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South Works. (Eric Allix Rogers / Preservation Chicago)

The lakefront is arguably Chicago’s crown jewel, but that status is threatened, according to Preservation Chicago, which placed the lakefront on its annual endangered list for 2021, citing threats including development of the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park and erosion from rising lake levels.

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Midewin, the first national tallgrass prairie in the U.S., was established Feb. 10, 1996, celebrating its 25th anniversary. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The 18,000-acre restoration site continues to evolve, as this home of the former Joliet Arsenal gradually returns to its native prairie state. 

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Lauren Umek of the Park District and research assistant Alifya Saify at Big Marsh Park. (Courtesy of Chicago Park District)

Portions of Big Marsh Park were once heaped high with waste from the area’s now defunct steel mills. The soil has since been remediated, and now the Chicago Park District is working to find out if native plants can grow and thrive there.  

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President Joe Biden delivers remarks on climate change and green jobs, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo / Evan Vucci)

In the most ambitious U.S. effort to stave off the worst of climate change, President Joe Biden signed executive orders Wednesday to transform the nation’s heavily fossil-fuel powered economy into a clean-burning one, pausing oil and gas leasing on federal land and targeting subsidies for those industries.

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Headwaters of Bubbly Creek and the Racine Avenue Pump Station. (Courtesy of USGS)

Congress authorized a plan from the Army Corps of Engineers to restore the Chicago River’s South Fork, a 1.25-mile stretch more familiarly known as Bubbly Creek. Now actual dollars need to follow. 

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In this Aug. 28, 2019 file photo, a Monarch butterfly flies to Joe Pye weed, in Freeport, Maine. (AP Photo / Robert F. Bukaty)

The problem, sometimes called the insect apocalypse, is like a jigsaw puzzle. And scientists say they still don’t have all the pieces, so they have trouble grasping its enormity and complexity and getting the world to notice and do something. 

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Montrose Beach Dunes Natural Area on the left, and the proposed section of Montrose Beach that would be incorporated into the protected area. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Chicago’s birding community is already preparing for the return of Monty and Rose, the piping plovers that captured national attention two summers ago when they made the surprising choice to nest on Chicago's lakefront. But will their favored habitat be secure in 2021?

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In this April 6, 2017 file photo, strong winds send huge waves at the Lake Michigan shoreline at South Haven Michigan. (Mark Bugnaski / Kalamazoo Gazette via AP, File)

A program that has pumped $2.7 billion into healing long-term injuries to the Great Lakes environment has received authorization from Congress to continue another five years.

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A monarch butterfly on butterfly milkweed. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Region / Flickr)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the monarch butterfly warrants inclusion on the endangered species list but due to a lack of resources is being wait-listed behind higher-priority plants and animals.

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Cardinal. (tlparadis / Pixabay)

The National Audubon Society’s annual bird count is underway. Now in its 121st year, the tally gives researchers and conservationists a good picture of how North America’s bird populations are changing.

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In this June 2, 2019, file photo, a fresh monarch butterfly rests on a Swedish Ivy plant soon after emerging in Washington. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster, File)

Trump administration officials are expected to say this week whether the monarch butterfly, a colorful and familiar backyard visitor now caught in a global extinction crisis, should receive federal designation as a threatened species.

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Former farmland within the Grant Woods Forest Preserve will become a demonstration site for climate-adapted seeds. (Courtesy of Lake County Forest Preserves)

Lake County Forest Preserves is launching an ambitious conservation research project to determine whether it’s possible to preserve natural areas by proactively preparing for climate change. 

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(Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Is there a middle ground between obliterating leaves and letting nature take its course? We asked an expert from the Chicago Botanic Garden.

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Sandhill cranes. (ladymacbeth / Pixabay)

More than 25,000 migrating sandhill cranes are making a pit stop at Indiana’s Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area. The bird’s numbers have rebounded thanks to wetland conservation efforts, but now climate change threatens to undo that progress. 

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The Cook County Forest Preserves have offered respite during the pandemic. (Forest Preserve District of Cook County / Facebook)

Throughout the pandemic, nature has proved its worth as an outlet and resource, benefiting people’s physical, emotional and mental well-being. Now the question is, will people return the favor?

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Monarch butterflies migrate en masse, but they aren’t social creatures, scientists say. (Mageephoto / Pixabay)

Traveling more than 2,000 miles every year, the migration journey of monarch butterflies links the United States and Mexico in a way no trade agreement or cultural exchange ever could.