wildlife

Have You Heard of Floating Gardens?

I’ve been on a volunteering kick lately.

After two beach cleanups in one week, I switched gears and spent Saturday morning with Urban Rivers planting floating gardens.

We planted a variety of native Illinois wetland plants into floating garden structures, which were then filled in with mulch.

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Basically, the goal of these “plant rafts” is to bring life back to the Chicago River.

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Once the structures are bolted together and placed in the Chicago River, they will create a cozy habitat for fish, birds, mammals, insects, and amphibians.

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Although I didn’t get to actually do any installing of the floating gardens via kayak, I am so excited to see them grow and flourish.

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There will be plenty more volunteer opportunities available once they are all in the water.

Check out their volunteer opportunities here.

What I am most excited for is kayaking the river for trash cleanups! šŸ˜‰ Apparently, I love picking up trash everywhere. Ha!

Wild Weather for the Wild Things Conference

Yesterday, it was over 60 degrees. In February. In Chicago.

A record high of 67 degrees was set on 2-17-17, destroying the previous record of 60 degrees set in 1880.

I did not get to spend much time outside in the unseasonably warm weather, though.

That was because I spent the entire day inside learning with other environmentalists/conservationists/naturalists at the Wild Things Conference.

 

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From the Wild Things Conference program

 

For the first time ever, the conference sold out of tickets a month before the event. The waitlist was over 300 people long. It goes to show how many people are starting to take action, and it was heartwarming to see.

 

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Packed room for the opening plenary session

 

I attended one sessionĀ on the importance of stories in conservation featuring Gavin Van Horn of the Center for Humans and Nature. My favorite term he used was reSTORYation.

“Science needs story.

Story needs science.”

-Gavin Van Horn

The next session, “Past, Present, and Future: Understanding Climate Change in the Chicago Region,” could easily be summed up with the below slide.

 

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Molly Woloszyn’s (climate specialist at the Illinois State Water Survey and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant at UIUC) popular presentation

 

The packed room had space for standing room only. So I stood and listened about how by midcentury, Chicago could be 4.4-4.7 degrees warmer and have a climate more like the southern city of Salem, IL.

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In the future, Chicago should be prepared for the following:

  • An increase in overnight low temperatures (that is bad for agriculture and humans)
  • An increase in annual precipitation of 3.2″-4″
  • More consecutive dry days (meaning longer periods between rain)
  • An increase in the intensity of precipitation (think big, quick storms)
  • A decrease in ice cover in the Great Lakes

Sounds pleasant…

 

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Composting available at the conference!Ā 

There were so many other sessions where I got to listen to passionate people present. Just a sample:

  • archeological sites within the Forest Preserve District of Cook County
  • storm water management case studies
  • the evolution of prescribed burns
  • environmental advocacy best practices

It was a really awesome day to be surrounded by so many people who care about wildlife and the environment.

I absolutely recommend keeping your eyes open for information on the 2019 Wild Things Conference.

I have a feeling it is going to be even bigger.