Legislation Benefits Nature
August, Wisconsin Governor Scott McCallum approved a dramatic
expansion of the state's Stewardship Fund by $112 million
over the next eight years. The Fund now $60 million
a year helps state and local governments and conservation
groups buy critical lands for parks, trails, and natural
and wildlife areas. The new funds will likely be used to
protect more than 50,000 acres of conservation land.
In addition, a provision banning oil and gas drilling in
the Great Lakes was approved by the legislature and signed
by the governor.
Gov. McCallum also vetoed a budget provision to split the
Department of Natural Resources by removing all forestry
functions and creating a new Department of Forestry. Hunting,
fishing and environmental groups all opposed this move because
it would destroy integrated resource management (literally
separating the trees from the forest) and would increase
administrative costs required to run two state agencies.
Citizens opposed the split by more
District Permits Deer Hunting
September 20, 2001, the Board of the McHenry County Conservation
District (MCCD) approved a plan for deer hunting at two
sites: the Rush Creek and Brookdale Conservation Areas.
In other counties, deer control on conservation land has
been by paid marksmen.
Over the past nine years, the District’s resource management
staff had been studying deer populations and their effect
on the larger ecosystem. They counted 95 deer at the 600-acre
Rush Creek preserve, a site that can sustainably support
17 deer, notes Kate Halma, MCCD communications director.
Halma says that hunting on adjacent privately-owned lands
may push deer into the haven of MCCD property.
required antler-less deer [almost always these are does]
to be taken first,” she says, adding that such a policy
is the only one that will help to achieve conservation goals.
Midway through the first trial year, 16 hunters had filed
applications with the District and attended the District’s
required orientation meeting. (Hunters must also pass a
state safety exam.)
Hunters took six deer from Rush Creek in the first weekend
of the two state hunting seasons. “We’ll be gathering information
from hunters and studying the effects of this program,”
Halma says. Chicago WILDERNESS plans an expanded report
in a future issue.
to "The Fox"
was one of the most notorious and certainly the most
elusive conservation crusaders in the Chicago Wilderness
region. Only when he died, in early October, did the world
learn that James Phillips, 70, was the man known as "The
Fox." Beginning in the late 1960s, Phillips undertook
a series of environmental escapades, such as plugging up
the waste pipes of factories that dumped pollutants into
his beloved Fox River, and depositing 50 pounds of raw sewage
in the corporate offices of another malefactor, and capping
smokestacks with concrete. Assisted by a band of faithful
lieutenants known as "The Kindred Spirits," Phillips
managed to escape detection while his exploits, which made
him a folk hero, were reported in Time and Newsweek.
A middle school science teacher and later a field inspector
for the Kane County Department of Environment, Phillips
also participated in the 1973 re-enactment of the Jolliet-Marquette
canoe expedition from the Straits of Mackinac to the mouth
of the Arkansas River on the Mississippi. In 1986, Phillips
founded the Fox River Conservation Foundation. In late November,
friends and family scattered his ashes into the Fox River
and broke his canoe paddle in tribute.
is my jury," The Fox once said. "The minute people
think I'm out of line, that I'm writing the rules to suit
me and not them, I'll be caught." He never was.
Look for a fuller tribute to The Fox in the next issue of
Pellets Popular with Students
waste products have become an increasingly popular sight
in grade schools across Illinois, but not because of bad
cafeteria food. A growing number of teachers are using the
leftovers that owls regurgitate after a meal to teach their
is one of our biggest clients," says Kim Gaussoin of
Pellets Inc., the world's largest owl pellet supplier. "We
sell pellets and support materials to approximately 850
schools throughout the state."
like a puzzle for my students," says Deb Petersen,
a 4th grade teacher at Hunting Ridge Elementary School in
Palatine. "After they pick out all the different pieces
from the pellet, they can’t wait to put the bones back together
to see what kind of animal it was."
Owl pellets, as these compact little packages are so discreetly
called, contain the fur, bones, feathers and other materials
that owls can't digest. Following a feast of vole, shrew,
mouse, or other local delicacy, an owl's stomach will form
a pellet containing these un-digestible elements, which
the owl will regurgitate later to make room for its next
meal. And since owls frequently swallow their prey whole,
these pellets often contain all the skeletal components
of the bird’s quarry, leaving a biological mystery just
waiting to be solved.
read and write poems about owls, and we discuss the geography
of their habitat around the country," adds Petersen.
"Dissecting owl pellets is a fun way to teach social
studies and language arts as well as science."
Unfortunately, one of the educational opportunities unique
to Illinois is one that teachers and students would rather
not lay claim to. Due to loss of habitat and food supply,
Illinois is the only state where barn owls (Tyto alba)
one of the major sources of pellets for educational
use have been classified as an endangered species.
But a hard lesson about habitat loss has inspired some students
to try and make a difference. Last year, students from the
Rogers Elementary School in Marquette Heights raised more
than $1,600 selling tee shirts and CDs to help fund the
purchase, construction, and placing of nesting boxes for
barn owls around Illinois. This past spring, teacher Patty
Massaglia and her 4th and 5th grade students donated their
check to the Illinois Conservation Foundation and will soon
have a barn owl nesting box posted outside their school.
Some experts fear that loss of nesting and hunting habitat
has led to the barn owl’s downfall in Illinois. Erecting
nesting boxes may be one way to help this species.
lot of the kids decide that they want to be park rangers
when they grow up," Petersen says. “And even though
there are some kids who are squeamish at first, they end
up thinking it’s pretty cool. The most difficult thing for
my students is to get their parents to hang their work on
the refrigerator a reconstructed skeleton of the
owl’s prey glued onto a piece of cardboard.”
Illinois Prairie Path volunteer group has begun a campaign
to preserve an undeveloped 8.3-acre parcel of land in unincorporated
DuPage County that includes the Glacial Ridge natural area,
a remnant of one of the largest kames in DuPage County.
Deposited 10-15,000 years ago when the last glacier moved
through northern Illinois, the kame is a unique geological
and vegetative feature bordering the Illinois Prairie Path
(IPP), a 61-mile-long biking, hiking, jogging, equestrian,
and nature trail in Cook, DuPage, and Kane Counties. If
this parcel is developed, a new street will have to be built
across the trail at Whittier Avenue in Glen Ellyn, creating
a hazard for trail users on this very busy section of the
The “Special 8” parcel also harbors an unusual assemblage
of oak woodland vegetation on gravel soils. Pat Armstrong
of Prairie Sun Consultants and Marlin Bowles of the Morton
Arboretum have surveyed the parcel and identified more than
100 native plant species, including a population of pale
vetchling, a threatened species in Illinois. "These
eight acres may represent the last unprotected piece of
original vegetation in the county," states Armstrong.
"Finding these rare native plants living together in
their habitat (although disturbed by vehicle trails) was
like being transported back in time to a place unseen for
over 100 years."
More information about the IPP and the "Special 8"
campaign can be found at http://www.ipp.org
or by calling (630) 752-0120.
its 1999 bond referendum, the Forest Preserve District of
Kane County has spent nearly $35 million to acquire roughly
2,000 acres in 12 preserves, bringing its total holdings
to nearly 10,000 acres.
Two new acquisitions are in Rutland Township in the far
northern part of the county. Sitting on the rolling kettles,
drumlins, and kames of the Marengo Moraine, a new 300-acre
acquisition is on the flood plain of the Kishwaukee River
that was created by the moraine’s overflow. It connects
the Meagher Preserve with Freeman Kame. Linking these two
has created a mile-long expanse of more than 450 acres.
The majority of this new $4 million holding was purchased
from a landowner who leased it to a hunt club and a farmer.
In the midst of the fields lies an extremely high quality
fen and a significant sedge community where state biologists
have found such rare plants as rush aster, bog and hoary
willow, and cottongrass.
South of this, on the lower lying glacial outwash plain,
is the new 396-acre Pingree Grove Marsh. Seen from Route
20, it appears to be a nondescript strip of land, but conservationists
knew its ecological value, and when the scion of the holding
family died, his heirs sold it for $3.9 million.
Situated on the Tyler Creek head-waters, the site contains
marsh, fen, sedge meadows, and woods. Although farmed for
many years, only 40 percent of the land was suitable for
agriculture. With 60 percent used for pasture, a degraded
oak hickory woods hung on, as well as a sedge meadow and
an emergent marsh.
What makes Pingree Marsh such a stellar acquisition is the
assemblage of birds that gather in the wetlands: sandhill
cranes, great blue herons, black-crowned night-herons, common
moorhens, yellow-headed blackbirds, and American bitterns.
Bird monitors have noticed a growing number of sandhill
cranes returning to Kane County, and some are nesting at
— Elizabeth Riotto
Riffles to Improve Habitat
Village of Northbrook is constructing a series of riffles
and pools in the West Fork of the North Branch of the Chicago
River that will improve water quality, habitat, and aesthetics.
This innovative project was designed by scientists at the
University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and is part of
a broader effort by Northbrook to make improvements to a
2,000-foot stretch of the West Fork within the village’s
central business district. “The $2 million project by the
village is designed to address serious bank erosion and
failing outfalls along the river,” said Jim Reynolds, village
public works director.
According to University of Illinois scientist Bruce Rhoads,
“the pools and riffles aerate the stream, provide better
habitat for fish and insects that live in the stream environment,
and provide an aesthetically pleasing visual amenity and
sounds.” Other stream improvements include removal of nonnative
trees and brush, replacing them with deep-rooted native
plants to support the streambank, stabilizing the toe of
the stream with attractive boulders, and installing stormwater
treatment devices in adjacent parking lots that filter runoff
before it enters the stream.
Funding for the pools and riffles and for the stormwater
filtering devices was provided in part by Illinois EPA 319
grant funds that are being administered through the North
Branch Watershed Project, a cooperative project managed
by Friends of the Chicago River and the Lake County Stormwater
Creates A Trail Through Time
year, when the opportunity arose to acquire the last available
open space tract in Northbrook, residents approved the purchase
by 75 percent in a bond referendum. This year, thanks to
a $2 million State of Illinois Open Lands Grant, the Northbrook
Park District has begun the process of restoring 16 acres
of the newly acquired 66-acre Anetsberger property to its
native plant communities.
The Anetsberger site is bordered by the West Fork of the
North Branch of the Chicago River and includes a nine-hole
golf course, a small fishing pond, and agricultural fields.
Soil surveys indicate that wetlands and mesic prairie once
flourished in the fallow fields, and hydrological surveys
are underway to locate drain tiles. This past spring, staff
herbicided reed canary grass and burned the fields.
The Trail Through Time, a tribute to the natural and cultural
history of the land, is an educational component of the
Anetsberger master plan. The trail will begin at a wetland
boardwalk where visitors can observe ongoing water quality
studies. Through interpretative signage, they can learn
about frogs and other wetland residents. The Trail will
also include a council ring for visitors to gather and tell
stories and a re-creation of an Indian encampment illustrating
how the land supported the people who lived there. Julie
Hansen of the Northbrook Park District hopes to work with
local schools to raise beetles that feed on invasive purple
loosestrife as part of the park’s management plan.
The Anetsberger property is also adjacent to the Northbrook
Park District’s first foray into natural landscaping, Meadowhill
South Park. This park includes a wet prairie, and since
1995 it has been burned several times. According to Hansen,
“It’s been an amazing education for the Village, the children
and the neighbors. But, we’ve also been lucky to have the
Somme Woods forest preserve in our community. The many years
of successful restoration work done there have raised people’s
To get involved in Northbrook Park District restoration
projects, contact Hansen at (847) 291-2995.
— Alison Carney Brown
Ducks Rescued from Oil Spill
late August, 44 mallard ducks were found floundering in
oil at a Carol Stream apartment complex and taken to the
Willowbrook Nature Center in DuPage County for rehabilitation.
couldn’t fly because they were so loaded down with oil,”
says Sandy Woltman, a wildlife specialist at the center
who responded to the call. “Their first instinct is to get
the oil off, so they keep preening and that causes gastrointestinal
problems,” Woltman adds. “We want to flush it out of their
system and rehydrate them basically stabilize them.”
Since the ducks were no longer waterproof, they were kept
under a lamp to control their body temperature. Workers
and volunteers bathed the ducks in dish soap, used rags,
cotton, and gauze to completely rid the animals of the oil,
and then spent 30 minutes rinsing each duck. “You have to
rinse them initially until the water is beading off of them,”
Woltman says. Each duck took about an hour to clean.
They were monitored for the next week and a half, then banded
and released into forest preserves around DuPage County.
It is difficult to predict how many ducks will survive once
they are back in the wild.
A special agent with the Fish and Wildlife Service investigating
the cause of the oil spill found that an oil-based paint
had been washed down the sewer.
Glen Acts in the Interest of Nature
months after incorporation, the Village of Homer Glen is
working to fulfill its mission statement, part of which
reads, “We will strive to maintain open space, preserve
our unique rural character, and safeguard our natural resources.”
The village board is encouraging developers to protect trees
by incorporating them into their site planning and by protecting
them during construction. “We’ve been very encouraged by
the amount of cooperation,” says Village Trustee Margaret
Sabo, who points out the benefits to developers. “If they
can save what’s there, then they can save money on buying
The Village also declared September 29 to be “Homer Glen
Lands Day” in conjunction with National Public Lands Day,
which occurred on September 21.
In 1998 Homer Township became the third township in Illinois
to pass an open space referendum, and today the township
owns 220 acres of open space land. On October 22, the township
held a public hearing on the uses of three specific parcels
of that land and adopted a Homer Township Open Space Program
Mission Statement, submitted by Trustee Pam Meyers. The
statement allows for passive recreational uses of open space,
which includes ballparks, according to Meyers. But, she
adds, open space shouldn’t be used for active recreational
uses like an irrigated and lighted ballpark with 500-car
paved parking lot.
believe that the people of our township are really very
environmetally conscious,” says Meyers. “There has been
a loud and clear message from the people in the community.
People are attracted to the open space and rural characteristics
of Homer Township.”
—Shanna M. McGarry
Wildlife Preservation Fund is a voluntary, tax-deductible
contribution check-off option on the 1040 Illinois state
income tax return. Over the past 17 years donations to the
fund have totaled nearly $3.6 million. The funds have been
used to support more than 650 projects involving development
and management of habitat, species restoration initiatives,
data collection, scientific analysis, conservation education,
and technical assistance. “The projects funded by the Wildlife
Preservation Fund are examples of how the public’s support
for wildlife can pay big dividends today and for generations
to come,” said Brent Manning, director of the Illinois Department
of Natural Resources, in Outdoor Illinois.
Galerucella Beetles at Home
the 1950s pet poodles were a craze. Later it was gerbils.
the new millennium, your neighbor may be raising and releasing
thousands of Galerucella beetles to help save local wetlands
from invasive purple loosestrife.
Last spring, for the first time, Illinois Natural History
Survey (INHS) staff trained 16 homeowners to raise purple
loosestrife beetles. Collectively, the homeowners released
an estimated 200,000 beetles into their privately owned
wetlands. Individual homeowners each put between four and
48 plants into production, 256 in total, and soon, as one
participant put it, “Oh man, we got all these beetles!”
Stacy Miller, interpretive program coordinator at Volo Bog
State Natural Area, championed the program and even had
to turn people away. “We call it the bubble-up theory,”
quips Susan Post, research biologist with INHS. “Many of
the homeowners in this program have children who participated
in a (Chicago Wilderness funded) beetle rearing project
in their schools. They told their parents what they had
Homeowners are taught how to identify purple loosestrife,
dig up the roots, and transplant them into a pot. Once the
roots are potted, the plants are covered with a mesh bag
cage provided by INHS. When the plant grows big enough,
INHS sends 25-30 beetles, previously held in a cold-storage
system, to put on each plant. Within six-to-eight weeks
the next generation is produced. “We also teach participants
how to monitor their site from year to year after they release
beetles,” explains Dr. David Voegtlin, an entomologist with
the INHS Center for Economic Entomology. “They come to understand
the process of biological control. It’s a slow but powerful
Purple loosestrife was brought to this country from Europe
in the early 1800s. The attractive purple flowered plant
thrives in wetlands and quickly outcompetes native plants
displacing the wildlife that depends on them. Galerucella
beetles feed exclusively on the leaves and stems of purple
loosestrife, eventually killing the plant.
didn’t recognize what was happening in our cages,” shares
participant Jack Mommsen. “After five weeks, all the loosestrife
disappeared. The larvae ate it all. Then they turned into
adults. We had about 2,000 beetles in each cage.” Mommsen
lives in a Crystal Lake neighborhood that includes a 25-acre
wetland infested with purple loosestrife. “We put some of
the cages along the shore of the wetland and put signs up
there and around the neighborhood so people would know what
was going on,” Mommsen adds. “We hope more people get involved
in the program. Only a month after we released the beetles,
you could see that they were chewing on the leaves
it’s like they cut windows through the leaves.”
Since 1996, the INHS has released almost two million beetles
at 210 sites in the state. “People with small landholdings
can rear and release these beetles themselves,” encourages
Post. “It’s definitely worth doing.” Classroom workshops
on beetle rearing for teachers are scheduled on January
26 and February 2, 2002. Contact Susan Post at (217) 333-6659.
Homeowner training will be held on April 13 at Volo Bog.
Contact Stacy Miller at (815) 344-1294. For more information
about biological control of purple loosestrife, visit the
INHS Web site at http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/cbd/loosestrife/bcpl.html.
— Alison Carney Brown
Plans for Rollins Savanna
October 17, Lake County Forest Preserves officials celebrated
the start of improvements and the opening of a
temporary 3.5-mile grass trail at Rollins Savanna Forest
Preserve near Grayslake.
Rollins Savanna is Lake County’s second-largest forest preserve
with 1,225 uninterrupted acres. Scattered groves of majestic
oaks and wide-open prairies teem with wildflowers and native
grasses and wildlife. Habitat restoration and construction
of trails and other public access areas at Rollins Savanna,
funded by a voter-approved bond referendum, is scheduled
to begin this spring, with completion anticipated by fall
The 3.5-mile grass hiking trail is open for hiking now and
for cross-country skiing this winter. Snowmobiles will parallel
a small section of the trail as they pass through the preserve.
The temporary trail encircles a large open area and provides
excellent views of both upland and wetland wildlife habitat
Restoration of the oak woodland, savanna, prairie and wetland
communities will constitute the largest restoration effort
ever undertaken by the Lake County Forest Preserves.
For more information about the Rollins Savanna Forest Preserve,
call the Lake County Forest Preserves Planning Office at
Search for Herps
September 23rd, in rain that never stopped, 18 valiant souls
scoured Nelson Lake Marsh, west of Batavia, for anything
that hopped, slithered, or crawled. Led by volunteer leaders
from the Chicago Wilderness Habitat Project and the Forest
Preserve District of Kane County (FPDKC), the group discovered
a baby snapping turtle and the find of the day (despite
its being dead) a northern water snake.
years we’ve heard of water snakes at Nelson Lake Marsh,”
says Drew Ullberg, FPDKC restoration manager, “and in the
worst weather we finally stumbled upon one.”
Nelson Lake Marsh is a 650-acre nature preserve that includes
a Grade A fen and a large marsh. 290 plant species have
been documented here, as well as 140 bird and 38 butterfly
species. But little is known about the amphibians and reptiles.
“It’s nice to have more eyes helping to look,” Ullberg adds.
The extra eyes belong to citizen scientists. The group found
leopard, green, chorus and bull frogs, American toads, and
a dead tiger salamander.
were looking for the Massasauga rattlesnake as well,” Ullberg
notes. “It’s listed as endangered in Illinois, but there’s
suitable habitat at this site and we hear anecdotal reports,
but we haven’t documented one yet.”
The Habitat Project offers winter training sessions to learn
how to monitor Chicago Wilderness wildlife. For more information
call (847) 965-1150 or visit www.habitatproject.org.
Benefit Kids and Nature
summer, the Illinois Conservation Foundation (ICF) awarded
14 grants totaling $52,750. These are the first awards from
a new program designed to encourage projects and educational
programs that preserve and enhance the natural resources
of the state.
In the Chicago Wilderness region, for instance, the Cary
Park District received $5,000 toward its Hillside Prairie
Park Restoration. The park’s rare gravel hill prairie is
flourishing, but “down-slope the soil is more mesic and
inundated with exotic species,” explains David Raica, director
of parks and planning. The eight-acre site, surrounded by
homes, provides a good opportunity for neighbor involvement
in restoration management. The park district hosts workdays
for local youth, scout, and civic groups. “The benefits
of passing on stewardship to the younger generation far
exceeds the time spent now,” Raica added. “It is our hope
that more open land will be preserved as people come to
understand the value of nature.”
Elsewhere, on a 1.9-acre unused corner grows another ICF-funded
project: the Evanston Township High School (ETHS) Environmental
Education Demonstration Project. Biology teacher Craig Smith’s
advanced placement environmental science students proposed
that the corner land be restored as a wetland with an upland
prairie buffer when they found low topography, wetness and
hydric soils on the site. Teachers are already running transects
and soil studies on the demonstration site and horticulture
classes are germinating donated seeds.
For more information on the grant program and applications
for the next round of grants, contact the Illinois Conservation
Foundation at (312) 814-7237 or visit http://www.ilcf.org.
— Alison Carney Brown
Planners Work on Land Use for the Region
late October, more than 800 people gathered on a Saturday
morning to help develop a new land use plan for the greater
Chicago region. The regional forum was sponsored by the
Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission as part of a three-year
initiative that will result in a “Regional Vision” and provide
the basis for the development of the Comprehensive Regional
Plan for the next 30 years and beyond. Participants, with
a diversity of voices, came from all over the region.
In the morning’s forum, participants sought to identify
the top 11 challenges facing the region (from a list of
57 generated at previous workshops). The top challenge,
it turned out, was how to place jobs and housing closer
together. Third on the list was protecting the environment.
Issues identified for future discussion and action were:
access to education; balanced economy and environment; balanced
growth; education funding; environmental protection; health
care; affordable housing; intergovernmental cooperation;
jobs and housing; livable communities; and public safety.
In the afternoon, participants divided into groups focusing
on five issue areas economic development, community
development, environment and natural resources, transportation
and infrastructure, and quality of life. All groups came
to one conclusion: none of the issues are isolated. Community
development could not be discussed without considering transportation
challenges, and the environment and natural resources are
interdependent with economic development.
The next step in the process will be a series of six monthly
issue discussions throughout the region. These discussions
are an opportunity to shape the future of the region, and
everyone is invited. To get more information or to download
a copy of “A Report on Subregional Workshops,” describing
the 12 public Common Ground workshops held in 2001, visit
— Steve Frankel
Repair Produces Surprises
Courtesy PACE Suburban Bus Service
downtown Elgin sewer in urgent need of repair led to the
temporary damming of a 130 x 60 foot channel of the Fox
River and the relocation of a surprising variety of aquatic
species. “I used to see the Fox as a murky brown, tired,
and abused old river that nothing good could live in,” observes
David Szaflarski, environmental affairs coordinator at PACE
Suburban Bus Service. “Was I wrong.”
A failed sewer line that lay below the river at the PACE
Elgin Transportation Center bus terminal had to be replaced.
So the Army Corps of Engineers directed PACE to work with
the Kane-DuPage County Soil & Conservation District,
the State of Illinois, and the Department of Natural Resources
to relocate all the riverbed critters. When water was drained
from the channel, relocation experts found a variety of
freshwater mussels and snails, as well as flat head minnow,
blue gill, Johnny darter, black and brown bullheads, crayfish,
channel catfish, freshwater drum, white crappie, white sucker,
and Northern hog sucker. There were whopping finds as well:
a 3.5 pound largemouth bass, a 1 pound walleye and a 3.5
pound common carp.
were surprised to find that many fish and that much variety,
especially the walleye and white crappie,” notes John Cortell,
aquatic biologist with Marine Biochemists, in charge of
the relocation project. “These species are commonly found
in the Fox, but to find such a healthy fish population in
such a small sample site in an urbanized area is surprising.
The water must be good quality to sustain those fish populations.”
All mussels, crayfish, snails, and fish were all released
within 100 yards of the cofferdam.
— Alison Carney Brown
Nile Virus Early-Detection System
May 2001 the Lincoln Park Zoo and the city of Chicago developed
an early-detection system for West Nile virus and the zoo
hosted a meeting of organizations from across the country
to coordinate a national surveillance plan.
So when the U.S. Geological Survey reported on September
5 that two dead crows found in Chicago suburbs tested positive
for the West Nile Virus (WNV), the Zoo was ready. West Nile
virus has been moving across the country since it was first
discovered in New York in 1999. Infected birds spread the
disease to mosquitoes feeding on them, and the insect can
then infect animals and humans. While the effect of WNV
on native species is still being researched, the virus poses
little threat to humans. Less than one percent of people
infected by a mosquito bite become severely ill and less
than one percent of mosquitoes in areas where the virus
has spread are actually infected.
WNV spreads across the country rapidly during bird migration
season. In 2001 alone, infected species were found in 11
new states. To date in Illinois, 12 crows, two blue jays,
eight insects and one horse have been confirmed with the
disease by the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife
Center in Madison, Wisconsin.
Illinois citizens can assist in the surveillance of WNV
by reporting sick or dead crows, blue jays, and raptors
to their local health departments. Local agencies collect
the birds for lab analysis and report results to the Illinois
Department of Health.
Grants to Help Nature
fall, Illinois Governor George Ryan announced more than
$7 million in grants to 34 local private-public partnerships
for natural resource protection projects under the Illinois
Conservation 2000 program.
citizens and private property owners working together are
the keys to the success of Conservation 2000,” Ryan says.
Partnerships match state funding with $9.8 million in cash,
in-kind and other contributions, boosting the value of the
projects to nearly $17 million. “With this funding, more
than 18,660 acres of habitat will be improved and more than
1,300 acres will be protected either through conservation
easements or acquisition,” Ryan added. “In addition, more
than one million trees will be planted to reforest about
Among the C2000 grant recipients in the Chicago Wilderness
region, The Nature Conservancy received $49,105 for habitat
and restoration at Indian Boundary Prairies. At Gensburg
Markham Prairie South, approximately 12 acres of mesic and
sedge meadow/wet prairie plant communities will be restored.
The Fox Valley Land Foundation received $50,496 to acquire
a conservation easement on a 3.5-acre tract of land south
of Barrington Hills adjacent to both Helm Woods Nature Preserve
and a Carpentersville site harboring the federally-endangered
white fringed orchid.
The Openlands Project received $45,500 to develop a Kishwaukee
River Strategic Plan for Habitat Conservation and Restoration.
The I & M Canal National Heritage Corridor Civic Center
Authority received $81,600 for the Santa Fe Prairie Vegetative
and Hydrological Restoration.
The McHenry County Defenders received $18,650 toward the
Kishwaukee Sustainable Development Guide a booklet
that will be produced and distributed to 27 public agencies
to help raise awareness of the high quality natural resources
of the Kishwaukee watershed.
The Wetlands Initiative received $44,776 toward enhancing
the aquatic habitat of the lower Des Plaines River. Benthic
mesh will be installed in an old borrow pit connected to
the river in Waterfall Glen Nature Preserve of DuPage County.
Fish populations will be monitored for the next two years
and a final report published at the conclusion of the study.
Northeastern Illinois University received $20,000 for the
project to gauge restoration success using insects. Insect
surveys will be conducted within five prairie remnants and
the Midewin Grasslands. Aerial nets, sweep nets, vacuum
collecting devices, black lights, and funnel-type light
traps will be used to collect the insects.
Abbott Laboratories and BP Amoco Chemical also received
C2000 grants for restoration projects on corporate campuses.
Abbott Labs received $15,056 for the Prairie Parklands Partnership
project studying how riparian restoration aids endangered
orchids and reduces site erosion. Workers will clear woody
brush and selected trees, herbicide stumps, stabilize any
barren ground with short-lived native vegetation, hand pollinate
orchids, and distribute a portion of orchid seed. BP Amoco
Chemical in Will County received $8,500 for its prairie
restoration and outreach project.
Trends in Illinois Ecosystems
million acres, covering almost one-fifth of the state, have
been identified as Resource Rich by the Illinois Department
of Natural Resources in Critical Trends in Illinois Ecosystems,
a report published earlier this year. Five of the 30 Resource
Rich Areas are in Chicago Wilderness’ Fox and Des Plaines
watershed: Thorn Creek, Des Plaines River, DuPage River,
Chain O’Lakes-Fox River, Illinois Beach and Prairie Parklands.
The Fox River basin, the report notes, is one of the most
urban watersheds in the state, yet it has a rich flora including
102 plant species listed as state endangered or threatened
and two listed as federally threatened. The watershed has
63 miles of Biologically Significant Streams and 2,204 acres
of Biologically Significant Lakes.
Critical Trends Assessment Program (CTAP) scientists conducted
detailed biological inventories of 150 randomly selected
sites for each of four habitat types forests, streams,
wetlands and grasslands. Volunteers trained as “citizen
scientists” by the Illinois EcoWatch Network carried out
less detailed biological surveys at several hundred forest
and stream sites.
Pete Jackson, EcoWatch program coordinator, said that more
than seven hundred volunteers were active in the Chicago
Wilderness region. He credited the volunteer teams with
“providing valuable data that will inform land management
in the years ahead.”
Of the 1,340 total shrub stems recorded by ForestWatch volunteers
in the Fox and Des Plaines Rivers watersheds, 74 percent
In general, statewide CTAP findings call for avoiding habitat
fragmentation; intensive vegetation management where degradation
is severe; restoring native vegetation along streams; and
setting prescribed fires to maintain ecosystems and diversity.
Copies of “Critical Trends in Illinois Ecosystems” are available
by contacting the DNR Publications Clearinghouse at (217)
524-0500 or by visiting http://www.dnr.state.il.us/orep/ctap2.
on a Roll
conducting a routine aquatic surveillance at Sherman Park
on the city’s south side this past summer, my colleague,
Wilfredo Matamoros, and I were surprised to discover the
presence of the freshwater jellyfish. All of a sudden we
saw hundreds of freshwater jellyfish (Craspedacusta sowerbii)
floating majestically like candy wrappers caught in an up-draft.
This was the first such occurrence of its kind in Chicago,
and the fifth recorded sighting in the state of Illinois.
Sherman Park was designed as part of a collaboration between
Daniel Burnham and Fredrick Olmstead, Jr. They integrated
water into the 60-acre landscape by creating an 11-acre
lagoon fed by urban runoff and city water. The park is surrounded
on all sides by residential and commercial development.
The freshwater jellyfish, like its marine cousin, is bell
shaped and resembles an umbrella. The medusa (free floating
stage) is the size of a quarter when fully grown. Fifty
to 500 tentacles that vary in size hang freely from its
circular edge. Tentacles stabilize the medusa in the water
column, and they are equipped with stinging cells that are
used to capture prey. The jellyfish usually feeds on small
invertebrates that inhabit the aquatic environment. The
jellyfish propels itself forward by expelling water from
its domed body cavity and floats gracefully atop its victims.
Possessing 60-100 or more eyespots, freshwater jellyfish
can migrate up and down in the water column in response
to light or other environmental factors.
Freshwater jellyfish have a complicated life cycle that
includes both sexual and asexual reproduction. The life
cycle begins when sexually mature adult jellyfish (male
and female medusas) release their sperm and eggs into the
surrounding waters. The fertilized eggs develop into free
swimming larvae, which eventually settle on the bottom to
form an attached polyp. The polyps feed on microscopic organisms
and can subsequently develop into one of three different
life forms: a crawling larvae called a frustule, a new medusa,
or a second attached polyp. Polyps that bud but keep their
attachment form a colony.
During the winter the polyps contract and become “resting
bodies” that are capable of surviving cold temperatures.
These resting bodies – called podocysts – are one of the
ways that researchers believe jellyfish are transported
between waterbodies. The podocysts may “hitch a ride” with
waterfowl, aquatic plants, or aquatic animals. When conditions
are right the podocysts develop into new polyps.
The actual occurrence of the medusa stage is sporadic and
unpredictable. Scientists did not realize until 1924 that
these various stages belonged to the same organism.
You’ll find more information at http://www.shade.grove.iup.edu/~tpeard/JELLYFISH.HTMLX
Christopher Ryan, Integrated Lakes Managemen