Solar birds and bees

Legislation to encourage the planting of natural habitat for butterflies, bees and birds in unused ground areas of solar energy installations has been signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

The legislation was sponsored by State Sen. Jason Barickman, of Bloomington, and State Rep. Tom Bennett, of Gibson City. Their districts include Iroquois, Ford and Livingston counties in The Daily Journal circulation area.

“Increasing the amount of habitat available for honeybees and butterflies is good for the environment, growers, and economic growth,” Barickman said. “We have an opportunity to add substantial habitat acres by creating guidelines that will assist interested solar site owners and operators to convert otherwise wasted land into natural habitat.”

The law encourages growing habitat in solar installations to support dwindling monarch butterfly and honey bee populations in the state.

It creates standards that will allow the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to score how friendly a solar site is to such pollinators.

Standards will focus on the use of native perennial vegetation and habitat that is beneficial to pollinators and birds, while reducing storm water runoff, and erosion.

Pond management

Illinois Department of Natural Resources regional fisheries administrator Rob Miller will present a pond management workshop at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, at Dale DeYoung’s pond at 3528 E. 3000N Road (Armour Road) east of Bradley.

The program is sponsored by the Kankakee County Soil and Water Conservation District, IDNR and Logan Hollow Fish Farm. Miller will also discuss fish species selection, stocking rates, aquatic plant control and other pond management topics and will answer questions after the demonstration.

Please RSVP by phoning Emily Janes at the SWCD office at 815-937-8940 ext. 3 or email Emilie.Janes@il.nacdnet.net.

Open space grants

Now through Oct. 1, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is now accepting applications for grants through the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development program and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The programs are for local government acquisition and development of land for open space properties.

Consult the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov for more information or call the IDNR Grants main line at 217-782-7481.

Caterpillar hike

The Forest Preserve District of Will County will offer a family friendly “Caterpillar Hike,” 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, at the Four Rivers Environmental Education Center at Channahon.

Learn more about the behavior of caterpillars and then venture out on a 1-mile hike in search of caterpillars common to our area. The free program is for ages 5 and older. Register by Tuesday, Sept. 11, at ReconnectWithNature.org or by calling 815-722-9470.

Sands work days

Volunteer work days to collect seed from native flowers and grasses will be held 9-noon Saturday, Sept. 8 at The Nature Conservancy’s Kankakee Sands area, between Lake Village and Morocco in Indiana.

The seed will be used for plantings in the Conrad Station Savanna. “While we are collecting, there’s no telling what we will see…flowers, butterflies, birds,” TNC’s Alyssa Nyberg wrote. “After harvesting the seeds, we will transport them to our seed barn facility for drying and planting this winter. The workday is very family friendly and appropriate for all ages and abilities. No experience necessary.”

Fleece and wool clothing are not recommended because seeds stick to them and are a challenge to remove. Feel free to bring your lunch and have a picnic on the prairie or hike a trail at Kankakee Sands after the workday. RSVPs appreciated. Contact Alyssa Nyberg by email at anyberg@tnc.org or call 219-866-1706 for more information and to RSVP.

Brunch with bison

A “Brunch with the Bison” event will be held at noon Saturday, Sept. 8 at the Kankakee Sands’ Bison Viewing Area and Bogus Island of U.S. Route 41 north of between Lake Village and Morocco, Ind.

Bring your favorite foods and snacks to share with other bison enthusiasts. The spotting scope will be on-hand for some up-close viewing of the bison. Meet at the Bison Viewing Area. Contact Dale (dalero6237@sbcglobal.net) for more information.

The Bison Viewing Area is near the Sands headquarters, off U.S. Route 41, between Lake Village and Morocco, Ind. Take county road 400N west off Route 41 to county road 400W to the bison overlook area.

From State Line Road in Illinois, take Newton County Road 100N to 400W, then north to the bison area.

The bison have been moved to the north pasture. The Wet Prairie Trail, in the north pasture, is now closed for the duration of the fall and winter and will reopen when the bison are back in the south pasture.

Secret Lives of Bees

An interactive exhibition, “Bee-lieve it or Not! The Secret Lives of Honey Bees” will be at the Forest Preserve of Will County’s Plum Creek Nature Center through Nov. 30.

Created by the Purdue University Agriculture Exhibit Design Center, the honey bee habitat and interactive exhibit gallery provides a learning experience and educational video game about the amazing lives of these important pollinators

It is brought to the Forest Preserve with funding from The Nature Foundation of Will County.

The free program is open 10 a.m-a4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and noon-4 p.m. Sundays.

The nature center is in the Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve, on Goodenow Road, off Illinois Route 1 midway between Beecher and Crete. Phone 708-946-2216

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