a Winner: Chicago Wilderness Biodiversity Recovery Plan
The Chicago Wilderness Biodiversity Recovery Plan
has been selected by the American Planning Association (APA)
as the winner of its 2001 Outstanding Planning Award for
a Plan. The plan was honored at the APAs National
Planning Conference in New Orleans on March 13. In addition,
highlights of the Biodiversity Recovery Plan will be featured
in the March 2001 issue of Planning magazine.
Biodiversity Recovery Plan is the first of its kind to be
endorsed by a major planning agency. It outlines the steps
needed to enrich the quality of life for residents of the
Chicago Metropolitan area by protecting natural communities
in the region and restoring them to long-term viability.
The plan results from a three-year collaborative effort
by the Chicago Wilderness coalition of 124 public and private
conservation, resource management, citizen advocacy and
planning groups, and thanks go to all who contributed to
Chicago Wilderness Region has tremendous value in its extensive
biodiversity," said Bruce Knight, chair of APAs awards
jury. "The fact that this plan is being applied to a metropolitan
area makes it unique, and also sets an example that many
other regions can look to before it becomes too late."
Biodiversity Recovery Plan is designed to bring about an
environment that is beneficial to both people and nature,
protecting our natural heritage while the metropolis thrives,"
said John H. Paige, director of planning service for the
Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission.
remain competitive in attracting and retaining businesses
and residents, the region must offer a quality of life,
that if possible, is even better than that of other cities,"
Paige said. "Safe parks and trails, beautiful forests and
the presence of wildlife bring solace and inspiration to
our busy lives, and this plan resolves to retain that component
of the Chicago area for generations to come."
Recovery Plan is available from the Chicago
Wilderness Web site. To obtain a copy of the plan, call
Chicago Wilderness at (708) 485-0263, ext. 396.
Court Overrules Clean Water Act Protection
U.S. Supreme Court ruling on January 9 has been described
as one of the "most significant anti-environmental actions
of the last 20 years." The Court ruled in favor of the proposal
of the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC)
to place a garbage dump or "balefill" in Bartlett, south
of Elgin, Illinois.
proposed balefill site includes abandoned gravel pits, woods,
and 17.6 acres of wetlands that are presently habitat for
migratory birds. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had denied
SWANCCs permit, citing its jurisdiction under the
Clean Water Act.
Clean Water Act provides the strongest habitat protection
of any federal statute considerably more than the
Endangered Species Act. The 5-4 Supreme Court decision,
written by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, removed protection
nationwide from "isolated" wetlands, which include the principal
habitats for many amphibians and most of the prairie pothole
region, an area crucial for a large portion of the continents
waterfowl. According to Jean Sellar of the Army Corps of
Engineers, such areas provide 50 percent greater water storage
than the floodplain wetlands, which remain protected.
U.S. Congress, or state governments, or county or municipal
governments, can pass their own legislation to specifically
protect isolated wetlands. DuPage County, for example, already
has done so. Mike Staggs, director of Fisheries Management
and Habitat Protection for the Wisconsin Department of Natural
Resources commented in the February issue of The DNR News
& Outdoor Report that the ruling removed regulatory
protection from as much as 80 percent of Wisconsins
wetlands. Wisconsin recently approved protective legislation
in their state senate.
in Bartlett, the Supreme Court has paved the way to proceed.
The non-navigable waters of the balefill site will be filled
in and the great blue herons, wood ducks, Coopers
hawks, great horned owls, and horned larks, to name a few
species that nest there, will be without a home.
Wilderness Collaborates with Brazil
At a press conference in Curitiba, Brazil last December,
representatives from Chicago
Wilderness and its Brazilian counterpart, Condominio
da Biodiversidade, signed a Memorandum of Understanding
formally declaring their commitment to long-term scientific
collaboration and exchange.
joint projects and research agendas, this unusual international
partnership hopes to establish strategies that lead to the
protection of endangered natural communities on both continents.
The progressive and prospering city of Curitiba lies in
the transition zone of two extremely diverse and highly
endangered natural communities the Araucaria pine
forest and the Serra do Mar tropical evergreen forest; while
Chicago, of course, is on the border between the imperiled
tallgrass prairies and oak woodlands.
cities share similar challenges, and must work toward balancing
population growth with ecological awareness," says Debby
Moskovits, director of Environment and Conservation Programs
at the Field Museum. "There are many things that Chicago
Wilderness can learn from the Curitiba coalition, and were
also looking forward to sharing our experiences with them."
Study Involving CW Wins Prize
Oct 24, 2000, Dr. Yeqiao Wang received a major presidential
award for his Chicago Wilderness research in using information
from satellite images to reveal connections between urban
sprawl and the natural world. Recommended for the award
by NASA, Dr. Wang was one of 59 young researchers to receive
the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and
Engineers. Wangs research is part of the NASA Earth
Science Enterprise program, which seeks to use the vantage
point of space to understand the Earth, particularly the
impacts of human actions on the planet.
Wang led the efforts that used satellite images to develop
vegetation maps for the Chicago Wilderness region and to
analyze changes in our land cover over the past 25 years.
Sustainable Growth Committee Forms
civic leaders recently accepted the invitation of Governor
Ryan and Mayor Daley to head the newly formed Calumet Sustainable
Growth Advisory Committee. Two of the four John McCarter,
President of the Field Museum, and Bill Kurtis of Kurtis
Productions are long-time Chicago Wilderness leaders.
The others are Robert Darnall, former CEO of Inland Steel,
and Sheli Rosenberg of Equity Group Investments. The committee
will advise the city and state on a variety of projects
and sustainable development goals previously identified
in the Calumet Area Land Use Plan (CW,
Fall 2000). The plan includes rehabilitating key habitat
areas and restoring water connections through a Calumet
Open Space Reserve. The area is home to species such as
the state-endangered black-crowned night heron, the yellow
headed blackbird, and prickly pear cactus.
full Advisory Committee, whose members represent local residents
and industry, elected leaders, environmental interests,
and government agencies, will also work with Chicagos
Environmental Fund to seek private investments for a new
environmental center in the Calumet region, to acquire and
clean up a site, build the center, and create programming.
The Fund was recently given $6 million from the Ford Motor
Company for the new environmental center.
Tallgrass Prairie Heroes
I moved to the Chicago area, I didnt even know how
to spell prairie," says Marianne Hahn. But on November
30, 2000, the U.S. Forest Service recognized Hahn as prairie
Volunteer of the Year. "I was a woods and water person from
Michigan," said Hahn, whos now President of the Midewin
Tallgrass Prairie Alliance and member of the Armys
Restoration Advisory Board. Soon after moving here, she
volunteered to raise funds door-to-door to save 4.2 acres
of prairie for the Homewood Izaak Walton Preserve. "People
would ask me questions I didnt know the answers to.
Id go home, look them up, and go back the next day
with answers. The nature preserve project was so well received,
I volunteered to canvas four more blocks." Hahn later became
volunteer steward of the Homewood Prairie, which now encompasses
was recognized by the Forest Service for "outstanding public
service toward accomplishing the establishment and restoration
of the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie." Hahn and Joyce
OKeefe, associate director of programs at the
Openlands Project, organized the alliance of more than 40
conservation and environmental organizations whose work
led to the Illinois Land Conservation Act, signed five years
ago creating the 19,000-acre Midewin National Tallgrass
Prairie on the site of the decommissioned Joliet Arsenal.
recognized by the Forest Service was Bill Glass,
Illinois Department of Natural Resources Heritage Biologist
and occasional contributor to this magazine (see Wild
Ginger profile in this issue) for his professional contributions
to restoration at Midewin. "Weve discovered state-listed
plants we didnt realize were here at Midewin," Glass
says. "Henslows sparrows are on the increase, and
least bitterns and moorhens are nesting here now. Were
learning a lot about restoration on a large scale and that
is going to help natural communities across the country."
information on tours and volunteer opportunities, check
the Midewin Web site at www.fs.fed.us/mntp
or call (815) 423-6370.
Funds for Private Lands Habitat Restoration
year the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service introduced the Habitat Restoration
Program for the Fox River and Kishwaukee River watersheds.
The program is a locally led cost-share program that provides
financial and technical assistance for improving and restoring
habitat on private lands in priority areas.
landowners within McHenry, Kane, DeKalb, Boone, and the
western part of Lake and North Cook County (except state
and federal agencies) are eligible to apply for cost-share
funds. The program will provide cost-share payments for
all eligible practices at a rate of 75 percent. Eligible
practices include nesting structures, shoreline restoration,
drain tile removal, native prairie grass establishment,
drain tile flow control valve installation, livestock exclusion,
beaver dam bypass, gully restoration, installation of lunker
structures, weed control by controlled burn, and creation
of shallow open water areas for wildlife.
next project proposal deadline is August 15. Contact your
local Soil and Water Conservation District to obtain an
Yes for Green Acres in McHenry County
County residents can support truth and beauty on April 3
by voting YES for the Districts $68.5 million open
space bond referendum. The Conservation Districts
holdings are now more than 13,000 acres, or 3.5 percent
of total McHenry County land area. (The older Cook County
district owns more than 11 percent.) McHenrys goal
is to preserve 20,000 acres by 2002. Ten percent of the
funds will be designated for site improvements, including
restoration projects. Bond approval will cost the owner
of a home with a market value of $150,000 less than $30
year the McHenry County Conservation District acquired an
additional 773 acres of open space, including three parcels
contiguous to Glacial Park, bringing that preserve to well
over 3,000 acres. Other new parcels buffer Bystricky Prairie,
protect a population of white ladys slipper orchids,
and secure sandhill crane nesting grounds in the headwaters
of Nippersink Creek.
County Conservation District is celebrating its 30th Anniversary
on April 6. "Weve done very well in the areas of preservation,
education, and recreation," says Tom McCarthy, manager of
land and facilities, looking back on his 25 years with the
District. "The citizens realize this and give us a lot of
support. This is the fastest growing county in the state
and people know how important it is to preserve valuable
open space before its all gone."
Buys Buffer to Protect Wolf Road Prairie
January, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
acquired 16 acres of critical buffer lands to Wolf Road
Prairie in Cook Countys suburban Westchester, considered
one of the largest and highest quality black soil prairies
remaining in Illinois. The state paid $4.5 million for the
property with Open Land Trust and Natural Areas Acquisition
funds. The acquisition increases the size of the protected
area to about 104 acres, approximately 80 of which are dedicated
as an Illinois Nature Preserve and buffer to the preserve.
Road Prairie contains several natural communities, including
mesic prairie, marsh, and savanna, and harbors more than
400 plant species. The prairie was subdivided into nearly
600 lots for housing and commercial development in the 1920s,
but the project failed during the Great Depression. Little
by little parcels have been acquired and cared for, first
by the volunteer Save the Prairie Society (STPS), and eventually
by IDNR and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.
newly acquired 16-acre buffer parcel is on the prairies
western edge and further protects the watershed. It was
the proposed location for high density development including
a magnet school not supported by many residents of Proviso
Township. "The state moved quickly and brilliantly to acquire
this property," said Valerie Spale, executive director of
STPS. "It took incredible support from a great many people
including Governor Ryan, IDNR Director Brent Manning, Senator
Thomas J. Walsh, and long-time Wolf Road Prairie advocate
State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka."
Forest Preserve District of Cook County is now pursuing
the purchase of another Wolf Road Prairie buffer parcel
currently proposed for a senior housing complex. The parcel
is contiguous to the new IDNR acquisition and contains a
substantial portion of the historic oak and hickory grove
dating back to pre-settlement times located on the bufferlands.
For more information on Wolf Road Prairie, visit the Save
the Prairie Society Web site.
the morning of September 10, delegates to the Illinois Conservation
Congress voted unanimously to recommend Environmental
Literacy for Illinois (EL for IL) as the Congresss
highest education priority. This recommendation is very
significant because it is the first strategic plan for environmental
education adopted by Illinois. Thanks go to many Chicago
Wilderness individuals and organizations that helped make
this happen. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources
will implement the plan.
C. Hoff, 1921 - 2001
Hoff, longtime volunteer steward of West Chicago Prairie,
died in January at age 80. He collapsed while cross-country
skiing in a forest preserve.
Hoff. Photo by Dave Jagodzinski.
was one of the odd-jobs volunteers for him," writes Margrit
Nitz. "Mel worked for Amoco Chemicals Corporation for 36
years and had a Ph.D. in chemistry and 25 patents, not to
mention the tools he invented for use in the prairie.
avid birdwatcher, Mel was also well versed in prairie and
savanna flora and fauna. Hes the only person I could
call at eight in the morning with an identification question
for a turtle or butterfly, who would say, hold on
a minute. Ill get my books. He encouraged me
to collect wild petunia seeds, its not his fault I
chose a day that was 100° (with 1,000 percent humidity
and no breeze) to bag them. I sloughed with him through
a foot of water amongst the tussock sedges in the pouring
rain, all the while accusing him of trying to drown me.
He identified the cool bird that I saw as a greenwinged
teal. Both he and his wife Jean loved to give tours of their
yard. It is a beautiful, natural landscaped yard, especially
showy in the spring, with numerous twinleaf, white and red
baneberry, and merrybells, just to name a few."
was organized, curious, tenacious, fun, and had boundless
energy...He was the grandfather I never had. I miss him
December 19, the Lake County Forest Preserves Board of Commissioners
approved a new land buy that protects 55 acres adjacent
to Middlefork Savanna Forest Preserve near Lake Forest.
The $2.4 million purchase brings the Preserves acreage
to 576, and expands Lake County Forest Preserves (LCFP)
total holdings to 22,245 acres. "The 55-acre parcel provides
safe harbor for endangered species and several exceptional
wetlands that feed into the Chicago River and Middlefork
Savanna," says Al Westerman, LCFP president.
Savanna features a mix of oak savanna and woodlands, wet
and mesic prairie, sedge meadows and marsh wetlands. Over
25 of the savannas 576 acres are considered the highest
quality tallgrass savanna of its kind in the nation and
a globally threatened ecosystem. Recent land management
efforts have restored more than 50 additional acres to their
original savanna state.
new 55-acre acquisition expends the remaining land acquisition
funds from the LCFP April 1999 referendum, and marks the
first purchase made using funds from the November 2000 referendum,
overwhelming approved by 67 percent of the voters. The cost
of the new land buy is offset by a $200,000 grant received
from the Corporation for Open Lands (CorLands), a division
of the Chicago-based Openlands Project.
at Meigs Field
good for fish and wildlife is good for people," says Denise
Marx, co-chair of the Lake Michigan Federations
Lakefront Task Force, explaining the groups proposed
plan for converting the 91-acre Meigs Field into a lakefront
nature preserve after the planned 2002 airport closing.
The plan includes reintroducing the native plants, wetlands,
prairies, dune ridges, and woodlands that originally existed
along the lakefront. The Federation presented "A Vision
for Sanctuary Point" to the Chicago Park District on February
5. Chicagos Mayor Richard M. Daley promptly praised
the volunteer-produced plan that same day.
to Sanctuary Point, the Federations proposed name
for the peninsula, would be able to view the wetlands on
suspended boardwalks. Small harbors would allow children
and adults to snorkel and view Lake Michigan fish, mussels,
and other aquatic organisms. "Bringing waterfront nature
back to this exact spot Sanctuary Point makes
perfect sense," says Cameron Davis, the Federations
executive director, "because it gives children and adults
the opportunity to extend the reach of the Museum Campus
[the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium]."
Point would also provide much-needed habitat for some of
the more than five million songbirds that navigate the shores
of Lake Michigan annually. To view high-resolution drawings
of the Sanctuary Point plan, check out the Lake
Michigan Federation Web site. Joseph J. Ruzich
are learning that the best way to manage our water resource
is to retain water as close as possible to where it falls,
providing ways for it to soak into the soil. Thats
the way our water regime evolved most water entered
the streams and wetlands slowly through the soils between
storms rather than rapidly during storms. The Des Plaines
Watershed Team is working to promote the use of small individual
or neighborhood projects such as "good-neighbor" gardens
to demonstrate the beauty, simplicity, and effectiveness
of native landscapes in retaining and storing water.
by Bette Cianciarulo.
Elementary School in Des Plaines about one acre of a playground
sits in a slight depression. Following heavy rainstorms,
a small lake forms where children walk to school. There
were always lots of wet feet and concerned parents and teachers.
Attempts by the city to drain the area were futile. In 1999,
the Watershed Team became aware of the problem and held
discussions with Principal Christine Schumacher, teachers,
students, parents, and neighbors about converting the nuisance
into a resource by planting native seeds. On the last day
of school in May, dozens of students and friends of Cumberland
turned out to plant a prairie. A storm moved in as work
was winding up and a half-hour later the area was knee deep
summer and fall, the prairie set seed while the weeds grew
and last year the native plants took firm hold and outgrew
the weeds. The closest neighbor, former Alderman Nick Chiropolos,
doesnt mind the tall grass near his garden. Nick is
a volunteer at nearby Kloempken Prairie. He and Ken Schaefer,
who has nurtured expansive native plantings at Kloempken
Prairie for years, arrived at the school with a bushel basket
of seeds from Kloempken and continue to serve as unofficial
best friends of the prairie. The seeds collected at Cumberland
Prairie last fall will be donated to Kloempken, The Grove
in Glenview, and Emily Oaks Nature Center in Skokie.
is our own piece of history, for us to appreciate and enjoy
today," says Terry Clark, one of the many teachers at Cumberland
whose students monitor the progress of the prairie. "The
students are learning about natural communities first-hand,"
Clark added. "So many gold and purple finches, as well as
red-winged black birds have been attracted to the new plants."
The School received a $500 award for the project from the
North Cook County Soil and Water Conservation District that
was used for signs and potting supplies. Everything else
was provided by nature and neighbors.
there a drainage problem in your neighborhood that has defied
solution? Call the Des Plaines Watershed Team at (773) 960-5429.
Maybe you can demonstrate how the best neighbors get the
best things done in Chicago Wilderness! Bill Eyring
to Seed Cheaply
many seeds are there in 850 pounds? Well, whatever the number,
that is how many seeds McHenry County Conservation District
workers and volunteers collected last summer and fall from
55 native flower and grass species at District nurseries
and restoration areas. Plant Propagationist Beth Jarvis
is busy screening the seeds in the crowded shed where she
laughingly says she spent her winter. "What were doing
is preserving the biological heritage of McHenry County,"
she adds, "and that is important."
is very difficult to find seeds needed for woodland, wetland,
and prairie restoration projects, especially the local ecotypes
that make the most sense for conservation purposes. The
seeds gathered last year would cost $39,000 on the open
market. And those wouldnt have been the local ecotype.
2000 was the 14th year of the countys seed production
program. Gerald Tang
Campuses Go Native
a new collaboration supported by Chicago Wilderness and
the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Openlands Project
has teamed up with the Delta Institute to encourage native
landscaping on corporate campuses. The Delta Institute,
a non-profit organization dedicated to improving environmental
quality and promoting community and economic development,
is recruiting corporations to participate in the Environmental
Protection Agencys Clean Air Counts campaign, which
recognizes natural landscaping as one of several ways corporations
can reduce air pollution. "The Clean Air Counts campaign
will direct corporations to us. We hope to select several
corporations for pilot natural landscaping projects and
provide outreach and technical assistance to them," says
Jerry Adelmann of Openlands.
emit 60 tons per day of volatile organic compounds, a principle
ozone precursor. "Those 60 tons, combined with other consumer
products such as hair spray and household cleaners (which
produce an additional 66 tons per day) come close to equaling
the daily industrial emissions of 136 tons. Thats
a wow factor, to me, that makes one think twice about all
those lush, green lawns," says Openlands landscape designer
Julia Plumb. For more information about the Corporate Lands
Program, contact Julia at (312) 427-4256, ext. 234.
Naturally for Companies and Organizations
Metropolitan Natural Landscaping Initiative, a new project
funded by Chicago Wilderness and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service, is extending a hand to local governments, corporations,
and other large landowners to encourage the use of natural
landscaping. "Its a key strategy for engaging property
owners in order to fundamentally change the way we manage
our landscape," says project team member Richard Mariner,
director of conservation programs for Chicago Academy of
are trying to build on the successes of Sears, Lucent Technologies,
and Tellabs," adds Dennis Dreher, "and get other corporate
campuses to convert some areas to native landscape in the
context of improved environment, enhanced corporate image,
saving money and being a better neighbor in the community."
Dreher edited Preserving Nature in Your Community, available
through the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission.
part of the Metropolitan Natural Landscaping Initiative,
The Chicago Academy of Sciences has produced a new video
titled "Landscaping Naturally" specifically geared for corporate
and local government audiences. Copies will be available
this spring by calling Richard Mariner at (312) 886-6088.
Another resource, NIPCs "The Natural Landscaping Tool
Kit" includes a guidebook, and poster that can be ordered
by calling the NIPC publications department at (312) 454-0400.
A companion set of slides can be obtained through NIPCs
Planning Services Department at the same number.
Management Officer for Indiana Dunes
following job advertisement caught our eye: "Indiana Dunes
National Lake Shore The park has a GS-401-9/11/12
fire management officer position open until February 6th.
The park has from 40 to 120 wildfires a year, performs six
to ten prescribed burns a year, and has a fire effects monitoring
team. There is a significant urban interface component to
the job, and a federally endangered butterfly and numerous
rare plants must be considered in fire operations. The announcement
states that the applicant must qualify as a burn boss within
12 months of being hired. For information contact Bob Daum,
chief of resource management, at (219) 926-7561 ext. 340."
thought this job description was classic Chicago Wilderness,
so we called Bob to get more specifics. Major duties for
a GS-401-9/11/12 fire management officer include, "Plans
and directs surveys for the collection, analysis, and documentation
of data relating to fire effects on biotic and abiotic resources.
Together with resource managers, analyzes these data to
determine whether the prescribed burning program is meeting
long term goals and objectives for fuels management and
ecosystem health." Supervisory duties include the, "Ability
to integrate fire science knowledge with pertinent natural
and cultural resources programs."
case you were thinking of applying, this fire management
officer position has probably been filled since we went
to press, but Bob needs yet more help. Another six fire
team positions have been created for IDNL; a total of 3,500
new fire management jobs have been added across the country
a good example of what it takes for nature to thrive.
For more information visit the National
Park Service's FireNet.
Sierra Club Chapter in the Suburbs
in northwest Cook County, many of our neighbors are interested
in outdoor activities and concerned about disappearing natural
areas, air and water pollution, and poorly planned development,"
says Eric Patterson, a local high school teacher and one
of a group of leaders of the new Sierra Club Northwest
Cook County Group (SCNCCG). The group will offer opportunities
to explore the outdoors, learn about the environment, and
get involved in protecting natural areas.
group will hold public meetings the second Thursday of every
month. More than 70 people attended the first meeting in
February. Jennifer Johnson, global warming issues coordinator
for the Sierra Club Midwest Regional Office, will speak
on global warming at the April 12 meeting, and Jennifer
Hensley, grassroots organizer from the Illinois Chapter
office, will talk about opportunities for environmental
activism on May 10. Meetings are held at Hoffman Estates
High School. Contact Eric at (847) 490-0360 or email@example.com
for more information.
Project Volunteers Collect Plant Data
expert frog monitor needs to be able to identify the 12
species that live in this region by ear. An expert
plant monitor needs to identify many hundreds of species.
Even a single woodland or prairie may have more than 200
plant species. Yet the challenge is taken up each summer
as intrepid "botanizers" beginners and experts
gather the data crucial for maintaining healthy ecosystems.
past summer, volunteer monitors collected intensive plant
data at Poplar Creek Forest Preserve in Cook County, Grigsby
and Berkeley Prairies in Lake County, and other sites. Vegetation
data is collected for many purposes, but this group had
a specific set of questions in mind.
a reliable estimate of such measures as species richness
and floristic quality, monitors found that they didnt
really need all that many samples on most restorations and
old fields. Data from Berkeley Prairie showed that monitors
only needed 18 quadrats randomly placed to achieve a statistically
accurate picture of the sites quality. The sampling
also determined that, for our purposes, 1/4 meter square
quadrats were the most efficient.
monitors also confirmed that the few restoration sites that
contain prairie birds appear to have a lot of cool season
exotic grasses mixed in with the native forbs and grasses.
Grigsby Prairie and Poplar Creek both contained large amounts
of Kentucky blue grass, meadow fescue, and other non-native
just a handful of volunteers and a few days worth of work,
botanists were able to characterize five large sites and
begin to examine how grassland birds interact with the vegetation.
2001, the Habitat Project, which organizes volunteers, hopes
to monitor many more sites with an expanded group. If you
can identify most prairie and woodland plants, please volunteer
to join the advanced monitoring group. If youd like
to build up some plant ID skills, consider joining the training
field trips that will be scheduled throughout the Chicago
Wilderness area throughout the late spring and summer. Call
the Habitat Project hotline at (847) 965-9239 for
information about upcoming events.
Christopher Wren and Rickie White
Volunteers Learn to ID Tadpoles
amphibians and reptile monitors at Midewin National Tallgrass
Prairie got a crash-course in identifying larval salamanders
and frogs ("tadpoles") last spring. For most amphibians,
aquatic larvae represent the most vulnerable stage in their
life-cycles. However, adults of some species are very secretive,
and their larvae (usually present in breeding ponds for
periods ranging from weeks to months) may also represent
the most easily surveyed stage.
by Mike Redmer/©MikeRedmer.com.
problem with surveying amphibian larvae is that they can
be difficult to identify in the field. While several excellent
keys to amphibian larvae exist, they rely heavily on mouth-parts
and other small structures that are impractical for field
use. Only recently have amphibian biologists begun widespread
use of more easily observed external characteristics such
as color or shape for quick field identification of larvae.
The Midewin guide uses color photographs coupled with concise
lists of key characteristics to identify larvae.
year 2000 was the second in which Midewin volunteers received
training in amphibian and reptile identification, and survey
methods. They successfully used the new guides to identify
six of the eight amphibian species known from the grounds
of the former Joliet Arsenal. The Midewin larval guide could
serve as a prototype for expanded guides that could be distributed
to volunteer monitors through Chicago Wilderness or partner
organizations. Mike Redmer
March 9, the Chicago Audubon Society honored Debra
Shore, editor of Chicago
WILDERNESS, for excellence in environmental reporting.
Debra has been editor since the premier issue took our breath
away in November 1997. The magazine has now grown to a circulation
of 8,500 subscribers. Debra says the magazine is well received
mostly because a first time reader is so surprised by the
photos the incredible natural beauty found in our
metropolitan environment. (The New Yorker doesnt look
like this!) In the opinion of the news editor, the images
are indeed a part of it; the other part is content and presentation
(and restoration, protection, and management).
Hamill Family Play Zoo
June 14, the Brookfield Zoo will celebrate the official
opening of the Hamill Family Play Zoo where young
children and their families interact with animals, plants,
and people to help develop caring attitudes toward the natural
world. Guests at the Play Zoo will be able to touch animals,
build animal habitats, paint murals, examine animal x-rays,
plant gardens, dress up as a bird and other critters, discover
insects, and much more!
at the Play Zoo, visit the new Eco Café opening on
Earth Day April 22. The café will serve a variety
of organic and all-natural snacks and guests can discover
how the choices they make about the foods they eat can have
an impact on the environment! For more information call
(708) 485-0263 or visit www.brookfieldzoo.org.