Preserves and Abandoned Pets an Unhealthy Mix

A pet store goldfish may not last long under the care of a young child, but it can often thrive in a local forest preserve pond. Goldfish are prolific reproducers and bottom feeders that can quickly disrupt an aquatic ecosystem.   Both state and county law prohibit residents from abandoning pets or releasing nuisance animals outside, but a variety of exotic species are still found in preserves each year. “A lot of people think they are setting these pets free to be in their natural environment. But the reality is, these animals don’t belong here,” said Forest Preserves fisheries biologist Steve Silic. “Animals purchased in pet stores typically are not native to this exact area, because it is illegal to sell wild, native animals in Illinois,” he explained.  

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Broken Refrigerator? Busted Hair Dryer? You Can Recycle That!

In an effort to keep unwanted appliances, electronics and other non-biodegradable objects out of landfills, the Forest Preserves of Cook County has designated two locations as all-inclusive recycling drop-off centers. Two southwest zone nature centers, Little Red Schoolhouse in Willow Springs and Sagawau Environmental Learning Center in Lemont, now have large-scale collection containers ready and waiting to accept your recyclable items.   And you can recycle a lot more than you think! Drop off your outdated or broken computer monitors, printers and peripherals; electronics such as phones and radios; and household appliances like hair dryers, irons and coffee makers. Even large appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers and stoves can be recycled. (Click here for a full list of accepted items).   The collection centers are located in the nature center parking lots and will maintain the same hours as the nature centers. The containers are unmanned; however, if you need assistance, please call the number posted on the container door and a nature center staff member can lend a hand.   Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center is located at 9800 Willow Springs Rd, Willow Springs. Sagawau Environmental Learning Center is located at 12545 W 111th St, Lemont.

Did You Know? Milkweed Hosts a Microhabitat

Monarch caterpillar on milkweed. Photo by Irene Flebbe. Milkweed plants (Asclepias sp.) of many species are now in bloom all around the Chicago region. If you observe these plants closely, you'll discover a microhabitat full of insects that depend on milkweed for their diet, reproduction and more.

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Centennial History Series: First Catch — Initial Fish & Water Management in the Forest Preserves

Fishing, ca. 1930s-1940s by Natalie Bump Vena   The Forest Preserve District’s early leaders viewed fishing as a key way to introduce urban residents to Cook County’s plentiful open land. But they faced some obstacles in bringing their vision to life. The streams that flowed through the holdings were polluted and the forest preserves lacked fishable ponds and lakes. In a series of projects aimed to protect public health and facilitate transportation, District administrators partnered with state and municipal governments to clean streams and create lakes in the forest preserves. Beginning in the late 1930s, District staff also received assistance from the Illinois Natural History Survey and the Illinois Department of Conservation to stock those bodies of water with desirable species of game fish.

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Youth Outdoor Ambassadors Program Preps Teens for the Future

How many teens does it take to plan and execute a 500 person event with canoeing, archery, art making and a zip line? Just six—if they are Youth Outdoor Ambassadors.   This new group of six teens, started with a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Management Program, aims to not only get teens outdoors, but to help them build the valuable skills they will need to succeed in the future.

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Visit two of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County