Enhancing Our Preserves for the Next 100 Years

If you’ve been out in the forest preserves lately, you may have encountered a sign that read: “Enhancing Our Preserves for the Next 100 Years.” As we celebrate our centennial, we are breaking ground on a number of projects throughout the preserves to help restore native ecosystems, enhance facilities and add exciting new possibilities.  

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Powwow Celebrates the Native Culture Thriving in Cook County

Before you are close enough to see the dance or smell the food, you hear the drum. At every powwow, the steady beat of the drum creates the “Heartbeat of Mother Earth” for dancers and visitors alike. This year’s 61st Annual Chicago Powwow, held September 13 and 14 at Busse Woods, will be no different.   The American Indian Center (AIC) holds powwows from spring to fall each year, but their Annual Chicago Powwow is their largest, celebrating more than 150 tribes from across the U.S. and Canada. The event, which drew over 10,000 people last year, features dance exhibitions and competitions, an arts and crafts marketplace and one of your only chances to sample Native American food in Illinois.  

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