Hope is shorter, more to the point, and lays out all the facts that modern day research has shown as to why you should be using native plants. Tallamy doesn’t beat around the bush and gives us the reality check on how dire the situation our local ecosystems are in, but he also gets to his solutions with some well written rays of hope. We can make a difference in our own local ecosystems if we each do our part.

For those of us who already understand why using native plants in our landscapes is the ethical thing to do, I’m left believing you were not necessarily the target audience of this book. You will hear some new information on best practices, unless you have been staying on top of native plant and North American ecology research over the last ten years. There is so much good information here though, and so well written, that you won’t mind the refresher if you are up to date.

Tallamy pens a hopeful and inspiring outlook on the future of our environment, as long as we take action now. I’m a pretty pessimistic person who sees all the environmental declines happening around me, and it depresses me that the generations following have to inherit them. Reading this book encourages me that we can change. I needed more hope right now.

Please recommend or gift this book to anyone you may think would be environmentally friendly but hasn’t yet made that shift in garden practices.

Check out KDHX Earthworms conversation with Doug Tallamy: http://earthworms.kdhxtra.org/natures-best-hope-with-doug-tallamy

 

Let's Map It!

City Nature Challenge 2020 logoCity Nature Challenge 2020
Friday, April 24–Monday, April 27

The 2020 City Nature Challenge is almost here!

As citizen science (also known as community science) initiatives increase in popularity, this year’s fifth annual City Nature Challenge is set to take place in cities throughout the world.

The global event, co-organized by San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, calls on current and aspiring citizen scientists, nature and science fans, and people of all ages and backgrounds to observe and submit pictures of wild plants, animals, and fungi using the free mobile app iNaturalist.

From Friday, April 24 to Monday, April 27, participants can upload their observations to the app, with identifications happening from Tuesday, April 28 to Sunday, May 3. Final results will be announced on Monday, May 4.

We know COVID-19 will significantly impact our 2020 City Nature Challenge project. After much thinking, we have decided to keep the City Nature Challenge event scheduled for April 24–27 (observations) and April 28–May 3 (identifications). However, we will be making some significant modifications: 

This year’s City Nature Challenge is no longer a competition. 

We want to embrace the collaborative aspect of sharing observations online with a digital community, and celebrate the healing power of nature as people document their local biodiversity to the best of their ability. We want people around the world to have the opportunity to participate, while still following all federal and local recommendations to keep communities safe.

As a participant, it is up to you how much or how little you take part! Do only what feels safe for you and your family. Follow all government health-safeguarding regulations!

Here in the St. Louis area, we realize that in-person events are likely not going to happen. But since we're still allowed to go outside, let's enjoy and document nature in whatever ways we feel we can! Being outdoors can also help to lower stress levels and increase overall feelings of well-being, so take care of yourselves by being in nature if you're able to.

Here are some suggestions to explore nature in and around your backyard:

Indoors:

In Backyards: 

  • Put up bird feeders or moth lights, or put down cover boards to bring nature to you! 
  • What are the wild plants growing in your backyard?
  • What insects or other creatures are using the cultivated plants in your backyard as habitat or a food source?

Stay safe, hang in there. We can't wait to see what you find in your houses, in your backyards, along sidewalks, in parks. Know that people all around the world are joining you in documenting nature in whatever way they can, even during these uncertain times.

 

Featured Partner Programs

Milkweeds for Monarchs logo   Bring Conservation Home logo   Operation Clean Stream logo   Show Me Rain Gardens logo
A Community Initiative to Promote, Protect and Plan for Biodiversity Throughout the Greater St. Louis Region

Supported by Ameren Missouri

Ameren Missouri Logo

 
Honeysuckle Sweep

March 2020
Join us for this region-wide project that gets communities involved in learning about and removing invasive bush honeysuckle.
Learn more
Volunteers remove bush honeysuckle

City Nature Challenge 2020

CNC20-English_Main-FC

As citizen science (also known as community science) initiatives increase in popularity, this year’s fifth annual City Nature Challenge is set to take place in cities throughout the world.

We know COVID-19 will significantly impact our 2020 City Nature Challenge project. After much thinking, we have decided to keep the City Nature Challenge event scheduled for April 24–27 (observations) and April 28–May 3 (identifications). However, we will be making some significant modifications. Learn more

If you are interested in learning about how you can be involved in activating St. Louis citizens, sign up here.
 

Nearby Nature

Nearby Nature map

Spend more of your time exploring and stewarding St. Louis' great outdoors. Download our Nearby Nature Map featuring 50 places to love and more than 100 things to do!

Stay-at-h0me Learning and Nature Adventures

Usually we include events & experiences; talks, workshops, and classes; and volunteer opportunities in this section. Following the CDC recommendations to stop the spread of COVID-19, this edition features stay-at-h0me learning and nature adventure options. Check back in the next newsletter for ways to get involved in your community. Stay safe and healthy!

What can we do while social distancing? Supporting CDC recommendations regarding COVID-19, here are virtual and healthy-distance events and opportunities!