Stories by Patty Wetli

(Courtesy Riot Fest)

Tickets on Sale for Re:SET Concert Series Without Park District Approval, Despite Recent Rule Change

Re:SET Concert Series is selling tickets to a three-day summer music fest in Belmont Cragin’s Riis Park. Did promoters jump the gun or is the Park District cutting deals without community input?

Promontory Point. (Eric Allix Rogers / Preservation Chicago)

Promontory Point Clears Park District Approval Hurdle on Road to Landmark Status

The Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of landmark status for Promontory Point.

Three-year-old Banana, a pygmy hippopotamus at Brookfield Zoo, eyes her heart-shaped watermelon. (Jim Schulz / CZS-Brookfield Zoo)

Be Mine! Animals at Brookfield Zoo Enjoy a Valentine’s Day Celebration Fit For a Hippo

In what’s become an annual tradition, staff at Brookfield Zoo handed out Valentine’s Day treats to several animals this holiday. The reactions were priceless.

(Rob DeMartin)

Bruce Springsteen Coming to Wrigley Field in August; Tickets on Sale Friday

Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band will play Wrigley Field on Aug. 9. Tickets go on sale Friday.

John James Audubon's illustrations are still revered, but the naturalist's troubling history is being called into question. (Biodiversity Heritage Library)

Chicago Audubon Society to Scrub ‘Audubon’ From Name, Saying Naturalist’s Troubling History ‘Doesn’t Work For Us’

As a more complete, and complex, portrait has emerged of John James Audubon, birders and ornithologists have struggled to reconcile their missions with the troubling aspects of his legacy: buying and selling slaves, plagiarism and the exploitation of natural resources.  

Candidates Ja’Mal Green, Ald. Sophia King (4th Ward), state Rep. Kam Buckner and Willie Wilson at the WTTW News mayoral forum on Feb. 7, 2023. (Michael Izquierdo)

Mayoral Challengers Pledge To Bring Back Department of Environment. Chicagoans Have Heard That Before

During press interviews held after WTTW's mayoral forum Tuesday evening, challengers to Mayor Lori Lightfoot pledged to reestablish a Department of Environment — disbanded in 2011 under Rahm Emanuel — if elected.

Voting booths are pictured on Jan. 26, 2023. (WTTW News)

Early Voting Sites Now Open in Each Ward. Here’s What To Know Before You Cast a Ballot

Early voting sites for Chicago’s municipal election will open in all of the city’s 50 wards on Monday, running through Election Day Feb. 28.

Foster Avenue, in the North Park neighborhood. Experts say a single mug of salt is enough for 10 squares of sidewalk. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

This Week in Nature: Great Lakes States Have Too Much Salt in Their Road Diets. Wisconsin’s Attempting To Legislate a Cutback

Road salt runoff is making its way into Great Lakes waterways. Wisconsin has pending legislation that could encourage contractors to use less.

Promontory Point, on the south lakefront, is beloved for its natural aesthetic, designed by noted landscape architect Alfred Caldwell in 1937. (Preservation Chicago / Eric Allix Rogers)

Bid To Landmark Promontory Point Has To Clear the Park District First. Should Supporters Be Worried?

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks has given Promontory Point preliminary landmark status. But the Park District board needs to consent to the designation as the next step in the process. 

Orland Grassland, a thousand-acre restored prairie. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

South Suburban Forest Preserve Transformed Into Vital Refuge for Endangered Birds, Now Orland Grassland Faces Its Own Threats

“There are places you walk where you see sky touching the earth, and you can imagine this as the gateway to the Grand Prairie,” site steward Pat Hayes said of Orland Grassland.

Rocky the coyote in his enclosure at River Trail Nature Center. (Chicago Alliance for Animals)

Activists Renew Calls For Cook County Forest Preserves To Free Rocky the Coyote

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, animal rights advocates are asking the Cook County Forest Preserve District to have a heart and release “Rocky” the coyote.

Bison are the largest land mammal in North America. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Region)

This Week In Nature: Bison Are Making Nights Brighter on the Illinois Prairie. Guess Who’s Not Happy

New research shows bison are altering the landscape in unexpected ways when reintroduced to Midwest prairie ecosystems. 

A Chicago snowplow is pictured in a file photo. (WTTW News)

The Votes Are In and ‘Da Plow’ Is Ready To Hit Chicago’s Streets Along With Other Winners in Snowplow Naming Contest

Chicago has announced the winners in its “name that snowplow” contest. Did your favorite make the cut?

Coyotes are on the move, looking for love. (Alan Schmierer / Flickr Creative Commons)

What’s Up With All the Coyote Sightings? It’s Mating Season. No Need To Panic, But Leash Your Dog, Experts Say

Late winter is coyote mating season, which reaches its peak toward the end of February. That's leading to more sightings than usual by humans — even in downtown Chicago — as the animals are a bit bolder and on the move in their search for a soulmate.

Groundhog chowing on clover. (Shenandoah National Park)

It’s Groundhog Day. Let’s Get To Know the Real Critter Behind the Shadow

For an animal that has its own holiday, the groundhog kind of flies under the radar. Let’s get to know it better.

(Dan Bartlett / NASA)

Want to See the Green Comet? Adler Planetarium Will Have a Livestream Wednesday Night

The Green Comet is making its closest pass to Earth Wednesday night and the skies are looking clear enough for Adler Planetarium to host a virtual viewing party.

Promontory Point, on the south lakefront, is beloved for its natural aesthetic, designed by noted landscape architect Alfred Caldwell in 1937. (Preservation Chicago / Eric Allix Rogers)

Promontory Point Splitting Off From Army Corps’ Broader Lakefront Review

A federal evaluation of Chicago’s shoreline by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will no longer include Promontory Point — because the Point is getting a review all its own.

A rendering of Carvana’s proposed 14-story tower in Skokie. (Facebook)

In Reversal by Skokie Officials, Approval of Carvana Vending Machine Tower is Repealed

If the embattled online retailer still wants to build its tower in Skokie, the company will have to start the approval process back at square one, village trustees said.


This Week in Nature: Reports of the Earth Spinning in Reverse Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Headlines spun out of control when it came to new research results on the Earth’s core. In other news, narwhals have had it with noisy neighbors.

(Field Museum / Facebook)

Nature Museum To Hike Fees Nearly 70%. Park District Also OKs Field Museum Bump

Admission for a Chicago adult will increase from $9 to $15 at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and from $18 to $21 at the Field Museum. The Park District Board of Commissioners approved the hikes Wednesday.

WTTW News Explains: What Exactly Is Lake Effect Snow?

WTTW News explains the science behind lake effect snow. (Hint: We’re lucky to be on this side of Lake Michigan.)

(NASCAR / Facebook)

NASCAR Books Miranda Lambert, The Chainsmokers for Chicago Street Race Weekend

The Black Crowes and Charley Crockett round out the music lineup for Chicago Street Race Weekend, July 1-2.

Snow falls in the North Park neighborhood on Jan. 25, 2023. (Dan Lambert / WTTW News)

Snowfall Expected to Hit 2 to 4 Inches Across Chicago, Could Affect Morning and Afternoon Commutes

Lingering lake effect snow could make the evening rush hour an equal exercise in patience, according to the National Weather Service.

(Nikita Khandelwal / Pexels)

Snow Heading for Chicago Late Tuesday and Early Wednesday as Winter Has Some Catching Up To Do

The National Weather Service is trackiThe National Weather Service is tracking a storm set to hit late Tuesday, with peak snowfall during Wednesday morning’s commute. The greatest snow totals are expected east of I-55 and south of a storm set to hit late Tuesday, with peak snowfall during Wednesday morning's commute. The greatest snow totals are expected east of I-55 and south of I-80.

Natalie Phelps Finnie. (Courtesy of Illinois Department of Natural Resources)

Pritzker Taps Political Scion as New Head of Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Pending confirmation by the Illinois Senate, Natalie Phelps Finnie is poised to become just the second woman to head the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, following in the trailblazing footsteps of her immediate predecessor Colleen Callahan.

A helicopter hauling the type of sensor that will be seen flying over parts of Illinois, including the southern portion of the greater Chicago region. (U.S. Geological Survey)

This Hula-Hoop-Hauling Helicopter Will Be Hovering Over Illinois, Looking for Water

A low-flying helicopter, towing what looks like a giant hula hoop, is set to pass over a wide swath of the state's midsection into Northwest Indiana, surveying the Illinois River watershed.