A monarch butterfly cozies up to milkweed in a Chicago yard. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Aster Hasle, a conservation scientist at the Field Museum, said, “Our role in the Midwest is to build that population back up. There is a lot that we can do here to provide habitat that’s going to help.”

A volunteer pulls a freshwater mussel from the Chicago River, Dec. 12, 2023. (Patty Wetli / W

Freshwater mussels can be a river system’s best friend, but they’re missing from long stretches of the Chicago River. Here’s a look at one effort to reintroduce them.

Arnold Randall in a “Chicago Tonight” interview that aired Oct. 18, 2022. (WTTW News)
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From catching walleye to bringing restoration work out of the dark ages to passage of a groundbreaking tax hike, Arnold Randall reflects on his 13 years as general superintendent of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

Golden-winged warbler. (Alan Schmierer / Flickr Creative Commons)

Celebrate the golden-winged warbler while it’s still around. It’s suffered one of the steepest population declines of any songbird in the last half century.

(Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The grant was awarded through the America the Beautiful Challenge. The program, now in its second year, is funded in part by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

(Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The core principle of “leave the leaves” is to manage the leaves on site. It doesn’t mean to just leave them where they fell.

Trail maps are available at the forest preserve district's various nature centers. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

When people veer off designated trails, they damage vegetation, compact soil, contribute to erosion and also create pathways for new invasive plant species.

A black-crowned night heron, in its signature hunched stance, with long white streamers just visible. (Dulcey Lima / Unsplash)

The more scientists can learn about the Chicago colony of black-crowned night herons, the more they can help these birds help themselves. Because night herons are hanging on in Illinois by a thread.

Michael Davidson has been named president and CEO of the conservation organization Openlands. (Courtesy of Openlands)

The last time the conservation organization experienced a changing of the leadership guard, the year was 1988, Ronald Reagan was president, Mike Tyson was heavyweight champ, and floppy disks were still a thing.

Illinois Beach State Park boasts some of the highest quality remnant habitat in the Midwest, but it’s being threatened by invasive plant species. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

A kick-off event Sept. 16 is aimed at recruiting more volunteer stewards, whose work helps safeguard the nature preserve’s endangered and threatened species.

An endangered Bowmouth Guitarfish, one of three 11-month-old pups that has arrived at Shedd Aquarium. (Brenna Hernandez / Shedd Aquarium)

Bowmouth Guitarfish, also called Shark Rays, are hunted for their fins and thorns. Three rescued pups have arrived at Shedd Aquarium.

Bruno de Medeiros, assistant curator of insects, with just a handful of the beetles in the Field Museum’s collection. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Beetles, and weevils in particular, are thought of as destructive pests. Bruno de Medeiros, assistant curator of insects at the Field Museum, is upending those preconceptions.

Shedd Aquarium biologist Melissa Youngquist, checking in on wetland monitoring sites. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

This time of year, Shedd Aquarium biologist Melissa Youngquist can be found in the woods, sloshing through ponds in search of signs of amphibian life.

Recent vandalism at LaBagh Woods. Fencing designed to protect native shrubs from deer was torn apart. (Chicago Ornithological Society / Twitter)

A mystery vandal is once again undoing ecological restoration work at LaBagh Woods.

Lincoln Park Zoo's ancient bur oak, seen in fall 2022. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Crews are scheduled to begin removal of the ancient bur oak on May 1. The zoo is planning Arbor Day events on April 28 to give the tree a celebratory farewell.

Gary Swick and Jenni Kempf Schiavone of Friends of the Fox River, along the Fox in Algonguin, Ill., April 17, 2023. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

A new short documentary, “Watershed Warriors,” focuses on Friends of the Fox River and the progress the organization has made to reclaim the waterway as a natural resource for the people, wildlife and plants that live within its watershed.