A bicentennial oak, one more than 200 years old
L. Brody Dunn
October 16, 2014

Ancient Oaks Link Us to the Big Grove

When people think about the landscape of central Illinois prior to European settlement they tend to think “prairie,” vast expanses of flat land covered in tall grass and tall flowers. And for the most part, that image is accurate. But groves of trees intruded on the grasslands here and there, especially on the eastern edges of rivers and streams, creating natural breaks to prairie fires driven by winds from the west.


A cicada on a tree trunk
Rob Kanter
September 04, 2014

Annual cicadas enliven dog days with love song

Even if the heat and humidity of recent weeks have limited your time outdoors, I bet you’ve been hearing a familiar insect song. It’s the mating call of dog day cicadas, loud enough to rise above the drone of air conditioners and so persistent and widespread that people who hear can hardly miss it.


Rob Kanter holds a smallmouth bass in a boat on the Salt Fork River
Rick Larimore
August 14, 2014

Floating, Fishing on the Salt Fork River

Recreational activities like fishing and wildlife spotting on rivers like the The Salt Fork River—and rivers like it across the country— can serve as a reminder that these rivers were once treated by industry as sewers and rendered unfit for use by wildlife or people. But during the course of just a few decades, they’ve come back, thanks in large part to the federal Clean Water Act that forced polluters to take responsibility for their waste.


A muskrat swims in a creek
Rob Kanter
June 12, 2014

Appreciating Muskrats

What might a muskrat be doing in an urban park, just blocks from the center of town? Muskrats occupy a wide variety of aquatic and wetland habitats, including slow moving creeks near cities and towns.


Monarch Butterfly feeding on butterfly milkweed
Rob Kanter
May 08, 2014

Support monarch butterflies by planting milkweed at home

Monarch Butterflies are declining rapidly as a species—by a staggering 90 percent in the past two decades. Butterfly milkweed, an easy-to-grow perennial characterized by attractive foliage and bright orange flowers; it is also the only plant fledgling Monarch caterpillars feed on. People can provide important habitat for them in home landscaping—just by cultivating some milkweed for the caterpillars to feed on.


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