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Urban Growers Collective maintains a herd of 17 goats at its South Chicago farm. (Courtesy of Urban Growers Collective)

Where humans see a messy pile of dried needles, goats see a tasty meal. The herd at Urban Growers Collective’s South Chicago farm can dine for weeks on recycled Christmas trees.

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(Andreas Hoja / Pixabay)

Thousands of bald eagles spend their winter in Illinois and there are a number of prime eagle-spotting sites in the Chicago region.

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Charmayne Anderson holds a large Bighead carp caught in a lake in Morris, Illinois, in 2017. (Evan Garcia / WTTW News)

When it comes to keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, Illinois is the last line of defense, but the state’s not alone in the battle. Michigan will transfer up to $8 million to Illinois via an intergovernmental agreement as part of an effort to keep Asian carp at bay.

Here’s where to see this raucous beauty near Chicago

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A male pileated woodpecker, distinguished from a female by the red stripe on his cheek. (Veronica Andrews / Pixabay)

With its flaming red crest and distinctive cackle, the pileated woodpecker is a favorite of birders, not least because it resembles Woody Woodpecker. Though sightings have been rare in urban areas, they can be found in the Chicago region’s forest preserves.

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Montrose Beach Dunes Natural Area on the left, and the proposed section of Montrose Beach that would be incorporated into the protected area. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Chicago’s birding community is already preparing for the return of Monty and Rose, the piping plovers that captured national attention two summers ago when they made the surprising choice to nest on Chicago's lakefront. But will their favored habitat be secure in 2021?

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Chicago set a number of weather records in 2020. (Adonis Villanueva / Pixabay)

2020 was a wacky weather year. Chicago was warmer and wetter than normal in 2020, according to a National Weather Service climate summary.

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A group of suckers on the move in Door County, Wisconsin. (Courtesy of Shedd Aquarium)

Walking along Lake Michigan or the Chicago River, it’s difficult to imagine an underwater world teeming with life. But it’s there, promises Karen Murchie, a research biologist at the Shedd Aquarium, and we have to protect it.

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Hurricanes, wildfires, a destructive derecho and more: it was a banner year for intense weather events around the world and right here in the Midwest. 

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Hudson, Brookfield Zoo’s 14-year-old polar bear, frolics in the snow. (Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society)

Both Brookfield and Lincoln Park zoos will temporarily close during January and February, but they have plenty of online content in the works to remain connected with the public.

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Chicago Park District in-person programming is suspended, but virtual sessions are still open for registration. (Courtesy of Chicago Park District)

Winter programs have been suspended due to mitigations in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus, but people are still welcome to enjoy park trails and outdoor spaces.

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(WTTW News)

At some point, Christmas trees get brown, the needles fall off, and it’s time for them to go. But that doesn’t necessarily mean tossing your tree in the trash.

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(CDC / Pixabay / WTTW News illustration by Rebecca Palmore)

From the pandemic to protests to the power of nature, 2020 has been a year for the history books. We take a look back at the year that was — warts and all.

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A rendering of the GLIDE spacecraft by Lara Waldrop.

A spacecraft designed by an Illinois researcher and professor will orbit Earth’s outermost atmospheric layer to better understand powerful bursts of radiation from the sun, also known as solar flares. Lara Waldrop tells us more.

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Chicago typically notches an inch of measurable snow by Dec. 7. (David Mark / Pixabay)

Beginning late Tuesday afternoon, a mix of snow that could be heavy at times and freezing rain will descend on the Chicago area, according to the National Weather Service.

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Christmas trees. (Lisa Fotios / Pexels)

Starting Jan. 9, you can drop off your tree for recycling at one of two dozen Chicago parks. Here’s everything you need to know.

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In this April 6, 2017 file photo, strong winds send huge waves at the Lake Michigan shoreline at South Haven Michigan. (Mark Bugnaski / Kalamazoo Gazette via AP, File)

A program that has pumped $2.7 billion into healing long-term injuries to the Great Lakes environment has received authorization from Congress to continue another five years.