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Have You Discovered Wolf Lake?

Sitting just over 15 miles from the heart of the Loop and straddling the Illinois-Indiana border, Wolf Lake is part of a network of recreation areas on Chicago’s south side. Over the years, Openlands has worked to expand the area’s trail system, which connects communities such as Hegewisch, South Deering and Whiting, and we encourage you to discover Wolf Lake for yourself!

The origin of the lake’s name is unknown, but local residents have offered a few theories: some believe that “Wolf” was a Native American chief while others contend that years ago the surrounding area was teeming with wolves. Neither of these claims have been verified, but they still offer an interesting look into the lake’s history.

Wolf Lake also lies in the heart of the Calumet region, a natural area of over 15,000 acres of river systems, parks, trails, rare dune and swale, and savanna. Openlands has focused on empowering community groups and local governments to care for the region’s natural resources. As we promote a regional culture of conservation, Openlands has helped to develop an interconnected network of protected greenways and trails and to restore public access to the region’s natural treasures.

The area around Wolf Lake is home to numerous open spaces, recreational opportunities, and cultural institutions, including two sites managed by the National Park Service. The area is easy to reach no matter where you’re coming from, and there is plenty to enjoy for an entire weekend.


Directions

To access the Wolf Lake trail system, we recommend parking either at Eggers Grove or Whiting Park. Eggers Grove can be accessed via the CTA 30 or 100 bus routes. Whiting Park in Indiana is a terrific way to bookmark the day as it sits on the shores of Lake Michigan while offering access to the Wolf Lake trail system. Both Eggers Grove and Whiting Park can be reached via US-Route 41.


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What can you do at Wolf Lake?

  • Biking, walking, and running: Wolf Lake boasts an impressive trail system surrounding the natural area, but be sure to venture across the boardwalk which bisects the lake. The famous Burnham Greenway runs along the western shore, connecting areas like Eggers Grove to William W. Powers State Recreation Area.
  • Paddling: The Hammond Port Authority facilitates rentals of canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, and paddle boards as well as oars and life vests. You can even try windsurfing!
  • Enjoy the open space: The trails at Wolf Lake connect a number of open space sites such as Calumet Park to the north end of the trail system to Powderhorn Marsh at the southern end.
  • Birding and Wildlife Viewing: The wetlands surrounding the lake are home to a variety of bird species such as gray catbirds, yellow-headed blackbirds, yellow warblers, marsh wrens, song sparrows, eastern kingbirds and red-eyed vireos, and it attracts many migratory birds as they pass over Lake Michigan.
  • Picnicking: Picnic areas are accessible throughout the trail system and surrounding parks, but certainly consider Wolf Lake Memorial Park on the eastern shore for some spectacular views.

Make a day or weekend of it!

  • Pullman National Monument: Pullman National Monument commemorates the diverse history of the American labor movement and sits in proximity to Wolf Lake. The site was designated as a national monument by President Obama in 2015. (P.S.: NPS typically waives admission fees to national monuments on federal holidays such as Memorial Day and Labor Day.)
  • Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore: The National Park Service also manages 15 miles of public lands on the south shore of Lake Michigan. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore offers opportunities to hit the beach, explore unique wetlands, hone your bird-watching skills and enjoy 50 miles of trails.
  • Pavilion at Wolf Lake Memorial Park: Sitting on the shores of Wolf Lake, the Pavilion is one of northwest Indiana’s best outdoor venues for concerts, films, and festivals, regularly hosting events in the summer months.
  • Big Marsh, Hegewisch Marsh and Beaubien Woods: These three sites offer excellent opportunities to get outside in the Chicago area as well. Big Marsh is home to the new mountain bike park – the only such park in the Chicago region. Hegewisch Marsh is part of the Calumet Open Space Reserve and one of the best birding spots nearby. Finally, Beaubien Woods is managed by the Forest Preserves of Cook County and offers paddling access to the Calumet River.
  • Discover! Learn about the different ecosystems found in the Wolf Lake area, enjoy the miles of trails and the day watching the sunset color the skies over Lake Michigan. If you’re a photographer or just an avid Instagramer, bring your camera or phone and share what you find at Wolf Lake! Tag your Instagram posts with #DiscoverYourPlace to be featured on our stream and please share with us the highlights from your adventure.
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Openlands Director of Regional Forestry Accepted into Civic Leadership Academy

Daniella Pereira, Openlands’ Director of Regional Forestry, has been accepted into the 2017 class of the Civic Leadership Academy at the University of Chicago. Pereira’s acceptance into the program serves as recognition of her expertise in forestry and her substantial work to connect residents of Chicago to their urban forest. Through education and engagement, Pereira hopes to raise greater awareness of the conservation issues that face our region.

“My personal goal is to connect more urban people to appreciating and stewarding green spaces in their communities,” says Pereira. “Unless a child is introduced to nature when they are young, it is difficult to appreciate nature, let alone advocate for it.”

Having joined Openlands in 2013, Daniella oversees the sustainable expansion of our Forestry programs, creates and strengthens strategic partnerships, collaborates on urban forestry policy both locally and with the State’s Urban Forestry Committee, and leads Openlands’ role in the Chicago Region Trees Initiative.


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The Civic Leadership Academy is an interdisciplinary leadership development program for emerging and high-potential leaders in nonprofit organizations and local government agencies within the City of Chicago and Cook County. The highly selective program, which accepted only 30 of 150 applicants in 2017, is designed to develop a pipeline of talented leaders to help nonprofits and government agencies thrive. Pereira’s involvement with the program will examine the best ways to engage local leaders with residents and how to best leverage the city’s resources in care of the urban forest.

“If people find value in being outside, they will be open to stewarding green space as part of their civic duty,” adds Pereira. “The conduit that I would like to make is giving missed outdoor opportunities to adults by creating positive environmental policy that stimulates good-paying, green jobs and training. Investing in people can connect them to valuing nature.”

Learn more about Openlands urban forestry work.

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Have You Discovered Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary?

Sitting quietly on the shores of Lake Michigan, Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary – the Magic Hedge – is home to a vast array of bird species. As of January, 2017 over 320 species of birds have been identified at Montrose Point. Illinois Birders Exchanging Thoughts recently voted the sanctuary as the best place for birding in Illinois, and one could argue that this is one of the top birding locations in the entire Great Lakes region.

Situated along the border of the Mississippi and Atlantic Flyway, the Great Lakes region is immensely important for migratory birds. Forests, grasslands, wetlands, and open water provide stopover points for these birds during their semi-annual journeys that, for some species, span across continents. There are many of these stop-over points within Chicago’s city limits – Jackson Park, Humboldt Park, Lake Calumet and Labagh Woods are especially active during spring and fall migration – but Montrose Point is one that stands above the rest.

A bird sanctuary that jets out into Lake Michigan serves is a funnel for birds as they travel over Lake Michigan, looking for green space that is somewhat sparse in our area. Bird lovers were the ones who gave Montrose Point the Magic Hedge nickname and for good reason. This sanctuary truly is a gem and worth discovering for yourself.

Here are just a few of the many bird species Openlanders have seen at Magic Hedge:


Directions

Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary is located at 4400 N Simonds Drive in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Visitors can use the Wilson Ave or Montrose Ave exits from Lakeshore Drive, and it is accessible from the Wilson stop on the CTA Red or Purple Lines.

What can you do at Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary?

  • Birding: obviously. Birds venture to the Magic Hedge year-round and if you are interested, you can contribute to a community bird count. Be sure to bring a camera or binoculars because you won’t want to miss the colors! Spring is an excellent time to visit for birding.
  • Biking, running, and trails: Montrose Point sits on the Lakefront Trail, offering easy access for recreation. Intrepid bikers might consider the 9-mile trip south to Northerly Island – another excellent birding location in Chicago.
  • Montrose Beach: the Magic Hedge is adjacent to Montrose Beach, which operated by the Chicago Park District. If you want to make a day of your trip to the lakefront, pack a lunch and enjoy the beach. Beach season will run from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend in 2017.
  • Golfing: the Chicago Park District maintains the nearby Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course, which sits directly on the lakefront and is open to the public year-round. It is also an Audubon International certified bird sanctuary.
  • Volunteer: Openlands’ Birds in my Neighborhood® program brings students from Chicago Public Schools to the Magic Hedge, and we need passionate nature-lovers to assist with field trips and share these experiences!
  • Discover!  Visit the Magic Hedge and see which birds you can spy. If you’re a photographer or just an avid Instagramer, bring your camera or phone and show the world the mosaic of purples, yellows and blues! Tag your Instagram posts with #DiscoverYourPlace to be featured on our stream and please share with us the highlights from your adventure.
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The Essential Role of Pollinators

Pollinator species – such as bees, butterflies, bats, and birds – may be small, but they play massive roles in our lives every day. From assisting in food production to providing ecological services, pollinators are central to many critical processes in the environment. Increased threats posed by habitat loss, disease, and climate change have contributed to the global decline of many pollinator species and made pollinator conservation all the more important.

Nearly all the plants in the world need to be pollinated in order to reproduce effectively, and pollinators assist in this among over 80% of the world’s flowering plants. These plants, in turn, sequester and store carbon by absorbing CO2, the second most abundant greenhouse gas. They improve air quality and can help filter clean water. The United States grows more than 100 crops that rely on or benefit from pollinators, which contribute an estimated $3 billion to the economy.


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In many cases, pollinators serve as keystone species, meaning they play an essential role in the foundations of an ecosystem. For instance, bumble bees pollinate fruit-bearing plants which not only support agriculture, but also provide the diet to numerous other species in a given ecosystem.

Despite their vital role, pollinators need conservation support. Climate change has imperiled half of all North American bird species and pollinator habitats are becoming fragmented or disappearing rapidly in the face of development. Excessive or careless use of pesticides can wipe out whole communities of pollinators.

Individual populations are at risk as well. North American populations of the monarch butterfly and the rusty patched bumble bee, for example, have experienced significant declines over the last 20 years, prompting the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to consider additional protection for these once-abundant species under the Endangered Species Act.

In Illinois alone, there are nearly 2,500 native pollinator species that support our flowering and food plant populations. Illinois also serves as an important migratory route for monarchs and other pollinators that need appropriate habitat to help them survive and reproduce as they travel.


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Openlands and ComEd recognize the importance of the many programs, partnerships, and individual actions that residents of Illinois are taking to conserve pollinators, support their habitat, and protect pollinator-dependent plants and food crops. As a response to this growing awareness, ComEd has announced a special focus on pollinator conservation for the 2017 cycle of the ComEd Green Region grants.

Green Region grants of up to $10,000 support open space projects that focus on planning, acquisition, and improvements to local parks, natural areas, and recreation resources. In the 2017 grants cycle, a funding pool will be designated for project applications that show a demonstrable benefit for pollinator conservation. Eligible applications for projects that meet regular Program Guidelines will still be accepted for consideration, regardless of whether they focus on pollinator conservation.

For more information on the grants program, please visit www.openlands.org/greenregion.

Photo (top): Brandon Hayes
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Volunteers Sow the Seeds of Hackmatack

In 2016, Openlands purchased the Perricone Tract in Woodstock, IL as part of our ongoing work in Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge. This 27-acre parcel contains remnant sedge meadow and a lovely meandering stretch of the Nippersink Creek. Openlands partnered with the Nippersink Watershed Association to protect the Perricone Tract and received a generous grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation to support the site’s acquisition and restoration.

Hackmatack was established as a permanent National Wildlife Refuge in 2012, but from the beginning, it has been a partnership of local communities and local governments working to bring the vision to life. Friends and neighbors came together to earn the federal designation, but now the real work of building the refuge acre-by-acre has begun.


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On the chilly morning of January 28, the Friends of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge hosted a seed planting workday on the Perricone Tract with the help of Openlands and the McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD). Volunteers spread 100 lbs of native prairie seed mix, kindly donated by FermiLab, along the site’s eastern edge, which will grow in to help restore this tract.

When restored, the landscapes protected at Hackmatack will once again offer a home to the mosaics of native plants and wildflowers, the mazes of pristine streams, and the rich variety of wildlife. Essential to Openlands’ vision is not just protecting these rare habitats, but also ensuring everyone can share in the nature at Hackmatack. Whether through participating in restoration days or by introducing best practices to support wildlife near their homes, the local residents are making great strides to restore this area for the benefit of all.

The seeding planting workday laid the foundation for more prairie restoration work in the coming spring, which will be led by our partners at MCCD and funded by our Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation grant. More importantly, it helped sow the seeds for future partnerships uniting around a shared vision for Hackmatack. Openlands thanks our volunteers for braving the cold weather and our sponsors who provide critical support for restoration!


Our next Hackmatack workday is February 19, 10am-1pm. We will be cleaning up trash and other debris on the Blackmon Tract, an open space site in the refuge boundaries that is owned by Openlands. The property features a wetland area and oak woodland ready to be restored. Wear clothes and shoes that can get dirty, and bring a pair of work gloves and your own drinking water. Workday will be held rain or shine but may be rescheduled if heavy snow is in the forecast. The site’s entrance driveway is located at 9613 N. Route 12, Richmond, IL on the west side of Route 12 across the McHenry County Conservation District’s Prairie Trail. Please note that there is no on-site parking; parking for this workday will be available at the Richmond Village Hall, 5601 Hunter Drive.

For more information, please contact acollins@openlands.org or call 312.863.6257.

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Chicago’s Urban Forest

Chicago’s urban forest is vital to the health and wellness of our city. Trees provide essential economic services, improve the quality of life for residents and wildlife, mitigate the threats of climate change to our region, and help to beautify our neighborhoods and parks. Preserving these community assets, however, requires constant attention, persistence, and investment.

There are over 3,500,000 trees in the City of Chicago, which capture harmful pollution and improve air quality. Pollution from coal- and gas-fired power plants and from industrial production has direct impacts on public health. In Illinois, asthma affects children at a disproportionate rate (13.6% versus the 8.6% national average), so every resource to improve air quality – particularly trees which capture volatile organic compounds – is essential.

Green areas serve the societal well-being of communities as well. Shaded parks can encourage increased recreation, decrease ultraviolet radiation levels, provide a sense of place, and create opportunity for green jobs through tree care. Additionally, tree-lined streets and green neighborhoods have demonstrated reductions in crime compared to similar, barren neighborhoods.

As our climate changes, Chicago’s forest will play a critical role in mitigating the effects. Trees sequester and store carbon by absorbing CO2, the second most abundant greenhouse gas. Climate change will likely result in increased average temperatures for Chicago, yet trees provide natural climate control by reducing surface temperatures around buildings, further allowing a reduction in energy consumption. We also face an increased need to better capture rain water and prevent flooding, and trees function as natural water storage systems.


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Pollution concentrates disproportionately in communities of color and climate change affects low-income neighborhoods first, and Chicago has not been immune to this reality. Neighborhoods across the south and west sides lack access to green space and recreation opportunities, they experience increased urban flooding, and their residents live in proximity to major polluters. To address this injustice, Openlands’ urban forestry programs have always worked with and for the city’s residents.

Openlands believes we must engage and communicate with local residents who benefit most directly from the trees in their neighborhood. Our TreePlanters Grants facilitate community tree plantings, bringing neighbors together in the community goal of healthy trees. Our urban forestry team, with assistance from our trained TreeKeepers volunteers, have planted over 3,800 trees across Chicago since 2013, and we continue to care for our arboreal treasures which enhance the vitality and beauty of our region.

As a lead partner of the Chicago Region Trees Initiative, Openlands works to create a healthier urban forest, which provides the region with improved environmental, economic, and social benefits. Since 2012, Openlands has led the creation and implementation of the Next Century Conservation Plan for the Forest Preserves of Cook County, which improves access to the forest preserves for residents and leverages the economic benefits of forest preserves for communities’ benefit.

An effective urban forestry program maintains a healthy and expanding canopy that provides maximized benefits to its residents. Openlands works to protect the natural treasures that balance and enrich our lives, including our region’s urban forest, and we recognize the need to engage residents in care of these assets. Through education and engagement, Openlands hopes to raise greater awareness of the conservation issues that face our region.

For more information on Openlands’ urban forestry work, please contact trees@openlands.org or call 312.863.6271.

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Have You Discovered Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie?

Illinois didn’t earn the nickname ‘the Prairie State’ for nothing, but it is no secret that our namesake has virtually disappeared from the natural landscape. Once home to over 20 million acres of prairie, Illinois now holds less than 2,500 acres. Yet if you are looking to experience the enormity of the prairie and glimpse the natural history of our state, look no further than Midewin.

As the largest open space in the Chicago region, the 19,000-acre Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is the first such protected tallgrass prairie in the country and it is managed today by the U.S. Forest Service. Midewin sits just an hour’s drive from downtown Chicago and began its journey to federal protection in the early 1990s when the U.S. Army announced plans to close the Joliet Arsenal.

The importance of Midewin cannot be overstated. Its expansiveness makes it ideal habitat for grassland birds; in addition to native prairite, it contains a variety of ecologically-significant habitats and natural areas; and in 2014 it became a new home for a herd of American bison. But Midewin was also envisioned as a place to connect the residents of Illinois to the nature that surrounds them.

Foresight and planning over the last 20 years coupled the restoration of a unique prairie ecosystem with unparalleled opportunities for outdoor recreation, wildlife viewing, environmental education, research, and volunteerism, which made Midewin a contemporary model process for the expansion of public open space. Here are a few options for you to enjoy these public lands, but certainly take a chance to discover Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in your own way.

Directions

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is located in Will County and sits on IL Route 53, just an hour’s drive from downtown Chicago. Additional directions can be found on the U.S. Forest Service website.


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What can you do at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie?

  • Bison Viewing: You are invited to view Midewin’s bison herd, but the herd grazes in a large pasture so we can’t guarantee you can get up-close-and-personal. We recommend you bring binoculars, just in case.
  • Biking, Hiking, and Running: Midewin boasts an expansive 22-mile trail system, 12 of which are for hiking only. We recommend starting at the the Iron Bridge Trailhead to view the bison via the Henslow Trail and to see former U.S. Army bunkers via the Route 63 Interim Trail. Cyclists can also make use of many of these trails. For more information, take a look at the current trail map.
  • Horseback Riding: Trails are shared between hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. The Henslow Trail is a crushed limestone screened trail, while most other trails are on old road beds. Horseback riders are welcome to enjoy the multi-use trails through the tallgrass prairie.
  • Birding and Wildlife Viewing: Midewin is home to 16 endangered and threatened species including the upland sandpiper. Swing by the Visitor Center located on Route 53 to learn about the best wildlife viewing areas.
  • Picnicking: Picnic areas are accessible throughout Midewin, but definitely consider the shady Hoff Road Trailhead or the peaceful Turtle Pond.
  • Winter activities: Don’t let winter keep you indoors! Midewin public trails are open year-round including access for snowshoeing and XC-skiing (snow conditions permitting).
  • Discover! Learn about the different prairie plants and grassland birds, introduce yourself to the bison or enjoy the expanses of Midewin. If you’re a photographer or just an avid Instagramer, bring your camera or phone and show the world the mosaic of purples, yellows and blues! Tag your Instagram posts with #DiscoverYourPlace to be featured on our stream and please share with us the highlights from your adventure.

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Make a day or weekend of it!

  • Des Plaines Fish and Wildlife Area: The Illinois Department of Natural Resources maintains the nearby Des Plaines Fish and Wildlife Area open for additional recreation opportunities, hunting and fishing.
  • Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery: The Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, named for the President who founded the National Cemeteries, sits adjacent to Midewin as an armed-services burial site, and is open to the public.
  • Downtown Joilet: Just a quick 20 minute drive north on Route 53 you will find downtown Joliet.

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is one of the best natural treasures in our region. Whether you’re planning your first trip or your 20th, we invite you to enjoy these public lands and discover Midewin in your own way.

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Raising Parks and Wetlands from Industrial Sites along Lake Calumet

On November 5, Openlands Greenways Director Ders Anderson joined local community leaders, and guided a tour of potential public access and ecological restoration sites along the shores of Lake Calumet. Easily accessible to the neighborhoods of Pullman and Roseland, Lake Calumet is the largest body of water in the city of Chicago; however, the shoreline has sat vacant, cut off from public access for decades.

As part of the Lake Calumet Vision Committee, Openlands has been working in partnership with the Southeast Environmental Task Force, the Alliance for the Great Lakes and Friends of the Parks to develop new parkland and recreation opportunities for local communities at this site. Representatives from Congresswoman Robin Kelly’s office (IL-2nd), Congressman Michael Quigley’s office (IL-5th) and the Chicago Park District joined the Lake Calumet Vision Committee along with leaders from the Active Transport Alliance, Friends of Big Marsh, the Metropolitan Planning Council and REI’s Outdoor Programs for a tour of the underutilized sites.

“When Lake Calumet came under management of the Illinois International Port District decades ago, the surrounding neighborhoods were cut off from their 100-year access to this water resource, and the shore has remained undeveloped since,” explains Anderson. The committee envisions future recreation opportunities for biking, jogging, paddling and sailing, as well as a new trail linking the Pullman National Monument to the new urban mountain bike Park at Big Marsh. The committee has engaged local residents both for their input and reaction to the proposal and found overwhelming support for access to the lake. When completed, the proposed park and recreation sites would restore public access to this neglected natural treasure.

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The creation of new parkland at this site would further connect the growing network of green spaces in south Chicagoland maintained by the Chicago Park District. Nearby Big Marsh is home to the recently opened 278-acre bike park, Chicago’s first eco-recreation destination, with Heron Pond, Indian Ridge, Deadstick Pond and Hegewisch Marsh located at the southern end of the lake.

But Lake Calumet is valuable for many more reasons than just the recreation opportunities. In 1980, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources listed Lake Calumet on its Illinois Natural Areas Inventory, which listed habitats within the state in vital need of conservation and which has served as a guide to land preservation to this day. However, despite the need for preservation of this aquatic ecosystem, little action has been taken to protect Lake Calumet.

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At the north end of the lake sits the 140-acre Square Marsh, which the committee hopes to see restored as a hemi-marsh. A hemi-marsh is an aquatic ecosystem, 50% of which is open water necessary for birds to identify the site as habitat, and the other 50% comprised of aquatic plants to provide wildlife with food and shelter. Along with the recently restored hemi-marsh at Big Marsh, the restoration efforts at Lake Calumet would provide a dramatic increase in habitat.

Conditions for restoration are ripe: water levels in Lake Calumet are ideal for wetlands restoration, the lake provides a variety of habitats to support an array of wildlife, and the water quality in the lake is believed to be improving thanks to local efforts to curb runoff from industrial sites. All totaled, the restoration site could support more than 500 acres of new habitat.

With everything moving in the right direction for a positive redevelopment of the shores of Lake Calumet, Openlands hopes to build on existing local support for the plan and realize this important project. “There is very strong local support for this project, it is consistent with the land use plan adopted by the City of Chicago, and Lake Calumet has long been identified as a site with major conservation potential,” explains Anderson, “What we need now is financial support and the will of our elected leaders to see it through, but I am confident they will do the right thing for the community.”

Photo Credit (all): Lloyd DeGrane
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Eco-Explorations Takes Students Beyond the Classroom

If you visited the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve in Fort Sheridan during a weekday this autumn, chances are you shared the preserve with a gaggle of schoolchildren as well, but they were visiting for more than a leisurely stroll.

These students were trying their hand at being naturalists by recording their observations of the preserve. They observed seasonal changes and compared the microclimates of the ravine, shoreline, and bluff areas. In preparation for their visits, students modeled the process of erosion in the classroom so they could better understand the impacts of erosion on-site. These trips allowed students to engage with nature while also helping teachers to meet the science curriculum expectations of the new Next Generation Science Standards.

This outdoor classroom experience is part of Openlands’ Eco-Explorations program. Eco-Explorations brings third grade, fourth grade, and high school classes out to the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve for experiential environmental education. This autumn, over 500 students have visited the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve through Eco-Explorations.

For many students, these trips are the highlight of the school year. For some, it is the first time they have visited the Lake Michigan shoreline.

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Classes that participate in Eco-Explorations are from a Chicago school that has partnered with Openlands through Building School Gardens. Twenty classes are participating this year, and each one will return to the preserve in the spring to continue their observations, as well as to study the preserve’s rare plants and birds.

Openlands is committed to engaging the next generation of naturalists through programs such as these. Thanks to generous funding from the Grainger Foundation, Eco-Explorations is in its sixth year.

The Openlands Lakeshore Preserve is a public nature preserve and is open year-round free of charge. Plan your own visit.

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Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs, an Openlands Partner for Open Space

Congrats, Cubbies!!!

Openlands cheers the Cubs on their historic World Series win. It was a thrilling game and a hard-earned victory!

In 2012 (only 104 years into the Cubs’ now-ended championship drought) Openlands partnered with the Cubs and Alderman Thomas M. Tunney on a new park in Lakeview. Openlands purchased the property at 1230 W. School St., which at the time featured nothing but an unused warehouse. The property was transferred to the Chicago Park District to become the half-acre Margaret Donahue Park, honoring the long-time Cubs employee who worked her way up from secretary to vice president of the Cubs. Donahue was the first woman to hold that position in Major League Baseball.

Like the Cubs, Openlands takes the long view. We understand that dreams take time, lots of effort, and strong partnerships.

Thank you, Cubs, World Series Champions!