Fall 2020 Conservationist

News & Notes

Bridge Improvements Coming to Hidden Lake

hidden-lake-bridge

The Forest Preserve District plans to replace a bridge at Round Meadow Lake at Hidden Lake in Downers Grove with a 14-foot-wide steel truss prefabricated structure similar to ones installed at Mallard Lake, St. James Farm and Blackwell. It is also going to rebuild a historic 1870s bridge that crosses the East Branch DuPage River and connects the north half of the preserve to Eagle Lake.

During construction at both bridges, the Eagle Lake portion of the preserve will be closed, and there will be periodic disruptions to the trail around Round Meadow Lake.

Work is expected to begin in summer 2021 and finish by the end of the year. Both bridges are certified projects on the Forest Preserve District’s master plan.

 

Board of Commissioners Meetings

board-meetings

For the safety of visitors as well as staff, until further notice, all Board of Commissioners meetings will be online only. You can link directly to live streaming video from the Forest Preserve District’s Facebook page at facebook.com/dupageforest and from dupageforest.org.

Details on how to submit public comments or watch recordings of previous meetings and links to agendas and minutes are under “Our Board.”

Normally, commission meetings are at 8 a.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of the month; planning sessions, 8 a.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays. At both the board hears public comments and staff reports, discusses business, and votes on agenda items..

 

District Celebrates Milestone Turtle Release

blandings-turtle

For 25 years the Forest Preserve District has been collecting female state-endangered Blanding’s turtles in the wild, hatching their eggs in captivity, and then releasing the young after one to two years. The hope is these sheltered early years improve the juveniles’ chances of survival.

This summer, for the first time, the District and partner agency Brookfield Zoo released young hatched not only in captivity (this time at the zoo) but also from females raised in captivity themselves from eggs collected years earlier in a DuPage forest preserve. The District has supplied the zoo with Blanding’s for several years, but because it takes the turtles until their early teens to reach reproductive maturity, 2019 was the first year the zoo’s adult females could successfully lay fertile eggs.

It was a key release, too, because if these young have no surviving relatives in the wild, they may carry genetics not present in the preserves for over 20 years.

 

2021 Annual Permits on Sale Dec. 1

online-annual-permits

Annual permits for private boating, stand-up paddleboarding, archery, off-leash dog areas and model crafts go on sale Dec. 1 at dupageforest.org under “Registration & Permits.”

Permits will be available at the headquarters office at 3S580 Naperville Road in Wheaton, but to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 the Forest Preserve District is trying to keep the number of people who visit the office to a minimum. If possible, permit holders should make their purchases online.

Assistance is always available weekdays through Visitor Services at 630-933-7248.

 

Because Deer Don’t Look Both Ways

white-tailed-deer-crossing

A deer can run in front of your car anytime, but the risk goes up in fall, when these animals have one thing on their minds: finding mates. Because they’re not concerned about you, it’s up to you to watch for them.

  • Be careful at dawn and dusk, when deer are most active and visibility is poor. Odds are higher along woods, fields, fencerows and rivers.
  • Watch for deer-crossing signs. Agencies post them in areas that have had multiple accidents.
  • Slow down when approaching deer. They may bolt or quickly change direction without warning.
  • Deer often travel in groups, so if you see one, be ready for more.
  • Don’t swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid deer. Slow to a stop, wait and flash your headlights.
  • If you have passengers, make sure they’re on deer patrol, too.
  • If you hit a deer, don’t try to move it. Call law enforcement instead.

 

Mack Road Trail Coming to St. James Farm

st-james-farm-warbler-trail

The Forest Preserve District is adding a 0.5-mile east-west limestone and asphalt trail south of Mack Road at St. James Farm in Warrenville. The trail, open later this fall, will connect to the preserve’s main loop and will eventually link to county trails along Winfield Road and a future trail at Cantigny Park.

The $300,000 project was paid in part by a $200,000 Recreational Trails Program grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and funds from the St. James Farm endowment.

 

Dunham Trail Opens

dunham-trail

The Forest Preserve District recently celebrated the opening of a 1.2-mile trail, scenic overlook, 2-acre picnic area and 25-car parking lot at Dunham in Wayne. The trail provides the first public access to the 374-acre preserve, which features 212 acres of Class IV prairie and wetlands, some of the highest quality habitat in the county.

Funded in part by a $1.3 million grant from the Illinois Transportation Enhancements Program, the trail connects Dunham with a historic train depot in Wayne to the northeast and the Cornerstone Lake Park in West Chicago to the south.

 

Give the Gift of Nature

gift-card

Looking for a gift for that someone who has everything? Want an easy way to pay for DuPage forest preserve camps and programs? Then get a Forest Preserve District gift card!

Use the cards to pay for programs and camps; reserve picnic shelters and campsites; rent canoes, kayaks, or boats; or buy cool swag. You can buy cards through Visitor Services at 630-933-7248 or forest@dupageforest.org.

Interested in golf? Get gift cards good at all three Forest Preserve District courses at DuPageGolf.com.

 

Collections Corners

lithics

This past summer, while working on the new trail at Dunham in Wayne, construction workers and Forest Preserve District staff uncovered buried history: several cultural artifacts, including a stone projectile point.

Crews immediately halted their work, and the Forest Preserve District called in a team of Illinois archaeologists, who unearthed and identified a total of seven artifacts (some of which are pictured above) belonging to indigenous people from some time during the Early Archaic Period, which occurred 10,000 to 3,000 years ago.

Discoveries such as these remind us that although DuPage is a modern suburban community, the land has a rich past, and we should be prepared if we stumble upon traces of it. If you spot something in a forest preserve you think may have historical significance, photograph the item without moving it and share the location with us.

Artifacts deserve care and are protected by law, and only state-certified archaeologists can conduct digs on public property because, to paraphrase the immortal words of Indiana Jones, “They belong in a museum!”

 

X-Ray Equipment Aids Treatment at Willowbrook

willowbrook-x-ray

Staff at the Forest Preserve District’s Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn is now better able to diagnose and treat injured native wildlife thanks to new X-ray equipment purchased with an estate gift from a Glen Ellyn man.

With the previous system, wildlife handlers physically placed a plate under a patient, took the X-ray, removed the plate, and then inserted the plate into a developer, a process that took 30 to 60 seconds.

With the new system, the plate is permanently attached under the radiograph table, and the image is digitally generated in under 8 seconds. The time saved can make a difference to an animal under anesthesia, such as the herring gull above, which is being X-rayed for a broken leg bone.

The new radiography system also provides greater detail for small animals. This is important because the majority of Willowbrook Wildlife Center patients are under
5 pounds; some songbirds weigh only an ounce.

 

Every 100 Years Whether It Needs It or Not

mayslake-staircase

The staircase at historic Mayslake Hall at Mayslake Peabody Estate is receiving a much-needed face-lift.

Made of walnut and designed with band saws, the ornate 1920s staircase was assembled at a factory and installed in Mayslake Hall as a prominent entryway focal point. Now 100 years later, the original finish has dulled and must be removed.

Restorers are using wire brushes (no chemicals) to remove the finish and are then applying an oil-modified water-based finish. Because walnut darkens naturally when exposed to air, they’ll apply the satin-sheen finish lightly to reveal the natural color and carved detail of the wood, as shown above. Workers are also using historic restoration techniques to repair decorative details, such as the urns atop the newel posts.

The staircase restoration project began in August and should be completed by the end of the year, again making the entryway the hall’s focal point, just as F.S. Peabody intended.

 

Thank You From Danada (and Duke!)

danada-duke

Thanks to 95 generous donors, the Friends of the Forest Preserve District raised over $5,000 for the care of the Danada Equestrian Center’s new colt, Duke.

Each donor received a hand-drawn or -painted portrait of the young horse or (a Danada horse of choice), created by equestrian center volunteers and Forest Preserve District employees.

Staff learned Duke’s mother was pregnant during a pre-purchase exam, so the colt’s costs were not part of the center’s budget for the coming year.

 

Many Thanks 

The Forest Preserve District thanks the donors who contributed to its efforts between June 1 and Sept. 30. To learn how your financial support can benefit the District, visit dupageforest.org/friends. To give to the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Friends of the Forest Preserve District, visit dupageforestgiving.org/donate.

Gifts of Note
Judith Anderson
$1,000 – Willowbrook Wildlife Center

Theodore Utchen
$600 – Mayslake Peabody Estate

Gifts of Note to the Friends of the Forest Preserve District
Exelon
$5,000 – Willowbrook Wildlife Center

ComEd
$2,500 – Willowbrook Wildlife Center

The Family of Howie Linvlle
$1,500 – Land management in memory of Howie Linville

The McNaughton Family
$1,500 – Land management in memory of Jonathan Neidlinger

Paul Becker
$1,000 – Willowbrook Wildlife Center

Brenda Dorsey
$1,000 – St. James Farm

Donald and Suzan Panozzo
$1,000 – Danada Equestrian Center, Willowbrook Wildlife Center, Belleau Woods restoration and the Urban Stream Research Center

The Richard Laurence Parish Foundation
$1,000 – Greatest needs

Bruce and Martha Sanders
$1,000 – Willowbrook Wildlife Center

Friends of Danada
$500 – Danada Equestrian Center

John and Diane Fiore
$500 – Greatest needs

Karen DeToro
$500 – Mayslake Peabody Estate

Jacqueline Lindahl
$500 – Adopt a Blanding’s Turtle

Kathleen Murphy
$500 – Kline Creek Farm

Edmund Pereira
$500 – Willowbrook Wildlife Center

Ellen Wier
$500 – Willowbrook Wildlife Center