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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A Day in the Life of a Hummingbird

Grab a passport and see the world through the eyes of our region’s tiniest bird.   Our annual Hummingbird Festival takes place Saturday, August 16 at Sagawau Environmental Learning Center near Lemont. The fest runs from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm and is packed with self-guided activities, games, arts and crafts and new learning experiences.   Upon arrival, you will receive a passport to migrate as a ruby-throated hummingbird (also called hummers). This passport will guide you through a total of seven stations, each one shedding light on the life and migration of your hummingbird.

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Surprise on the Line: Reeling in an Eel

On an ordinary morning, an ordinary fisherman (with an ordinary hook and line) caught an extraordinary fish. This approximately 30 inch, four to five pound American eel found in Orland Park’s Tampier Lake is only the third eel discovered in Forest Preserves waters in the last 30 years.   A rare find, but the truly amazing part of this story is how it may have traveled here.  

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Did You Know? That Orange Leafless Plant on the Prairie is Rope Dodder

Rope dodder, Cuscuta glomerata, is an unusual looking parasitic plant that will soon bloom in moist prairies throughout our preserve system. This plant develops roots as a seedling, but once its minute suckers attach to a host plant, the lower portion (including the roots) withers away.   Rope dodder looks like bright orange spaghetti; it is essentially leafless and completely reliant on its host plant for energy. It is frequently found in prairies, especially after a prescribed burn. Ecologists suspect that seed germination may be stimulated by fire.

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