Stories by patty wetli

The Next Generation of Environmental Stewards Is Training at Cook County Forest Preserves

Chicago Conservation Leadership Corps crew clearing buckthorn at Sand Ridge Nature Center, August 2022. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

While federal legislation to create a modern-day Civilian Conservation Corps inches its way through Congress, the Cook County Forest Preserve is moving full steam ahead with programs that deploy crews of youth and adults to tackle restoration and maintenance projects across the district’s acreage.

Nature’s Flower Show: Check Out the Swamp Rose Mallow at Sand Ridge Nature Center

Swamp rose mallow at Sand Ridge Nature Center, a Cook County forest preserve. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The native swamp rose mallow has hit full bloom, its super-sized six-inch blossoms bursting forth in seemingly every shade of pink from the palest blush to saturated fuschia

It’s Official: 10 More Years of Lollapalooza in Chicago

(WTTW News)

The new contract will be in place for 2023 and run through 2032, with the potential for a five-year extension.

Carvana Back in Hot Water With State of Illinois, License Suspension Reinstated

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

The online used-car dealer has once again had its dealer’s license in Illinois suspended. The company’s construction of a glass “vending machine” for cars remains on hold in Skokie as a result.

Homicides, Shootings Decreased in July But Theft, Carjackings Continue to Skyrocket: Police

(WTTW News)

For the fifth consecutive month, the Chicago Police Department reported a decline in homicides from the same period a year prior, but that hasn’t translated into a reduction in other crimes.

More than 40 People Shot, 5 Killed in Weekend Gun Violence in Chicago: Police

(WTTW News)

A 16-year-old boy fatally shot in Brighton Park early Sunday morning was among five people killed by gunfire over the weekend in Chicago.

Despite Disappointment in Chicago, Great Lakes Piping Plovers Just Had One of Their Best Breeding Seasons in Decades

A file photo of a Great Lakes piping plover parent and chick. (Courtesy of Susan Szeszol)

The 2022 season may have been heartbreaking for Chicago’s piping plover lovers (RIP, Monty and Rose), but the news from across the Great Lakes was among the most encouraging in decades when it comes to the endangered shorebirds.

Captive Coyote at Center of ‘Ambassador’ Animal Controversy Will Remain at Cook County Forest Preserve But Get Bigger Digs

A coyote. (skeeze / Pixabay)

Complaints from animal rights advocates regarding the coyote, dubbed “Rocky,” prompted the forest preserve to review its ambassador animal program. A report was released Tuesday, outlining changes to the program, including a bigger enclosure for the coyote.

Check Out These ‘Victory Gardens’: Winners Announced in Chicago Bungalow Garden Contest

Winner of the Front Garden award, Nestor Rodriguez, Avondale. (Chicago Bungalow Association)

From planter boxes to koi ponds, these Chicago gardeners know how to create an oasis in the city. 

Rusty Patched Spotted During Backyard Bumble Bee Count. Here’s How to Join Buzz-Worthy Community Science Project

The rusty patched bumble bee, pictured here, was the first bee in the continental U.S. to receive an endangered species listing. More bumble bees are now being considered. (Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

The bee was logged at the outset of the fourth annual Backyard Bumble Bee Count, which kicked off Saturday and runs through Aug. 1.

Endangered Blanding’s Turtles Given Head Start on Survival Before Cook County Forest Preserve Release

A baby Blanding’s turtle, raised at Shedd Aquarium its first year, awaiting release into the wild, where the state-endangered species' population has been in steep decline. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Nearly a dozen baby Blanding’s turtles — a state-listed endangered species — were recently released into the swampy waters of a Cook County forest preserve wetland.

‘Shakespeare in the Parks’ Cancels Pair of Shows After Shooting During Thursday’s Performance

A past season of Shakespeare in the Parks. (Courtesy Chicago Shakespeare Theater)

Chicago Shakespeare has canceled its Friday and Saturday shows following a shooting during its Thursday night performance.

Baby Addax Antelope Born at Brookfield Zoo Could Help Bring Critically Endangered Species Back From the Brink

A baby addax calf, born July 2, with his mom, Simone, at Brookfield Zoo. (Jim Schulz / CZS-Brookfield Zoo)

The addax, a Saharan antelope, is threatened with extinction in the wild, where fewer than 100 exist. A baby just born at Brookfield Zoo is part of the species’ conservation plan.

Mane Event: Lions Are Back at Art Institute After Spa Vacation

One of the Art Institute’s iconic lions receiving a “spa treatment.” (Courtesy of Art Institute of Chicago)

After a month-long "spa vacation," the Art Institute of Chicago's lions returned to their posts Tuesday and are once again guarding the museum's Michigan Avenue entrance.

What’s Happened to Montrose Dunes Without Monty and Rose? Park District Says the Area Isn’t Being Neglected

Supporters of Montrose Dunes Natural Area say the site looks neglected, with invasive species taking hold. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Some people are concerned about what they say are deteriorating conditions at the high-quality habitat where the endangered plovers Monty and Rose raised their three successive broods of chicks between 2019 and 2021. 

20-Year Monitoring Survey Provides Birds-Eye View of Habitat Restoration Successes, and Work Still To Be Done

Charlotte Pavelka and Doug Reitz on bird monitoring duty, June 2022, at Captain Daniel Wright Woods. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

This simple act of monitoring the presence of breeding birds at specified sites across the Chicago region is how the Bird Conservation Network has, over the course of more than 20 years, methodically amassed a data set that would be the envy of any research institution.

115 Meteorites Land at the Field Museum, Offering a Peek at the History of the Solar System

One of the fossilized meteorites just unpacked at the Field Museum, July 11, 2022. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Monday was like Christmas in July at the Field Museum, where staff unpacked crates of newly arrived fossilized meteorites, holding 460-million-year-old secrets.

9-Year-Old Girl Drowns in Lake Michigan, Second Death in 3 Days

(WTTW News)

The girl drowned Tuesday in the lake waters off Gary, Ind. On Sunday, a 72-year-old man was pulled from the water off Indiana Dunes State Park. 

You Be the Judge: Vote for Chicago’s Best Bungalow Gardens

A past winner in the front garden category. (Chicago Bungalow Association)

Time to head to the polls once again, Chicagoans. Online voting is now open through Tuesday in the annual Bungalow Garden Contest.

Nature Is Front and Center in Proposed Museum Campus Makeover

Vision includes ‘rewilding,’ creation of Climate Lab

Finding uses for Soldier Field's plazas beyond gameday was one recommendation from the Museum Campus working group. (City of Chicago)

The Museum Campus working group released its report Thursday and among the big wins for nature is a vision that includes establishing a Great Lakes Climate Lab on the city’s shoreline, positioning Chicago as a global leader in developing resilient solutions for urban areas. 

Scientists at Morton Arboretum Out To Prove Whether Extinct Oak Species Still Exists

Scientists gather around what may be a lateleaf oak, thought to be extinct. In Big Bend National Park, May 2022. (Courtesy of U.S. Botanic Garden)

The lateleaf oak has confounded botanists since it was first discovered in the 1930s. Scientists have been hard-pressed to find a single surviving example in recent decades. But a new discovery, pending genetic testing by Morton Arboretum, could put the tree back on the map. 

Chicago Botanic Garden Offering Free Admission Through Sunday for Those in Need of Nature’s Healing

(Chicago Botanic Garden Photos)

“We are heartbroken by the act of violence in Highland Park on Monday,” a spokesperson for the garden said. “In times of crisis, nature can be healing.”

Illinois Parts Ways With Supreme Court on Climate Change: ‘Illinois Leaders Must Resist These Calls To Go Backward’

(Creative Commons /  © 2013, Jeremy Atherton)

Illinois environmental groups were quick to condemn the Supreme Court’s limits on the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, and placed the state in opposition to the justices’ stance. 

Back To Nature: How a Tiny Nonprofit Is Rewinding the Clock on 300 Acres of Illinois Farmland That Wants To Be Wetland

Thompson Road Farm, now owned by The Land Conservancy. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Climate change and the alarming trends of species extinction and habitat loss demand that conservation organizations think big. So The Land Conservancy of McHenry County stepped up its game.

Bidders Hit Bump in Road for Chicago’s Asphalt Contract. City Rejects Offers Due to Environmental Concerns

MAT Asphalt in McKinley Park (WTTW News)

Rejected bids included a $500 million offer from MAT Asphalt, which faced strong opposition from environmental justice advocates. The city announced it will issue a revised solicitation for asphalt production in the fall “to better address environmental and public health concerns.”

Everything You’ve Heard About Ticks Is Probably a Myth. Here’s What Everyone, Even Urbanites, Needs To Know

Prevent tick bites by wearing pants and long sleeves when heading into shady, wooded areas. (Kamaji Ogino / Pexels)

Researchers at Lincoln Park Zoo are surveying which ticks are present in the Chicago region, looking for clues about the effects of climate change and urban sprawl, and busting myths in the process.