Stories by patty wetli

No, Not for Selfies: This Community Science Project Tracks Environmental Change in Area Parks

A Chronolog station in the wild. (Courtesy of Chronolog)

Monitoring stations have been set up at various parks and preserves in the Chicago region for visitors to snap photos, which are then stitched together in a time-lapse series to document environmental changes. 

Chicago Prepares for Extreme Heat This Weekend as Wildfire Smoke Lingers


High temperatures and oppressive humidity levels could combine for a triple-digit heat index Saturday. Air quality continues to be affected by smoke in the atmosphere from wildfires in the western U.S. and Canada.

Cardboard Beds, Recycled Medals: Tokyo Games Put Sustainability Front and Center

This image from video shows the Tokyo Olympics medals. The Games kick off Friday, July 23 and run through Aug. 8. (Credit: Tokyo Olympics)

Some of the Games’ most high-profile moments will incorporate clever examples of “reduce, reuse, recycle,” like medalists standing on 3-D printed podiums made from recycled plastic collected by the Japanese people. 

Gypsy Moth’s End Marks Start of Movement to Scrub Slurs From Insect Names

A lymantria dispar caterpillar, awaiting its new common name. (Feliciano Moya Lopez / Pixabay)

Moths have been nabbing international headlines of late, thanks to a declaration by the Entomological Society of America that the gypsy moth is no more. The destructive insect hasn’t gone extinct, but it’s common name has been mothballed.

It’s National Moth Week, And Boy Do These Underappreciated Creatures Deserve the Spotlight

An Atlas moth dispels the myth that moths are drab. (Bar Bus / Pixabay)

They are often thought of as a nondescript bugs — or even pests — and are misunderstood in large part because of their nocturnal behavior. But moths are excellent pollinators and play a key role in the food web. Here’s what else you should know about moths’ incredible diversity.

Field Museum Scientists Use DNA to Unlock Extinction Mystery of Xerces Blue Butterfly

Specimens of the extinct Xerces blue butterfly, in the Field Museum's collection. (Courtesy of Field Museum)

Despite its diminutive size, the butterfly famed for its iridescent wings is a giant within the conservation movement, cited as the first case of an insect extinction that can be attributed to urban development.

Wildfires Raging in the West Creating Hazy Skies Over Chicago

Chicago’s hazy skies are due to wildfires in the West. (Steve Buissinne / Pixabay)

Hazy skies and unusually colorful sunsets in the area are due to smoke in the atmosphere that is spreading over the Midwest, according to the National Weather Service.

Chicago Museums Band Together in Court Filing to Support the Obama Center

The latest rendering of the Obama Presidential Center tower. (Courtesy of Obama Foundation)

A coalition of 16 Chicago museums and cultural institutions has weighed in on the ongoing battle over the Obama Presidential Center, coming down firmly on the side of the center versus those who would block its construction in historic Jackson Park.

Monty and Rose Documentary to Hit the Big Screen With Premiere at Music Box

Monty and Rose's plover chicks, 2020. (Courtesy of Bob Dolgan)

The full-length documentary captures the story of Monty and Rose from their hatching in 2017 to their status as standard bearers for piping plover conservation efforts. 

Results of Waste Management Study Have Chicago Thinking Outside the Black and Blue Cart

Chicago’s black and blue carts have been the city’s waste management workhorses. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Chicago generates more than 4 million tons of material waste annually. A new, highly anticipated report recommends a number of strategies aimed at keeping more of that trash out of landfills.

Chicago Region Prepares to Take Action on Climate Change

The Chicago region is warming faster than the globe, experts say. (Alfred Derks / Pixabay)

The Chicago region is warming faster than the globe, says the newly sworn-in administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. How a new plan aims to take on the root cause of climate change: greenhouse gas emissions.

Park District HQ on South Side to Deliver Open Space and That Other Green: Money

A rendering of John Ronan Architects’ plan for the Park District’s new headquarters in the Brighton Park neighborhood. (Courtesy of Chicago Park District)

The Chicago Park District officially broke ground Thursday on the agency’s new $65 million, 58,000-square-foot headquarters in the Brighton Park neighborhood. “This is the wealth-building we talk about,” community leaders said.

Officials: 1st Mosquitoes Test Positive for West Nile Virus in Chicago This Year

(FotoshopTofs / Pixabay)

The infected mosquitoes were found in the O’Hare and Beverly community areas, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Monty and Rose Welcome Fourth Plover Chick, With an Assist From Lincoln Park Zoo

Monty and Rose's fourth piping plover chick, hatched at Lincoln Park Zoo. (Courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo)

Two days after welcoming three healthy chicks, Chicago’s beloved piping plovers added a fourth hatchling to their growing family, thanks to a little help from wildlife officials.

Anonymous No More. Field Museum’s New Exhibit Tells Story 70 Years in the Making

Mojina Jinuna Mote, holding a photo of herself taken in 1947. Mote’s story is part of a new exhibit on the Marshall Islands at the Field Museum. (Courtesy of the Field Museum)

A photo snapped by a Field Museum anthropologist in 1947 was labeled “schoolgirl” for 72 years. That student now has a name, and her story is part of a new exhibit about the Marshall Islands. 

Dozens of Baby Gulls Rescued After Falling From Hotel Roof Near Navy Pier. Adult Gulls Fingered as Culprits

A baby gull. (Elien Said / Pixabay)

Bird monitors said the gull colony is probably stressed in some way, either from lack of food, not enough room on the roof or extreme heat.

They’ve Hatched! Monty and Rose’s New Chicks Are Here

Great Lakes piping plover. (Vince Cavalieri / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Chicago’s indomitable piping plovers have welcomed three chicks, with a fourth still possibly on the way, plover monitors have reported.

Fairy Houses Are Popping Up in Chicago Parks. There’s a Perfectly Natural Explanation

Fairy house, Humboldt Park. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of its natural areas, the Chicago Park District, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy of Illinois, has installed 20 fairy houses in parks across the city. Here’s where to find them.

It’s Not Exactly Pigs Flying, But Check Out These Goats on a Boat

A boat carries two- and four-legged passengers along the Chicago River on Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (WTTW News)

ComEd treated some hard-working members of its team to the ride of their lives as a way to educate the public about the utility company’s use of goats to manage overgrown vegetation around hard-to-reach power lines.

Bird Feeders Still OK in Illinois, But Not Indiana, Where Mysterious Illness is Killing Songbirds

(Pixabay / GeorgeB2)

Hundreds of songbirds have died in Indiana from a mysterious illness, prompting wildlife officials in that state to ask residents to remove all bird feeders. Officials in Illinois say they have yet to receive reports of similar infections.

Chicago Fireworks Set for July 3 Along the Lakefront

(Heiko Stein / Pixabay)

The Fourth of July holiday weekend will kick off Saturday with fireworks along the lakefront starting at 9:30 p.m. The display should be visible from Grand Avenue to at least 55th Street, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Friday.

Monty and Rose Are Grandparents! Next Generation of Chicks Hatch in Ohio

Piping plover. (Cadop / Pixabay)

While they await the arrival of their own chicks, Chicago’s beloved piping plovers have just become grandparents — four times over.

It’s ‘Plastic Free July.’ Who’s Up for the Challenge?

(Courtesy of Plastic Pollution Coalition)

Strides being made against the use of plastic products were derailed by the coronavirus pandemic. Now, a global campaign is encouraging people to choose reusable materials over single-use plastic and get the reduction back on track.

Urban Forestry Advisory Board Wins Council Approval. Now What?

Chicago has room for 900,000 more trees in under-resourced areas alone. (Facebook / Openlands)

Supporters are calling it a big win for Chicago’s trees, but say the real work begins now. How the new Urban Forestry Advisory Board will bring together public and private partners to care for and enhancing the city’s urban canopy.

Wet Weather Brings out the Mushrooms, but That’s Just the Tip of the Fungal Iceberg

Mushrooms popped up in a Chicago parkway after recent rains. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

What’s up with the mushrooms that appear and then quickly disappear after wet weather? Where do they come from, and where do they go?

Chicago’s Reopening Rolls On With Return of Food Truck Fest

(Courtesy of Pilsen Food Truck Social)

The Friday lunchtime series highlighting a rotating lineup of vendors will kick off July 30 and run through Oct. 15 in Daley Plaza.