News

New Direction for Chicago Living Corridors

Dear Supporters:

Chicago Area Living Corridors Alliance (aka Chicago Living Corridors) has come to a crossroads in our development which requires a new direction.

The organization was incorporated as a 501c3 corporation in 2016. Donations were received from the organizations of the group’s leaders, and we proceeded with a number of successful actions. Volunteers created the Chicagolivingcorridors.org website.  One of the key features of the website is the map showing the location of properties with native plant gardens and earth-friendly practices. The website provides resources for individuals who are interested in creating better habitat on their own properties.

There has been much interest in CLC expressed by other organizations in the Chicago area with similar goals, such as the  Right of Way as Habitat initiative at UIC , the Field Museum, Lurie Garden and other conservation groups. Many influential proponents of increasing native habitat have accepted our invitation to be on the CLC Advisory Board. Many people, including you, have opted to be on our mailing list.

We have initiated many public relations and marketing activities, including a PowerPoint presentation about CLC, presented at Lake to Prairie Wild One conference, an event at Millennium Park and a Chicago Wilderness Congress. We held organizing meetings. We created exhibit materials and exhibited at several related group conferences. We coordinated the Chicago Living Corridors track at the Wild Ones conference in February, 2017. All of these activities have forged valuable contacts and rapport with other agencies and individuals.

In January, 2018 we hired a contractor part-time to help with administrative tasks and manage mailings to potential partners and sponsors. While many express support and value the role of an umbrella organization such as CLC, we did not receive the financial contributions needed to continue as an independent organization. We have come to realize that umbrella organizations such as Chicago Wilderness and the fledgling Chicago Living Corridors can be difficult to sustain financially because while all the member organizations support the mission, they are financially and administratively committed to their own organizations.

Given these circumstances, the board of Chicago Living Corridors had to consider new options. We recognized that The Conservation Foundation has a similar mission with the expansion of their Conservation@Home program area-wide,  though CLC’s intent was to drive inquiries to the partner organizations, not for CLC to do site visits ourselves. The Conservation Foundation is interested in expanding the map CLC created to add their new sites with improved habitat.  This effort is already underway and should be live on the CLC website soon.

After consultation with Brook McDonald, President and CEO of The Conservation Foundation, and Dan Lobbes, Director of Land Protection and Kane County Director of TCF,  the present board of directors of Chicago Area Living Corridors Alliance has signed an affiliate agreement with The Conservation Foundation. We will dissolve our 501c3 status, and TCF will become the fiscal agent for CALCA.  Jim Kleinwachter, who chairs TCF’s C@H program will join our board of directors to align our efforts with those of TCF. We intend to continue to promote improved habitat on private land in the Chicago area, maintain the Chicago Living Corridors website, and update the map. We are presently adding new members to our board to replace board members who have retired, and we are reaching out for additional committed volunteers.  

We hope you will continue to support our efforts as we know you agree with the mission of CALCA. If so, please go to the Chicago Living Corridor’s website to explore volunteer opportunities.  If you want to make a contribution to CLC, it will still be tax deductible.  However, the check would be written to The Conservation Foundation, with “Chicago Living Corridors”  on the memo line. Thank you for your past and continuing support. Our future can be bright with your help.

Sincerely,

Pam Todd
Peggy Simonsen
Carol Rice
June Keibler

Founding Members

 

Monarch Joint Venture Webinar: Getting Monarchs Into Business

Businesses and corporations can help create native habitat on private property.  Here is information on a webinar scheduled for Aug. 28, 2018.  One of the presenters is Iris Caldwell (UIC) who will discuss activities of Rights-of-Way as Habitat Working Group, an organization active in the Chicago Area.

Date/Time: Tuesday, August 28th, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT (1pm Central, 12pm Mountain, 11am Pacific)

Webinar Title: Getting Monarchs Into Business: Case studies of monarch conservation

Description: Thelma Redick will discuss the business case for support monarch conservation, exploring how businesses work with the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) to incorporate conservation into business operations, corporate citizenship initiatives and business management targets. Several quick-fire case studies will introduce the breadth of project types implemented by WHC members, across sectors and with varying resource availability. Susan Kelsey, will then take a deep dive into how GM, a long-time member of the Wildlife Habitat Council, monarch habitat a priority among their suite of pollinator projects in North America. With more than seventy certified programs world-wide, GM has used very effectively used monarch habitat as one way to engage employees and community, enhance habitat, and link to local, regional and national ecological initiatives. Iris Caldwell will then provide an overview of how organizations in the Rights-of-Way as Habitat Working Group are approaching monarch habitat conservation, also featuring a couple of industry case studies.

Presenters:  Iris Caldwell, Energy Resources Center, Thelma Redick, Wildlife Habitat Council and Susan Kelsey, GM.

Register: Getting Monarchs into Business

Please feel free to share this announcement and registration information!

We look forward to your participation!
MJV/NCTC Webinar Team

Tracy McCleaf

US Fish and Wildlife Service
National Conservation Training Center
698 Conservation Way
Shepherdstown, WV 25443
304-876-7781
tracy_mccleaf@fws.gov

Wanted: Dead or Alive- Wildlife Trees

Snag wildlife treeBy Charlotte Adelman

Compared with a living tree, more species of life benefit directly from the habitat and nourishment offered by trees in the afterlife. While a tree’s death causes wildlife dependent on its pollen, fruits or nuts to go elsewhere, the death enables crowds of other woodland life to move in and vastly increase the diversity of species it supports. The moment a tree dies, creatures ranging from birds to bacteria move in to dissolve, chew and disassemble the cellulose and lignin structure into food or habitat. A habitat has four essential components that make it suitable for a particular population of animals: food, water, shelter, and space. A wildlife tree provides three of the four of those essentials making it an important part of your backyard habitat to increase biodiversity.

Some 85 species of birds in North America nest in the dying and dead trees that we call snags or wildlife trees. Dead and dying trees are in limited supply, making them exclusive stopover sites for exhausted migrating birds, and for the bluebirds, American kestrels, wrens, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and chickadees. Cavities located over or near water are used by tree swallows, prothonotary warblers, wood ducks, goldeneyes, mergansers and buffleheads. Some species, like chickadees select a cavity with the smallest opening they can squeeze through. This prevents nest predators (blue jays, raccoons) and nest parasites (brown-headed cowbirds) from entering. Great crested flycatchers often hang a snake skin in the cavity entrance, to scare off intruders. Primary cavity users excavate cavities in the decaying wood, while secondary cavity users wait for a woodpecker to do the work before occupying and enlarging the cavity.

northern flicker escavates her nest cavityA dead tree also offers a place to build nests and a perch for hunting and observation (hawks, owls), safety from predators, and protection from the elements. Seeds, nuts and other food items stored in a cavity can determine which individuals make it through a particularly harsh winter, notes The Cavity Conservation Initiative. [i] The native bee larva and Lepidoptera (butterfly/moth) eggs that overwinter in tree bark also serve as food for birds and their spring nestlings. Mammals also use cavities in dead trees. Bats use natural and abandoned woodpecker cavities. Small mammals den in hollow trees. Flying squirrels prefer downy woodpecker cavities, which they line with shredded bark, or lichens, moss, feathers or leaves. Black bears sleep in the vast hollow trunks of huge sycamore trees that once sheltered entire pioneer families.   

The wildlife associated with snags play an important role in the dispersal of invertebrates. Peeling bark provides habitat for insects that wild birds consume. Protein-packed mushrooms -the fruiting bodies of fungi—attract more insects and hungry wildlife to the side of dead trees. When downed, hollow logs and dead trees are corridors used by predators as silent passageways through the noisy leaf litter. Below ground, a dead tree’s nutritional offerings eventually enters the soil, where they are further broken down and transported to different soil layers by the various decomposers.

Cavity conservation initiative
Decomposers including earthworms, firefly larva, ant colonies, snails, and crickets help return nutrients from the decaying debris to the soil, ultimately strengthening the forest’s ability to support life. Species that aerate, dig and fragment wood contribute to improved soil structure and quality. Decomposing wood, especially when accompanied by dead leaf litter, is a nutritionally rich and superior nursery for many seeds, such as shade-seeking wildflowers. Wood decomposers include bacteria, nematodes as well as types of fungi, called mycorrhiza. In return for delivering minerals (phosphorus, inorganic nitrogen) to the plant via its rootlets, the fungi receive moisture and carbohydrates from the plant, and sometimes a bonus in the form of special resistance to certain diseases.

A piece by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) from the UK urges “Bring your garden to life with dead wood”. Eventually, the structure of the dead tree dissolves and it falls over, becoming a “nurse log” because it provides a habitat for many organisms. Nurse logs are often hollow, and used for a variety of purposes by wildlife. When creating snags from dying trees, it is important that homeowners hire an expert tree service to remove branches and tops of large trees. Homeowners must make sure that whoever does the work is licensed, bonded, and insured, and understands your intention to make a wildlife tree. Contact local arborists for certified specialists who can competently create and maintain wildlife trees.

Cavity Conservation sign

To clearly communicate about wildlife trees between you and your neighbors, hang up these handy wildlife tree signs.These handy wildlife tree signs provide an opportunity to educate friends, neighbors, and the public about why a dead tree has been retained.

These aluminum signs are about the size of a sheet of paper and cost $10 (shipping included). For the signs, visit The Cavity Conservation Initiative’s Nature Store at:  http://cavityconservation.com/nature-store-2/

 

By Charlotte Adelman

Charlotte is the co-author of The Midwestern Native Garden, Midwestern Native Shrubs & Trees, and Prairie Directory of North America. Co-authored with Bernard L. Schwartz,  The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants was the winner of the 2012 Helen Hull Award from the National Garden Clubs. In 2014, Adelman was awarded an Audubon Chicago Region Habitat Project Conservation Leadership Award. Read more about her work in this feature article in the Chicago Tribune.

 

Additional Resources & Sources:

 Nancy Lawson article: http://www.humanegardener.com/life-after-death/

 Bernd Heinrich, Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death (Paperback)

[i] Value of Dead Trees for Birds The Cavity Conservation Initiative

https://wdfw.wa.gov/living/snags/

https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/OI/PublishingImages/SnagOrDeadTree4.jpg

A Bird’s Eye View Inside Some Nests

Although our local weather may not be as spring-like as we’d like, birds are responding to their nesting timelines all over the country.  Below are links to several special opportunities to observe the nesting behavior of a bird species including hawks, osprey, peregrines, eagles and hummingbirds.  Several links have been provided for eagle cams; each of them offers a view of different stages in the nesting. These links include live cams as well as recordings (both from this season and from previous years).  The pages usually include some information about the project and the individual birds’ histories. Because of the file sizes and depending on your internet speed, there may be delay times as the live-streams load.

If you have information on other sites, please share with Carol Rice at goforsix@aol.com.

Red Tail hawk’s nest by All About Birds Article and live video 

Recorded videos of hummingbirds building their nest and their babies 

Peregrine Cam in Baltimore, MD

Osprey Cam in Charlotte and Lake Norman (both in North Carolina)

Eagle Cams in Washington, D.C,Decorah, Iowa, and Minnesota

Kestrel Cam in Utah

Peregrine nest in Evanston, IL 

Spring Gardening Inspiration, hosted by Darien Garden Club

On Saturday, March 10, Chicago Living Corridors was an exhibitor at the Darien Garden Club’s Spring Gardening Inspiration.  This event had 115 registrants and 11 exhibitors. The volunteers did a terrific job of planning, from greeting the exhibitors at the entrance to offer assistance, to providing an array of refreshments and lunch, and  wonderful perks. The best goody bag ever and a plant arrangement at every table. There were over thirty baskets of raffle prizes.

Of course, the speakers are the essential part of a good program, and the keynote was given by Dr. Abigail Derby Lewis, Senior Conservation Ecologist, Senior Program Manager, Chicago Region, Field Museum of Natural History.  “What You Plant Matters: the collective impact of urban habitat on people and nature.” She showed maps and graphs diagraming the amount of available open land in the Chicago region, and the opportunities that exist for increasing the habitat for monarchs. The challenges created by climate change were a major focus of her presentation, and the resulting impact on invasives, diseases, flooding, biodiversity, and mismatching of “pheno-phase”.  (meaning that plants will bloom too early due to warmer temperatures and not be available when the insects/birds arrive that depend on those plants.)

She recommended actions that can be taken to withstand the changes, and stressed the need for improving the health of the landscape: tree planting initiatives and the Biodiversity Recovery Plan of Chicago Wilderness were two examples.  Planting native habitat on private property was a key objective, and lines up perfectly with the mission of Chicago Living Corridors.

After the keynote, there were two tracks, with two speakers on native plant subjects and two speakers on vegetable gardening.

The variety of exhibitors was also a great feature – including tables for Conservation@Home, The Indian Prairie Public Library, Sunny Patch Farm, the Forest Preserves of DuPage County, a Seed Library (I missed the full name, but a terrific idea),  Downers Grove Organic Gardeners, the Garden Clubs of Illinois organization, and Wild Ones of Greater DuPage, as well as a table for the host organization and a few others.

The Darien Garden Club has a number of members that are growing native plants in their home gardens, and the club stands out as a leader in the garden club universe.  Chicago Living Corridors was very pleased to have been invited to exhibit at this function, and meet some of the principals of the Darien Garden Club. We will be exploring creating a connection between the garden club and CLC.  

Illinois Native Plant Society Reinstates Grants

Some of the key details of the grant program are detailed here:

Program Explanation

The Illinois Native Plant Society Research Fund was developed to promote the conservation of Illinois native plants and communities through scientific research.

Availability of Funding

$4500 is available for grants ranging from $500-$1500.
Please open the link to read full details of the grant program

2018 Research Grants

Announcing 2018 Natural Areas Grant Due Dates, including K-12 Pollinator Schools Program Grant

Deadline dates have just been announced.  Check https://www.illinoiscleanenergy.org  for program deadlines.
The K-12 Pollinator Schools Program of the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation will be offering a grant for 2018.  The grant period will be opening in December.  For information about the grant,  please view the attached link for a description of the grant.

Demonstration Gardens Are Inspiring

butterfly garden
Donna E. Wade Butterfly Garden at Park Forest Public Library

Park Forest Public Library IMG_20170623_104701269_HDRhas proven that if you build the habitat, the monarchs will come! Last year, thanks to a generous donation, the library built the beautiful Donna E. Wade Butterfly Garden right outside the windows in the children’s area. The garden is planted with a variety of perennials and annuals that serve as nectar plants. Surrounding the library there is a sea of purple coneflowers, black-eyed susans, and most importantly, milkweed, and behind the library you’ll find a diversity of native plants lining the creek. Victoria Wittig, the library’s Outreach Specialist, added an herb garden last year and a pollinator garden this year, qualifying the library as an official monarch waystation with Monarch Watch.

With the new butterfly garden last year, Victoria started a Butterfly Club to educate the children (and adults!) about the importance of pollinators, and more specifically the importance of supporting the monarch butterfly population. As most of us have heard, monarch numbers are decreasing due to habitat loss and fragmentation combined with pesticide use on lawns and farms. But, at the Park Forest library, there have been many more monarchs this year than last year! The Butterfly Club raised two monarchs last year. This year they have released 11 so far, with more than 11 more caterpillars growing in the vivarium, built by Coveside Conservation Products and donated by the Kiwanis Club. Victoria said most of the monarchs this year have been collected from the new pollinator garden, which has a combination of two milkweed species, bee balm, purple coneflower, gayfeather, Joe-Pye weed, phlox, great blue lobelia, and cardinal flower. In addition to monarchs, the club raised five generations of Black Swallowtail butterflies last year, and have begun to raise some this year as well. The swallowtails particularly like the parsley, dill, and fennel in the herb garden.

DSCF0620
Vivariam donated by the Kiwanis Club

When I asked Victoria about starting this project last year, she said finding the eggs and successfully raising the caterpillars was the hardest part. But luckily there is plenty of support if you are interested in doing this in your community or in your own backyard! Kay MacNeil, the Butterfly Chairman for the Garden Clubs of Illinois, is a vocal advocate for monarchs and for growing pollinator-friendly gardens. She has a fantastic, in-depth video on you tube, in which she describes all of the steps of planting a monarch-friendly garden and raising monarchs, with many helpful tips to make your experience more successful. Victoria also recruited the help of the University of Illinois Extension office with planting for Black Swallowtails, and the Field Museum’s Keller Action Center to visit the site and identify and count milkweed on the property. Victoria also has the cooperation of the Village of Park Forest and the library in keeping native milkweed wherever it grows.

 

DSCF0633
Releasing a monarch!

 

I hope Victoria and her Butterfly Club can be an inspiration to more folks wanting to make a difference in their own communities!