A piece by David Rettker, one of our featured artists for our annual art exhibition and auction, Into the Woods.
A piece by David Rettker, one of our featured artists for our annual art exhibition and auction, Into the Woods.

Archive for the ‘Recreation’ Category

The endurance of the midland brown snake

Posted: April 3rd, 2017

By Joey Cavataio, Amateur Herpetologist

It’s 1925. Somewhere in the vast-but-ever-shrinking prairie located northwest of downtown Chicago, a brand new batch of bungalows stands out against the tall grass and endless horizon to the west. A few years earlier, the beginnings of a subdivision were born, when rough roads and paved sidewalks were installed in anticipation of a new way of life for many – rural living in what was technically Chicago by that point. The development of all of the homes, roads, and sewers necessitated the destruction of prairie. Virtually all living things died; plants, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, and most mammals quickly vanished in short order in favor of human sprawl.

One species that endured the invasion of humans was Storeria dekayi, or the midland brown snake. This tiny, innocuous serpent, long as a nightcrawler and about as secretive, decided that it was going to use its adaptive nature to its advantage. Naturally a creature of open woodland, the edges of woodlands, savanna, and prairie, it handled the park-like environment well enough to persist. Craving slugs and worms, it never faced a shortage of its prey among the lawns and gardens it frequented. And giving birth to live babies, independent from birth, was a huge plus – eggs are sensitive to weather extremes, predators, and all sorts of human activities. It seemed destined to cling to its former haunts despite profound disturbance.

In my backyard, I have found these snakes a number of times over the last few years. I assumed there was a hibernaculum – a protected space where the snakes congregate during the winter months. I searched around my house and garage but never reached a conclusion. Today, I think I found the entrance to a hibernaculum, a small crevice which leads to the house’s foundation. Just outside the crevice was a young adult male brown snake, torpid, but slowly warming itself as it lay coiled underneath a flower planter I placed there two years ago with hope that I might someday discover just what I had discovered today.

I’ve searched high and low for reptiles and amphibians in every corner of this country and even abroad, and have found and studied rare and striking (no pun intended) taxa that may seem to deserve more mention than some small, plain looking snake. But I’m afflicted with this passion for a snake that ekes out a living in the streets of Chicago, contends with mesopredators such as skunks, and somehow survives living in and on surfaces contaminated with road salt and chemicals, all the while trying very hard to avoid detection. I have a ton of respect for these animals. And call me crazy, but I think I’m darn lucky to share my house with them, if even only during the winter. 

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Joey Cavataio found a midland brown snake warming itself underneath a flower planter at his home on the Northwest side of Chicago. Near the planter, Joey discovered what he believes to be a hibernaculum, a small crevice leading to the house’s foundation.

8th Annual Photo Contest Exhibit

Posted: March 31st, 2017

Please join Friends to celebrate the beauty of the forest preserves as seen through the lenses of photographers in our community.

Friday, May 12th, 2017
6 PM – 8 PM
Franklin Framing
13019 S. Western Ave.
Blue Island, IL 60406

Refreshments will be served.

This event is free. Donations will be accepted at the door.
You can make a donation in lieu of attending, on our website.

To RSVP email ilana@fotfp.org or call (312) 356-9990

Swing for Sustainability 2017

Posted: January 24th, 2017

Join us for our annual Swing for Sustainability Open!

Reserve your spot today!
$150 individual / $600 foursome

At the Forest Preserves’ premier course:

George W. Dunne National Golf Course
16310 Central Ave., Oak Forest, Illinois 60452
Friday, June 9th, 2017
12:30 registration and range, 2 pm shotgun start, best ball

Reserve your spot today!
$150 individual / $600 foursome

Ticket includes:

  • Greens fees
  • Range balls
  • Lunch
  • On-the-course drinks
  • Open-bar reception
  • Dinner with awards

Sponsorship Opportunities

Drink Cart Sponsor – $1,250

  • Recognition, including logo placement in all promotional materials and on the drink cart day-of
  • Day-of verbal recognition

Long Drive Sponsor – $1,000

  • Recognition, including logo placement in all promotional materials and on day-of signage at one hole on the course
  • Day-of verbal recognition

Closest-to-the-Pin Sponsor – $1,000

  • Recognition, including logo placement in all promotional materials and on day-of signage at one hole on the course
  • Day-of verbal recognition

Hole-in-One Sponsor – $750

  • Recognition, including logo placement in all promotional materials and on day-of signage on hole 17
  • Day-of verbal recognition

Dinner Sponsor – $500

  • Recognition, including logo placement in all promotional materials and on day-of signage
  • Day-of verbal recognition

Hole Sponsor – $500

  • Recognition, including logo placement in all promotional materials and on day-of signage at one hole on the course
  • Day-of verbal recognition

Golf Ball Sponsor – $350

  • Recognition, including logo placement in all promotional materials and on day-of signage
  • Day-of verbal recognition

Lunch Sponsor – $250

  • Recognition, including logo placement in all promotional materials and on day-of signage
  • Day-of verbal recognition

Skill Prize Sponsor – $250

  • Recognition, including logo placement in all promotional materials and on day-of signage
  • Day-of verbal recognition

Please contact Ilana Federman at ilana@fotfp.org with questions or to become a sponsor.

All proceeds support Friends’ work to make the forest preserves better for you and generations to come!

Busse Woods Night Ride 2017

Posted: January 24th, 2017

6:00PM – 11:00PM

The 3rd Annual Busse Woods Night Ride is bigger and better than ever!

Please join us for your one chance to ride through the forest preserves at night.

New this year! Historical Wave, taking you to places of cultural and geographical significance. Led by Elk Grove expert Michael Stachnik, Program Director at the Elk Grove Historical Museum.  Leaves from the boathouse at 6pm and lasts approximately 1.5 hours.

Back by popular demand! Sunset Wave, leaves from the boathouse at 6:30pm and lasts approximately 1 hour. We are excited to offer two extended waves this year that take you on a 12- mile journey and lasts approximately 1.5 hours each. All other regular waves are 8 miles and last approximately 1 hour.

With 15 waves to choose from, there’s something for everyone!

All riders will receive a special gift when you check in at the event. All attendees 21+ will receive two free beers courtesy of Church Street Brewing Company. And all participants will enjoy live music by The Jeff Parker Duo, bonfires, s’mores, and your one chance to be in the preserves after sunset!

Early Bird tickets are just $35! (Excludes Historical and Extended Waves)

Register Now! (To register, you must choose a ticket price AND specify the wave you want.)

Wave 1: 6:00-7:30 Historical Wave
Wave 2: 6:30-7:30 Sunset Wave
Wave 3: 7:00-8:00
Wave 4: 7:10-8:10
Wave 5: 7:20-8:20
Wave 6: 7:30-9:00 Extended Wave
Wave 7: 7:40-8:40
Wave 8: 7:50-8:50
Wave 9: 8:00-9:30 Extended Wave
Wave 10: 8:10-9:10
Wave 11: 8:20-9:20
Wave 12: 8:30-9:30
Wave 13: 8:40-9:40
Wave 14: 8:50-9:50
Wave 15: 9:00-10:00

In partnership with:

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Thank you to our sponsors:

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If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities, please contact Ilana Federman at 312-356-9990 or ilana@fotfp.org.

Beer in the Woods

Posted: January 24th, 2017

1pm – 5pm

Please join Friends of the Forest Preserves for our first ever Beer in the Woods event, a fundraiser featuring craft beer and cider. Come sip beer in LaBagh Woods, a haven for nature enthusiasts, on the North side of Chicago. All proceeds will be used for Friends’ advocacy, Conservation Corps, and community building initiatives.

Tickets will be available for online purchase soon.

Some of our participating breweries:

Goose-Island-LogoShort's Brewing logo_4c_blacktext BellaireMIMiskatonic Combo 3
Virtue CiderFlossmoor logoBand of Bohemia JPG Logo
SOB-logo_large-page-001begyle_hop_logoATB_LOGOS_BLACK_BKGRND-01
HTHLogo_SixPoint_RedPrairiekrafts LogoFR stacked brown
BurntCity_logoRavinia_full_logo_negativeBlueblood Brewing
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Participating food trucks:

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Somme Winter Solstice Bonfire & Celebration

Posted: December 1st, 2016

This annual tradition in the woods will include a GIANT bonfire and a bagpiper!

Please bring snacks to share.

Festivities start at 2pm at Somme Woods East and is completely FREE!

See map.

Contact Josh Coles at josh@fotfp.org for more information.

Birds and Bikes on the Major Taylor Trail

Posted: October 10th, 2016

Join us for a FREE guided bike ride from the oak woodlands of Dan Ryan Forest Preserve to the riverside savanna of Whistler Forest Preserve as we search for birds! Look for ducks as we cross the Little Calumet River or we might spot a Bald Eagle!

Meet at the 83rd St. parking lot in Dan Ryan Forest Preserve. The lot is on the north side of 83rd Street, just east of Western Ave.

Total biking distance is about 15.5 miles on a flat paved trail. Bring your own binoculars, water and a snack.

Attendance is limited to 25 riders, so register today!

Click Here to register.

This event is presented in partnership with Friends of the Forest Preserves, Friends of the Major Taylor Trail, Audubon Great Lakes, and The Field Museum.

 

 

 

Bike Glenview – Forest Preserves Bike Ride

Posted: June 1st, 2016

Bike from Blue Star Memorial Woods in Glenview to the Skokie Lagoons and back with Friends of the Forest Preserves! We will stop for a snack at the lagoons and chat about the ecology of the preserves we have just traveled through. Meet at the Blue Star Memorial parking lot for a prompt departure at 1pm. The ride will last about 1.5 to 2 hours round trip. This event is free, but you must register to attend. Please take a moment now to register in order to save your spot!

Nature Crafts Day at Whistler Woods

Posted: May 26th, 2016

Join us for a fun day of outdoor crafting! Artists and nature lovers of all ages welcome! FREE! 11:00 – 12:30pm at Whistler Woods, 678 W. 134th St., Riverdale. See map.

 

Changing Perspectives on Camping

Posted: May 16th, 2016

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about camping? Take a second to really think. Did you think about a nice pristine lake? Or did you think about a set of mountains that light bounces right off of into the meadows? If you’re like Dyrell Williams, Friends of the Forest Preserves Palos division Advanced Crew member, when you hear camping you think of raccoons, possums, and other late night raiders. Though now, Dyrell would be the first to tell you how exciting and impactful camping can be. All thanks to the initiative of The Chicago Park District Front Country Leadership Training. Dyrell attended a two day field training that taught him how to safely lead hikes in the wilderness; set up a tent properly; prepare, cook, and safely store food; as well as operate in the safest way possible while away from civilization. The experience changed Dyrell’s perspective of camping as a whole to a brighter and maybe more desirable journey that he can take.

Dyrell Williams, Calumet Conservation Corps crew member, Friends of the Forest Preserves    Displaying IMG_0920.JPGDisplaying IMG_0920.JPGCamping

By Dyrell Williams, Palos Division Advanced Crew Member