Winter 2022 Conservationist

News & Notes

Your Tax Dollars at Work in Nature

flowers, grasses and trees growing in a healthy savanna

This winter the Forest Preserve District will start work to restore 31 acres of woodland habitat at Hickory Grove, 87 at Egermann Woods, 550 at Herrick Lake, and 72 at Waterfall Glen, all designed to further the agency’s mission to preserve the flora, fauna, and scenic beauty of DuPage natural areas.

Invasive and exotic species are keeping sun and water from reaching the grasses, wildflowers, and oak and hickory seedlings that grow at these sites. As a result, the variety of plants and animals that live there is declining.

Crews will cut invasive trees and shrubs and conduct beneficial prescription burns. The mature hickories and majestic oaks will remain untouched, promoting further germination of young seedlings.

Because these projects require construction crews with heavy equipment, for visitors’ safety the restoration areas, including some trails, may periodically close during winter. For certain activities, only Forest Preserve District employees and contractors will be allowed in the area. The District will post signs to let visitors know when this occurs and expects the bulk of all four projects to be completed by December 2024.

 

More Good News for Endangered Dragonflies

a Hine's emerald dragonfly on a blade of grass

For six years the Forest Preserve District has been raising federally endangered Hine’s emerald dragonflies at the Urban Stream Research Center at Blackwell. The center’s efforts focus on DuPage, but its ecologists also collaborate with outside agencies to boost populations of these nationally rare insects.

Recently, the Urban Stream Research Center received 101 larvae from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Genoa National Fish Hatchery in Wisconsin. The dragonflies started out at the hatchery but needed a place to overwinter. These insects will join the 30 larvae and 1,000 eggs already housed at the center. The District also assisted the transfer of 100 eggs from the center to the Jake Wolf Memorial Fish Hatchery in Topeka, Illinois, which recently joined the partnership to raise Hine’s emeralds.

In other news, the University of South Dakota, another partner organization, received a Recovery Challenge Grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, highlighting the importance of boosting Hine’s emerald dragonfly numbers by providing much-needed resources to the rearing efforts at the Urban Stream Research Center. Image Greg Lasley/Shutterstock.com

 

Let's "Rays" a Cleaner Tomorrow

a ray of solar panels

For more than 100 years the Forest Preserve District has restored prairies, woodlands, and wetlands to create sustainable landscapes in DuPage.

Today, we’re adopting new operational strategies to further support the environment.

To start, we’ve created a fleet of vehicles and equipment (including tractors and lawn mowers) that use alternative fuels or hybrid technology. This has lowered fuel expenditures, reduced tailpipe emissions, and lengthened the lifespan of our equipment. But that’s not enough.

With a pledge from gracious donors, we’re also installing a solar array on the fleet management building at Blackwell Forest Preserve. The 330-kilowatt array will be capable of producing 384 megawatt hours of electricity a year, offsetting 100% of the building’s electrical-energy consumption. It will not only save taxpayers an estimated $22,000 annually but also reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 272 metric tons of carbon dioxide. (We’ll also sell back an additional 29,000 kilowatt hours to ComEd annually with its net-metering program.)

Our goal is to get to “net zero,” but we can’t get there alone. We need your help to get this building and others like it to generate as much energy as they consume.
That’s why we’ve created the green-energy endowment fund to help implement conservation efforts at the fleet building and similar structures. To find out how you can be a part of this bright future, visit dupageforest.org/solar-project-campaign.

 

Annual Permits on Sale

a dog's paw resting on a computer keyboard

Annual permits for private boating, stand-up paddleboarding, archery, off-leash dog areas, and model crafts are now on sale online.

Although we encourage you to get permits online or over the phone through Visitor Services at 630-933-7248 you can also purchase them at District headquarters, 3S580 Naperville Road in Wheaton, Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Dog lovers can buy off-leash permits at Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st St. in Oak Brook, Monday – Friday noon – 3 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Note, however, that you must wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth when inside any District building.

 

Board of Commissioners 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.

 

Easier Access for Fans of Waterfall Glen

schematic of the future parking lot at Waterfall Glen

A new lot in southeast Waterfall Glen near the Rocky Glen waterfall area and the intersection of Cass Avenue and Bluff Road will bring much-needed parking relief and improved safety for forest preserve visitors.

The 2019 certified master-plan project will add parking for 175 cars, create a 0.3-acre picnic area, allow for future flush restrooms, improve trail access, and reduce many traffic conflicts near the popular intersection.

The design will be in tandem with ongoing natural resource restoration work, which will minimize disruptions to the preserve, improve public safety, and enhance the overall visitor experience.

The Forest Preserve District anticipates to open the lot by the last week of October 2022.

 

Collections Corner

coyote and owl mounts on display at Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center

At Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center you’ll see a series of mounts — birds, a coyote, an American mink — that offer a look at some of the native animals that live in the preserves but may be rarely seen. But like other assets in the Forest Preserve District’s collection they require care and maintenance to keep them from naturally degrading.

Taxidermy cleaning is a careful and delicate process that takes a lot of time and patience (and more than just a dust rag). To protect the mount and the person cleaning it, it’s important for the handler to always wear gloves. Older mounts made in the ‘80s and earlier used toxic chemicals in the tanning process, and oils from human hands can damage fur or feathers.

A special HEPA vacuum with a control for the suction gently removes dust and other fine particles. A Q-tip dipped in ammonia-free glass cleaner removes elements from glass eyes and birds’ feet.

To view these remarkable pieces and other natural-history-related exhibits, plan a visit to Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center. It’s open Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and is closed on Sundays and select holidays. And to find out more about the Forest Preserve District’s efforts to preserve its entire diverse catalog of artifacts, check out “Collections Corner” in upcoming issues of The Conservationist..

 

Give Your Valentine the Gift of Nature

Forest Preserve District gift card next to a felt heart

Looking for a gift for that special someone who has everything? Then get them a Forest Preserve District gift card!

Cards can pay for programs and camps; picnic shelters and campsites; canoe, kayak, and boat rentals; and cool Forest Preserve District swag. You can buy cards through Visitor Services at 630-933-7248 or forest@dupageforest.org.

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

 

Many Thanks

snowy winter trail

The Forest Preserve District thanks the donors who contributed to its efforts Sept. 1 – Oct. 31. 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
Wheaton Garden Club
$1,250 — Willowbrook Wildlife Center

Keith Tomes
$1,000 — Willowbrook Wildlife Center

Ellen Alkeno Wier
$1,000 — Willowbrook Wildlife Center in honor of Luna, Neptune, and Juno

Gifts of Note to the Friends of the Forest Preserve District
Margaret Riordan
$3,800 — Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve in memory of John P. Carney

Ellen Alkeno Wier
$1,000 — Willowbrook Wildlife Center Adopt an Animal

Family of Ken and Ann Morgan
$750 — Herrick Lake Forest Preserve

Draus Family
$500 — Willowbrook Wildlife Center in memory of Daniel Motel

Matthew Kaefer
$500 — Greatest Needs

David Nienke
$500 — Greatest Needs

November Pandolfi
$500 — A Night for Nature

Wheaton Lions Club
$500 — A Night for Nature Duck Race