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"Chicago Transit Hikes" showcases trails accessible via CTA, Metro or the South Shore Line. (Credits: Patty Wetli / WTTW News; Belt Publishing; Lindsay Welbers)

A new guidebook showcases the region’s best hiking trails accessible via the CTA, Metra or the South Shore Line. Because someday, we’ll ride trains again.

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A Chicago police vehicle blocks the track at Mandrake Park on the city’s South Side. (WTTW News)

Despite restricted access to the lakefront and its adjacent parks during the pandemic, most Chicago parks are supposed to be open. Why some residents and park advocates are concerned about equitable access to these much-needed spaces.

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Campgrounds at Illinois state parks are reopened, with new guidelines in place. (Kelle Cruz / Flickr)

First of all, take note that “reopened” doesn’t mean “back to normal.” Guidelines, including limiting campsites and campfires to registered occupants, are in place.

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(Bolanu Teslaru Andrei / Pixabay)

Chicago Animal Care and Control and PAWS Chicago pivoted to online pet adoptions when Illinois’ stay-at-home order was issued. We check in on how that’s been going — and how else the pandemic has impacted animal shelters.

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Do these look like weeds? Native plants can create a beautiful landscape that's more eco-friendly than grass. (Ron Frazier / Flickr)

People have been spending a lot of time in their yards, and it seems that’s led to plenty of folks jumping on the native plant bandwagon, if a sold-out series of webinars is any indication.

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The Crown Fountain in Millennium Park is the type of amenity that earned Chicago’s parks top ParkScore marks. (R Boed / Flickr)

In an annual ranking by The Trust for Public Land, Chicago’s park system came in 10th out of the nation’s 100 largest cities, earning high marks for accessibility and amenities.

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(Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay)

Join Chicagoans and their pooches across the city each night at 8 p.m. to show your support for health care workers, first responders and essential employees by howling.

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The bumble bee is one of hundreds of species of bees native to Illinois. (Judy Gallagher / Flickr)

The United Nations created World Bee Day to raise awareness of these pollinators and the threats they face. The honey bee may get all the glory, but there are 400-500 species of bees native to Illinois. 

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Dandelions are an important food source for pollinators, especially in the spring. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The dandelion — a once-prized plant that gardeners used to exhibit at county fairs — now holds the title of Public Lawn Enemy No. 1. But is this reputation deserved?

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Look for an American goldfinch during Saturday's Big Day birding event. (Ken Gibson / Flickr)

This weekend, people around the world will report their bird sightings as part of a massive citizen-science project. Here’s how it works.

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Brookfield Zoo welcomed a litter of seven African painted dogs in January, and is leaving the name of one of the pups up to the public. (Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society)

The African painted dog was born in January and still needs a name. Brookfield Zoo has four options, with voting open to the public through May 20.

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In this Dec. 30, 2019, photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, a dead Asian giant hornet is photographed in a lab in Olympia, Wash. (Quinlyn Baine / Washington State Department of Agriculture via AP)

The world’s largest hornet, a 2-inch killer dubbed the “Murder Hornet” with an appetite for honey bees, has been found in Washington state, where entomologists were making plans to wipe it out.

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In this March 24, 2020 photo, provided by Conner Brown, he is seen using binoculars to look for birds in Cedar Island, Maryland. (Elizabeth Wright / Courtesy of Conner Brown via AP)

With coronavirus restrictions dragging on, interest in bird-watching has soared as bored Americans notice a fascinating world just outside their windows. 

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Geese are more relaxed this spring with fewer humans around, researchers say. (Jocelyn Piirainen / Flickr)

With fewer humans out and about during the coronavirus pandemic, Canada geese are more relaxed during this spring’s nesting season, according to researchers at Ball State University. 

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This undated photo provided by Michael Thomas in April 2020 shows a clouded sulphur butterfly in Cromwell, Conn. (Mike Thomas via AP)

The world has lost more than one quarter of its land-dwelling insects in the past 30 years, according to researchers whose big picture study of global bug decline paints a disturbing but more nuanced problem than earlier research.

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April 22 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. (qimono / Pixabay)

Environmental organizations have had to scale back plans for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Get ready for lots of livestreams and calls for digital action this week. Here’s a sampling of what’s on offer.

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