Stories by patty wetli

(Jacub Gomez / Pexels)

This Week in Nature: Stars Are Fading From View. Not Even Orion Can Compete With Streetlights

Looks like we’re going to have to come up with replacements for terms like “starstruck” and “starry-eyed.” Scientists say the visibility of stars is rapidly fading as light pollution increases.

(WTTW News)

Pullman National Monument Upgraded to National Historical Park — and the Name Change Makes a Big Difference

Monuments can be created by the stroke of a president’s pen, and undone by the same. As a national historical park, Pullman now has added protections.

(Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Chicago’s Urban Forestry Advisory Board Officially Takes Root With City Council Approval of Members

The board will help ensure the growth, maintenance and health of Chicago’s tree canopy for generations to come, officials said. The group’s first meeting could come as early as February.

(City of Chicago)

Voting Now Open to Name Chicago’s Snowplows. Salter Payton, Chance the Scraper and Little Dibbie All in the Running

The Department of Streets and Sanitation has announced the 50 finalists in the contest. Voting is open to Chicago residents through Jan. 31.

Netsch House, 1700 N. Hudson Ave. (Twitter / Chicago Department of Planning and Development)

Landmark Bid for '70s-Era Netsch House Could Redefine the 'Old' in Old Town

The preservation community is coming around to considering the 1970s and 1980s to be historic, ushering in a new wave of buildings up for landmark consideration.

A mountain lion, also known as a cougar, puma or panther. (Nicky Pe / Pexels)

This Week in Nature: Cougars on the Comeback Trail and Their Road Leads to the Midwest

Remember the pair of mountain lions (aka cougars, aka pumas, aka panthers) that wandered into Illinois last fall? Scientists say folks east of the Mississippi should expect more of such sightings.

(Andreas Hoja / Pixabay)

Move Over Bears, It’s Eagle Watching Season

January and February are prime months for bald eagle watching in Illinois, with some 3,000 of the raptors hanging out in the state during the winter.

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)

It's Not Written in (Lime)Stone, Yet, But Promontory Point Is One Step Closer To Becoming a Chicago Landmark

Supporters of Promontory Point can breathe a sigh of relief that the peninsula's much loved stair-step limestone wall is poised, finally, to become protected from attempts to replace it with concrete.

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’s Bid for Landmark Status Gets Preliminary Hearing Thursday

The road to city landmark status for Promontory Point starts at Thursday’s meeting of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. Supporters have been fighting to protect the lakefront peninsula for more than 20 years.

(WTTW News)

How Much COVID-19 Is in Your Wastewater? New Online Tracker Shares Illinois Data With Public

Wastewater sampling has been a key early-warning tool for detecting spikes in the spread of COVID-19, and now Illinois is making its data available to the public through an interactive online dashboard.

Zari, just days before giving birth. (Lincoln Park Zoo / Twitter)

It's Triplets! Lincoln Park Zoo Welcomes Three Lion Cubs

Lincoln Park Zoo announced it welcomed not one, not two, but three lion cubs on Monday. The zoo had been on lion watch since early December, when staff confirmed 4-year-old African lion Zari was pregnant.

(Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Chicago Forestry Board Nominees Announced After 18-Month Delay. ‘We Really Need This Board To Hit the Ground Running’

The six recommended appointees to the board, which was created in June 2021, all received unanimous support during a key committee hearing. Next up is a full Chicago City Council vote.

Jim Tibensky, a volunteer with Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, nudges a bald eagle to shore New Year's Day in Waukegan Harbor. (Courtesy Nat Carmichael)

Bald Eagle Rescued New Year’s Day Has Died, Wildlife Center Announces

"Despite promising signs of recovery the first 48 hours, the bird took a very rapid turn for the worst," Willowbrook Wildlife Center shared on social media.

(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Region)

This Week in Nature: A Michigan Wolf Went on a 4,200-Mile Walk. How’s Your Step Count?

A GPS collar allowed researchers to track the wolf from Michigan all the way to Manitoba, Canada. That's just one of the wild stories we followed this week.

(Lisa Fotios / Pexels)

Chicago’s Christmas Tree Recycling Program Is Open Fir Business

Live trees — well, not so live anymore — can be recycled at any one of 26 citywide locations, Jan. 7-21.

Jim Tibensky, a volunteer with Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, nudges a bald eagle to shore New Year's Day in Waukegan Harbor. (Courtesy Nat Carmichael)

Dramatic Bald Eagle Rescue New Year’s Day in Waukegan Harbor Captured on Video

Rescuing a bald eagle floating on ice in open water raises the stakes exponentially, but volunteers with Chicago Bird Collision Monitors proved up to the task with a New Year's Day recovery effort.

(Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Recyclable or Trash? We’ve Got the Dos and Don’ts for Christmas Wrap

We checked in with the experts at Streets and Sanitation, and here's what's accepted in the city's blue recycling carts and what isn't.

The annual “Christmas Around the World” exhibit at Museum of Science and Industry. (Credit: Heidi Peters / Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago)

All Is Still Merry and Bright: Holiday Events Going Strong Through New Year’s

There's still plenty of holiday merriment to be made through the New Year. 

A photo taken on Dec. 13, 2020, shows Jupiter (the bright "star" on the right) closing in on Saturn to the left. (Bill Ingalls / NASA)

Merry Cosmic Christmas. The Planets Are Aligning With the New Moon for Some Holiday Magic

Enjoy a cosmic Christmas, with all five naked-eye planets visible in the sky. The moon, Mercury and Venus will form a sparkling triangle on Christmas Eve. 

Zebra shark. (Brenna Hernandez / Shedd Aquarium)

This Week In Nature: Zebra Shark’s ‘Virgin Birth’ Could Hold Key to Species Preservation

From industrious sharks to the bird of the year, here’s what caught our attention this week on the climate and nature beat.

(Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Updating: Brutal Cold Grips Chicago, Temps Will Stay Below Zero

The snow total from Thursday was a mere 1.3 inches at O'Hare (though northwest Indiana and lower Michigan have been hammered with lake effect), but the real danger of this system was always the wind and cold, meteorologists said.

(WTTW News)

Chicago Public Schools Will Be in Session Thursday as Chicago Prepares for Bomb Cyclone

Classes are not canceled Thursday, CPS CEO Pedro Martinez announced. Chicago is expecting to get hit with a dangerous combination of high winds, extremely cold temperatures and blowing snow, creating whiteout conditions.

Chicago's new Climate Infrastructure Fund will support projects like the installation of renewable energy systems. (Los Muertos Crew / Pexels)

Chicago’s New Climate Infrastructure Fund Aims To Kick-Start Climate Action Among Nonprofits and Small Businesses

The fund will award grants in amounts ranging from $50,000 to $250,000 for projects, including energy efficiency upgrades, green infrastructure or the purchase of electric vehicles.

High winds and low visibility, not massive snow totals, are hallmarks of blizzards. (Hans / Pixabay)

What Exactly Is a Blizzard? Probably Not What You Think

Let’s talk ‘bomb cyclone’ while we’re at it.

What will be the hallmark of the impending Christmas blizzard of 2022? Probably not a lot of snow, but that’s not what blizzards are about anyway.

Neighbors, preservationists and park advocates are calling for the demolition of an unauthorized annex to the landmarked Receptory Building and Stable in Humboldt Park. The building is leased by the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, which began construction of an adjacent archive facility without permits. (Top photo: Patty Wetli / WTTW News; Bottom photo:

Growing Pressure for Park District To Demolish Unauthorized Museum Construction on Site of Landmarked Building in Humboldt Park

The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture leases a historic landmark building in Humboldt Park. It began construction on an adjacent archive facility without obtaining permits.

Motus antenna assembly at Ryerson Conservation Area. (Lake County Forest Preserves)

Lake County Forest Preserves Waiting for Signs of Life, Joins Global Tracking Network

Lake County Forest Preserves has now joined a global wildlife tracking network, expanding the ability of researchers to follow the movement of migratory birds through the Chicago region.