Blog

Internships cultivate conservation

by Forest Preserves President Toni Preckwinkle   Most of us think of the Forest Preserves as a place for discovery, exercise and rejuvenation. But the Forest Preserves provides many other resources to Cook County residents. Some are not obvious to the general public, yet provide direct and long-lasting community benefits. Our paid internship program is a prime example.   The Forest Preserves funds more than 30 paid internships each year, both directly and through partners. Through our diverse programs, Cook County residents—students, young professionals and career changers—can develop critical professional and life skills.   Several intern positions are now open, many with applications due in early to mid-April, and more to come.

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Did You Know? That hopeful little blue flower in suburban neighborhoods is Siberian squill

One of the early spring flowers to gladden the hearts of Cook County residents is Siberian squill, Scilla sibirica. Its small, blue, six-parted flowers blanket many shaded suburban yards throughout April, particularly in areas of open soil without competition from other plants.   Introduced from Europe and Asia, this short, fragrant plant can be found at a low level in Cook County forest preserves such as Chicago’s Dan Ryan Woods. It’s common on sites where old homes once stood. Though Siberian squill is common in Cook County, ours is one of only a few Illinois counties where it occurs.   According to Forest Preserve ecologists, squill doesn’t tend to spread aggressively. In Perkins Woods in Evanston, the plant has spread into areas where garlic mustard, a truly aggressive nonnative plant, has been removed. But in most places where it grows, it’s a quiet, well-behaved and bright touch to April in the suburbs.

Try This: Cast your line for trout

Trout fishing returns to the Forest Preserves of Cook County   Although not native to our region, rainbow trout are favored by anglers for their bright color and moist, flaky meat. With the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Forest Preserves stocks four lakes with more than 3700 pounds of trout each spring and fall. This spring’s stocked lakes are Axehead Lake in Park Ridge, Belleau Lake in Des Plaines, Green Lake in Calumet City, and special this year, Horsetail Lake in Palos Park. The spring season opens at dawn on April 5—so get ready to cast a line!   Learn more about spring stocking here, and check out our Fishing Guide for more on fishing in the Forest Preserves.

Birdhouse Contest Now Open

Welcome to Crabtree Nature Center’s first birdhouse building contest! The purpose of this contest is to highlight the need for nesting sites for birds and showcase your creativity. Houses will be built by registered participants, displayed throughout the summer and voted on by visitors.  Prizes will be awarded in September. View the contest flyer here.

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Hop on the Nature Express

Bus offers free transportation from Forest Preserves headquarters to special events.   Don’t have a car or just want to leave yours behind? New this year, the Forest Preserves will be offering a free bus from Forest Preserves headquarters in River Forest (536 N. Harlem Avenue) to select programs in the preserves, including the Rolling Knolls Forest Fun Day in Elgin on April 5 and the Nature Block Party at Eggers Grove in far southeast Chicago on May 17.

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