Stories by patty wetli

4% of Illinois Land Is Protected. The Goal Is To Conserve 30% by 2030. How?

Just 4% of Illinois is officially protected. Nature preserve status is the highest level of protection available in Illinois. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Illinois has made a commitment to conserve 30% of the state’s land and water resources by the year 2030. What will it take to reach that target?

Skokie Officials Pump Brakes on Carvana Tower After Illinois Suspends Company’s Dealer’s License

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

Construction of Carvana’s controversial 14-story car vending tower in Skokie, approved just three months ago by the Village Board of Trustees despite widespread community opposition, is now on hold due to the temporary suspension of Carvana’s dealer’s license in Illinois.

Monty the Piping Plover Is Dead, Birding Community Stunned and Mourning

Monty’s legacy will be the chicks he and Rose brought into the world, seen in 2020. (Bob Dolgan)

In a brief announcement on social media, news was shared Friday evening by monitors that Monty the piping plover has died.

This Crayfish Was Rescued During Chicago River Day Cleanup, But in a Major Plot Twist, It’s Invasive

Red swamp crayfish pulled from the Chicago River during May 15 cleanup. (Twitter / @Bates-Jefferys)

In its 30-year history, Friends of the Chicago River’s annual cleanup has evolved from a focus on litter to invasive species. An invasive crayfish pulled from the river over the weekend highlights the work to be done.

Tips for Viewing the Weekend’s Lunar Eclipse: No. 1 — Watch the Forecast

A total lunar eclipse, seen from Joshua Tree National Park in 2015. (Brad Sutton / National Park Service)

After a string of clear, sunny days, rain and clouds are expected to move in for the weekend. Depending on the extent of the cloud cover, the eclipse could still deliver an “ooh-aah” moment, or it could be a womp-womp for Chicago.

Welcome to Flyover Country. Saturday Is Officially Illinois Bird Day

Hundreds of millions of birds are migrating through the U.S. this weekend. (hollandevens / Pixabay)

The timing coincides with the annual World Migratory Bird Day. The best way to celebrate? Dim external lights to help out the millions of migrating birds passing over Cook County.

More Records Could Fall as Summer-Like Heat Grips Chicago Region


The combination of high temperatures and humidity sent heat indices soaring above 100 degrees Wednesday. Thursday will see more of the same.

Attention Green Thumbs: Submissions for Chicago Excellence in Gardening Awards Now Open

The Chicago Excellence in Gardening Awards honor the city's green thumbs, wherever they garden, whether backyards, parkways, patio containers or urban farms. (Chicago Excellence in Gardening Awards)

Submissions are being accepted through July 1 for the 2022 awards, which will be judged in-person again after going virtual in 2020 and 2021. The contest is open to all Chicago residents; entry is free.

Meet the Lumpsuckers. Shedd’s Newcomer Is a Fish That Can Barely Swim, Is Covered in Teeth

Lumpsuckers at the Shedd Aquarium. (Shedd Aquarium)

The Shedd Aquarium recently welcomed a group of lumpsuckers, a fish that’s weird in so many ways, it’s hard to know where to start.

Chuoy the Buoy Reports for Duty on Lake Michigan, Filling a Chicago-Sized Gap in Monitoring Capabilities

Chuoy the buoy, reporting for data-monitoring duty in Lake Michigan off the Chicago shoreline. (Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant)

Anchored a mile off Navy Pier, Chuoy the Buoy fills a Chicago-sized gap in shoreline monitoring. Swimmers, boaters, anglers, researchers and meteorologists alike will benefit from data collected close to the city’s lakefront.   

Think Chicago’s Recent Midge Swarms Are Wild? You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

A midge swarm on Lake Erie. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Swarms of gnat-sized midges, which look like mini-mosquitoes, minus the bite, have been reported along the Chicago lakefront. But in this case, “swarm” is relative. 

Tornadoes Cap Off an April That Was Colder, Wetter Than Normal in Chicago

(Nikolas Noonan / Unsplash)

April was the rollercoaster ride, weather-wise, Chicagoans have come to expect from spring's most capricious month.

Baby Boom: Bison Calf, Pair of Eaglets Are Chicago Region’s Newest Residents

Bison at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, one of three natural areas in the region where bison have been reintroduced. (USDA Forest Service)

The recent births highlight the success of restoration and conservation efforts in Illinois.

It’s Chicago vs. The World in Weekend’s Global City Nature Challenge ‘Bioblitz’

Prairie trillium was the top observation by Chicagoans in the 2021 City Nature Challenge. (Jessica Bolser / US Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Region)

The four-day global challenge runs Friday through Monday and encourages people to record their observations of local plants and wildlife in what’s known as a “bioblitz.” Chicago just missed out on a Top 20 finish in 2021.

Urban Orchard, 606 Trail, ‘Wild Mile’ All Set for Open Space Funds, Pending City Council Approval

Floating habitat being positioned on the Chicago River. (Shedd Aquarium / Brenna Hernandez)

A trio of measures introduced at Wednesday’s Chicago City Council meeting would allocate a total of $2.5 million toward habitat and open space improvement projects.

Happy 200th B-Day Frederick Law Olmsted. New Bicentennial Guide Celebrates Wide Influence of Famed Landscape Architect

The Olmsted-designed Jackson Park in Chicago. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

In honor of Frederick Law Olmsted Sr.’s bicentennial, The Cultural Landscape Foundation has released “What’s Out There Olmsted,” a digital guide to hundreds of landscapes designed by Olmsted and his successor firms — a legacy that stretches from coast to coast.

Take Down Bird Feeders, Baths Until Threat of Bird Flu Passes, Illinois Wildlife Officials Say

(Yanna Zissiadou / Unsplash)

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources issued the recommendation Thursday. Their advice is to halt use of bird baths and bird feeders through the end of May.

Cherry Trees Reaching Peak Bloom in Jackson Park

Cherry trees blossoming in Jackson Park. (Chicago Park District)

The cherry tree blossoms in Jackson Park are quickly becoming a beloved springtime tradition in Chicago and they’re about to hit their peak.

Can Architecture Help Insulate Chicago From Climate Change? New Exhibit Says Yes

Federal Building in Chicago, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. (WTTW News)

"Energy Revolution," a new exhibit at the Chicago Architecture Center, looks at climate change through the lens of architecture, with an emphasis on energy consumption. When it comes to energy efficient insulation, less is not more.

Plover ‘Paparazzi’ Pose a Threat to Monty and Rose, Asked To Keep a Safe Distance

Piping plovers. (Joel Trick / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest)

The enthusiasm for the beloved duo is heartwarming but it’s also overwhelming and potentially dangerous for the birds, according to plover monitors. People should keep a distance of at least 30 feet from the plovers. 

Monty Is Back! Now the Wait Is on for Rose to Complete the Piping Plover Reunion

A Great Lakes piping plover is captured in this file photo. (Vince Cavalieri / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Monty the piping plover has once again seemingly defied physics and returned to Chicago a mere day after reportedly leaving his wintering grounds in Texas.

Monty Look-Alike Spotted at Rainbow Beach. Chicago Officially on Plover Watch

A plover parent and chick at Montrose Beach in 2019, courtesy of the Shedd Aquarium. (Credit: Susan Szeszol)

Piping plovers are winging their way north and one has already been spotted at Rainbow Beach. Word is that Monty could be en route to Chicago.

Willowbrook Wildlife Center Getting $25M Upgrade To Benefit Animals and the Planet

A rendering of the planned new facility for Willowbrook Wildlife Center. (Provided)

The DuPage Forest Preserve District board, which operates and funds the center, approved a plan for a new clinic that meets 21st century needs and standards and promises to be the district's first net-zero building. 

10 Ways To Participate in Earth Day and Sustain the Momentum

(Karsten Würth / Unsplash)

In the Chicago region, there are scores of ways for people to take part in the global movement not just April 22 but throughout Earth Week and beyond.

Easter Egg-stravaganza: Check Out These Dozen Beauties, ‘Decorated’ By Nature

Eggs in the Field Museum’s collection. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Decorated eggs are a centuries-old Easter tradition, but nature’s been at it eons longer — no dyes required. Take a look inside the Field Museum’s egg collection. 

Community Compost Events Aim To Keep a Ton of Food Waste Out of Landfill

Food scraps can be composted into nutrients for soil. (herb007 / Pixabay)

The University of Illinois Extension in Cook County is teaming up with the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance and Plant Chicago on a pair of compost collection events in Chicago on Saturday.