Archive for the ‘Audubon Society’ Category


Milkweeds (Asclepias sp.) are the host plant for monarch butterflies; adult monarchs feed on the nectar of many flowers, but in this region, they lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed. | Exploding Milkweed Seed Pod, Photo by: Roberta Appleby

In this issue:

  • Major Restoration Project Completed at Powderhorn Lake
  • Find Fall Color in the Forest Preserves
  • Learn about the “Stay on the Trail” Initiative
  • Latest News: Save the Date for 2024 Picnic and Special Event Permits, Camping Reservations; Forget Your Fear, Bats are Beneficial; Consider Doing Business with the Forest Preserves; Forest Preserve Foundation Board Hosts Seed Collecting Event
  • Upcoming Events, and
  • Volunteer Opportunities

Read the newsletter here.

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When: Oct 11, 2023, 7:00 p.m.

Where: The Riding Club Meeting Room, 361 Bateman Road, Barrington Hills.

What: The Forest Preserves of Cook County developed a long-term, comprehensive master plan for Horizon Farm and Spring Creek which they will share with the public.

You are welcome to attend the meeting to learn the details of how this plan addresses conservation and recreational issues.

Related:  “Horse lovers trying to save racetrack at Horizon Farm Forest Preserve, while bird and nature lovers question the impact,” “Forest Preserves of Cook County Fully Opens Northwest Cook County’s Horizon Farm Preserve,” “Park District hosting February 8th Cook County Forest Preserve District discussion,” “FPDCC holding Horizon Farm public meeting June 14th,” “FPDCC presents Horizon Farm update,” “Decadelong legal battle over Barrington Hills horse farm — eyed as huge forest preserve — may be nearing resolution

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Front to back: Robert McGinley, Dan Lobbes, Renae Frigo and David Holman head back after checking the status of a former dam on Goose Lake in Horizon Farm preserve on Aug. 18, 2023, in Barrington Hills. Members of the Barrington Area Conservation Trust and The Conservation Foundation were out surveying Horizon Farm as part of an annual effort to track changes on the property. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune)

On a group tour of Horizon Farm Forest Preserve and its rolling pastures, a visitor joked that it would make a great par 3 golf course. Nature lovers shuddered at the thought, though such a use is prohibited on the site.

But the comment illustrates the tension the Forest Preserve District of Cook County faces balancing preservation and recreation. The district’s main mission is to preserve open space, and provide “nature-compatible” recreation.

In the case of Horizon Farm in northwest suburban Barrington Hills, the issue boils down to whether to save a half-mile horse racing track. The nearly 400-acre preserve used to be a horse breeding and training ground. The track was used to train thoroughbreds for racing at the now-closed Arlington International Racecourse.

When the forest preserve district bought Horizon Farm out of foreclosure for $14.5 million in 2013, officials expressed openness to keeping equestrian uses of the site. But 10 years later, the racetrack sits filled with wild plants, unused, its railing falling apart. A big chunk of the preserve remains closed, and some trails are overgrown. Horse lovers and other preserve users are wondering whether the district will save the track.

“It’s really a prize,” Barrington Hills Park District President Dennis Kelly said. “There’s been a lot of interest in the equestrian community, but we have not gotten a response.”

Not everyone is married to the idea of a horse track. Friends of the Forest Preserves, an independent nonprofit, takes the general position that recreation in the forest preserves — from boating to fishing to camping — should facilitate enjoyment of nature.

“As soon as recreation becomes about the activity, that is not in line with what should be done with the forest preserves,” Friends President Benjamin Cox said.

The group supports horse trails since anyone can use them, but has not taken a position specifically on the horse track. Exclusive sites such as a golf course or baseball diamond are only for those uses, so Friends would prefer not to build those in the preserves.

Read more here.

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With this revolutionary new tool, anyone can follow hundreds of species on their epic journeys and discover challenges they face along the way.


Humans have long been captivated by migratory birds, awed by the animals’ biannual treks between their breeding and wintering grounds. A new digital platform, the Bird Migration Explorer, brings this natural phenomenon to your screen, enabling you to pore over the movements of individual species, discover the birds at a specific location, and learn about challenges these far-flying creatures face.

Created by Audubon and nine founding partners, using science contributed by hundreds of researchers and institutions, the platform paints the most complete picture ever of the journeys of 458 avian species that breed in the United States and Canada.

Users are met with a colorful map composed of routes of more than 9,300 birds captured by tracking devices and shared by scientists across the Western Hemisphere. The effect is astounding, says Melanie Smith, program director for the project: “You can see how birds trace the outlines of continents, rivers, lakes, mountain ridges.”

Smith and her colleagues envision a broad audience utilizing the Bird Migration Explorer, from conservationists looking to identify and protect the places migratory birds need to members of the public curious about their seasonal neighborhood visitors. Available in English and Spanish, the platform makes it possible to delve into the fascinating world of migratory birds. Here’s some of what awaits you.

Read the full Audubon Society release here.

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The Carpentersville Dam has been a favorite site for birdwatching and fishing. 

Kane County Forest Preserve District commissioners approved a budget this week that includes a property tax increase, money for government employee raises and grant funds to remove the Carpentersville Dam.

The forest district’s general fund, which accounts for the bulk of operational expenses, will increase by $800,000 for a budget of $10.65 million for the 2022-23 fiscal year. That includes a $197,000 property tax levy increase to account for new property and inflation. The levy hike is the maximum commissioners could approve without voter approval.

Those projects include the removal of the Carpentersville Dam via a $2 million grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. District staff members also are seeking grant funds to pay for a $1.3 million renovation of the Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve.

Commissioners also set high budget priorities on creating a bald eagle and wild turkey habitat in the Big Forest preserve ($335,000) and a new Rusty Patch Bumblebee habitat in Hoscheit Woods ($200,000).

Read more here.

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The goal of the bison grazing partnership is to utilize bison as another tool to manage prairie and grassland habitat for the benefit of breeding birds and other wildlife. The District is committed to advancing its conservation goals through data-driven, conservation-oriented farm management using practices that protect soil and water resources, conserve wildlife habitat, and regenerate ecological function. We continue to seek innovative ways to accomplish these goals through new partnerships.

Bison are a native species that historically played a keystone role in the ecology of prairies and grasslands, and they are an excellent management tool for prairie ecosystems. They help keep the balance of habitat structure and species composition of the prairie. Their grazing and wallowing behavior creates a mosaic of microhabitats for grassland birds, pollinators, and other wildlife. Bison are also more selective in their grazing habits, which promotes a more diverse plant community.  It is important to the prairie habitat to have grazers part of the land management.  The bison are doing the work of managing the prairie, and in a far more natural and beneficial way for wildlife.

In 2021, the Conservation District entered into a 15-year lease agreement on 180 acres of pastureland at Pleasant Valley Conservation Area in Woodstock to Ruhter Bison LLC  to raise young bison (age 1-3 year-old animals). Liberty Prairie Foundation was instrumental in finding and connecting the two entities, which developed into a successful match for the District to begin a bison grassland grazing program.  The Conservation District is using a low stocking rate and rotating the herd to manage the habitat. Ruhter Bison is dedicated to wildlife conservation and protecting natural resources.

“The bison will do the work of managing the prairie in a far more natural and beneficial way for wildlife,” said Brad Woodson Manager of Natural Resources, McHenry County Conservation District. “It is so important to prairie habitat to have grazers as another restoration tool in land management. Grazers like elk, deer or bison are essential to enhancing the diversity of a grassland habitat – they help keep the balance of habitat structure and species composition of the prairie.
We are looking forward to seeing the result!”

“When used in conjunction with prescribed burns, to manage grassland habitat, bison are a native species that historically played a keystone role in the ecology of prairies and grasslands. Their grazing and wallowing behavior creates a mosaic of microhabitats for birds, pollinators, small mammals, and other wildlife,” stated Brenna Ness Agricultural Ecologist, McHenry County Conservation District.

Grassland bison grazing is something McHenry County Conservation District has looked at establishing for many years, but there were few opportunities where the conditions were just right. The opportunity presented itself when the previous tenant, who utilized the land as a combination of agriculture and cattle, no longer wished to re-new their farm lease.

Read the full McHenry County Conservation District article here, watch their video and ask yourselves how great it would be to replicate this initiative in a portion of Horizon Farm?

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Ansel Adams

A nationally acclaimed exhibition, “Ansel Adams: Early Works,” is running at the Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County, 1899 W. Winchester Road in Libertyville, Illinois, from November 6, 2021 through March 27, 2022. The exhibition features more than 40 original photographs. The exhibition is organized by art2art Circulating Exhibitions LLC.

All photographs are from the private collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg. Support for this exhibition was provided by Dan and Shirley Mayworm and a grant from the Preservation Foundation, the charitable partner of the Lake County Forest Preserves.

Museum admission for residents is $6 for adults, $3 for seniors, $3 for youth ages 4–17, free for children ages 3 and under. Nonresident admission is $10 for adults, $6 for seniors and youth.

For more information, contact 847.968.3400 or Dunn@LCFPD.org

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When Deb Quantock McCarey heard the unmistakable bugling cries of sandhill cranes flying high above her Oak Park home last week, she ran outside to see them without even stopping to put on her shoes.

EJ Roginic was at work in Chicago, meeting with her boss, when she heard the hundreds of birds and abruptly excused herself to go outside and take a video.

“I walked out on him,” she said with a chuckle.

Winter-weary Chicagoans are once again thrilling to one of the region’s most dramatic signs of spring: the return of flocks of crimson-capped, 5-foot tall, loudly bugling sandhill cranes from as far away as Georgia and Florida. In the past week, neighbors have been alerting neighbors, Facebook birding pages have lit up with sightings, and text alerts have ricocheted back and forth among cellphones: “The sandhills are coming! The sandhills are coming!”

Retiree Paul McFadden saw 1,200 to 1,500 birds resting in a field in Barrington Hills on March 5 and posted photos at the Illinois Birding Network Facebook page.

Read more here.

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The Village has released the audio recordings from the December 7th quarterly meeting of the Equestrian Commission.

There were no formal comments made during public comment, however attendees were allowed to comment or ask questions when recognized by the chair throughout the meeting.  This more informal format is used for most Barrington Hills meetings, excluding the Village and Zoning Board meetings.

The first item covered in the meeting was the status of Horizon Farms.  Trustee Maison, liaison to the commission, provided the update, which can be heard here.

Village attorney Patrick Bond then spoke about the status of horse boarding in Barrington Hills as it stands currently in our Village Codes.  His presentation can be heard here.

It was surprising that none of the estimated 20 residents in attendance, or any of the commission members had questions or comments after Bond’s comments.  Considering the misinformation circulating throughout the Village on this topic in the last few years, one might have expected some interaction, but there was only silence.

When the topic of equestrian trail maps was discussed, there was interaction.

The Riding Club of Barrington Hills has expressed a desire to convert some of the private trails on homeowners’ properties to legal easements deeded to the club.  Two cases in which a swimming pool and a garden had been constructed which disrupted the trails were cited as factors for their desire to have better control of their trails.

It was suggested that if the trails were deeded to the Riding Club, this might be avoided, and a club representative in the audience stated that Riding Club would bear the cost of the filing fee.  Interested residents can contact the Riding Club, and the recording of that discussion can be heard here.

The agenda subject of “Equestrian Information on Website & in newsletter” also proved to be quite interesting.  The chair began the discussion by stating, “We have a number of equestrian clubs in Barrington Hills, and our events overlap.  For example, the Riding Club had a sector ride on the same day as the Village held ‘Hills Are Alive’, and so we couldn’t participate.”

Citing this recent scheduling “conflict,” she went on to express the desire to have one central calendar that all equestrian clubs may use for planning purposes, and to provide the public an opportunity to see all Village equestrian events, hunts or shows.

The chair then requested that the Village invite the Riding Club, Polo Club, Fox River Hounds, the Pony Club and the Barrington Hills Park District to utilize the Village government’s calendar for scheduling and information purposes, as well as add links to those organizations’ websites.

This seems like a reasonable concept, however the Barrington Area Library already provides a community calendar for this purpose, as seen here.

Furthermore, if the Village were to extend such an invitation, other organizations within the Village should be allowed to participate as well.  Garden clubs, youth scouting organizations, public and private schools, conservation groups and houses of worship, among others, would likely wish to have their notices posted to the calendar as well.

There’s also the matter of resources to be considered.  If the Village were to take on this responsibility, the time required to maintain such a calendar might become too great, thus detracting from other duties performed by Village Hall staff.

If the Village does decide to proceed with this initiative, the one suggestion we have is to create separate calendars for government business and community events.  Otherwise, the current calendar would likely become very muddled, thus making it more difficult for residents only interested in government meeting information to find what they’re looking for.

The link to the full Village website utilization discussion recording can be accessed here.  The menu of edited recordings by agenda topic for the entire meeting can be accessed here.

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Cook%20CountyThe Forest Preserve District of Cook County has recently released their “Trail Master Plan & Policy.”  The plan addresses current and planned changes for paved, unpaved and mowed trails as well as equestrian and mountain bike friendly trails.

The report also provides results of their 2013 survey of trail usage and satisfaction throughout the greater Cook County forest preserves areas.

A copy of the plan can be downloaded here.

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