Tag Archives: perserve the fox river

Bald Eagles on the Fox River Update

Yesterday I put up a post documenting my 10 mile drive from Yorkville to Montgomery along the Fox River looking for bald eagles. When I had got to 20 of them, I quit counting and enjoyed just looking for them.

Relatively early this morning I took that same 10 mile drive and decided to let the OCD side of me count every single eagle I saw.

Last night we had temperatures down into the single digits out my way and when I headed out it was 12 degrees. I was a bit surprised to see one long stretch of the Fox River that was locked up with ice yesterday, suddenly have a wide open stretch of flowing water. Kind of flies in the face of logic, but the eagles liked it. Saw three there today where yesterday there were none.

All total I saw 39 bald eagles in this short 10 mile drive up the river. I’m sure there are many more. This 10 mile stretch of the river has long stretches that are inaccessible by car. Over the years, during the warmer months, I’ve waded just about all of it in pursuit of smallmouth bass, but with temps in the teens I couldn’t gather up the stamina to make the long hikes through tougher terrain just to look for eagles. A heartier soul with a good map should be able to figure out how to get to these more remote stretches.

There were quite a few others out early to do the same as me. Cars were moving slowly up Route 25, more cars were parked along the side of the road and people with cameras, tripods and binoculars were lined up to get a better look at the eagles. With the cloudless skies this morning, the birds were pretty well lit up in the sunshine and much easier to spot.

This weekend is Eagle Watch Weekend at Starved Rock State Park. I know a few people that head down to that event every year. With what little competitive blood I have in me, I am looking forward to hearing their eagle sighting reports and hoping it’s half of what’s been seen so much closer to home. That’ll teach them.

No pictures today. All of the eagles seen were on the opposite side of the river and I’ve grown accustomed to the limitations of my camera equipment.

Photo courtesy of Larry Granat and his Facebook page The Kendall County Bird Page.

A Walk Along a Creek

Apparently, I went for a walk along this same creek and through these same woods on April 11, 2010. The pictures I took that day look a lot like the pictures I took today.

I was here less than a week ago. A few of these flowers were up, but not like this. When the whole forest floor is covered, it looks like a blue mist coming through the woods.

I don’t know what normal is, but compared to a year ago we are about a month behind. That would explain why I was only able to land a couple of smallies today. Still not up here. Since I was tired of taking arms length shots of fish, I never bothered taking fish shots.

For as beautiful as it is, this is a brutal hike. There is no level ground. Beneath this shimmering blue miniature canopy are holes, ditches, tree limbs and beaver punji sticks. You do not look elegant wandering through here amongst the flowers, more like a lost, stumbling drunk.

When I wander through here, I change directions on a whim. Always hoping that the new direction will make my life easier. It never does. So when I came across a feather lying on the rocks of a narrow creek bed, I couldn’t help but think of the odds of me finding this. I even crossed this little creek in a spot I normally don’t.

I thought I knew what kind of feather this was, but looking it up made matters worse. It could be a turkey, a red tail hawk or a great horned owl. They all look similar. In my own typical fashion, I gave up trying to identify it. It’s a feather. A nice looking one.

An hour later, stumbling through another section of the woods, I came across another identical feather. Again, down a path I normally don’t take.

Maybe I should go play the lotto.

I first took a picture of the following tree around 9 years ago. It sits sentinel at a bend in the creek. Behind me and to the right is a 50 foot tall, almost shear bluff. When the sun hits this just right, the tree lights up against the deep blue of the sky. I think I have more pictures of this tree than anything else I’ve taken pictures of while out exploring. Three or so years ago there was a massive flood through here that completely changed how this section of the creek looks. The flood took down all the trees around this one. I’ll be disappointed if I ever come here and it’s gone.

Because of how much I wander through the woods this time of year, I have always searched for morels. Those tasty fungi that apparently sprout everywhere in Illinois except for where I wander. In 15 years, I’ve never found one.

I do find a lot of the following. Like usual, I never bothered looking up what they are. I have no clue, nor do I care, what there name is. But I may have to do that. I want to know if I can eat them.

Hmmm, they didn’t say they’re edible, but they did say on the big ones you can count rings on them like rings on a tree to determine their age. I looked at the picture, but didn’t bother looking at the name. I typed in “plate like tree fungus” and the picture came up. That’s funny, to me anyway.

When I got to the end of the hike I sat along the creek for a bit. The frogs were out and singing loudly. Carp and suckers were breaking the surface of the long slow pool. I took a couple of minutes of video of this and caught a couple of the rings of surfacing fish. Only I have no clue how to deal with video. So, I have two big video files sitting on my computer. In typical me fashion, I’ll probably never teach myself how to deal with them.

Some day when I’m gone my kids will be rummaging around my computer, open those files and the sound of frogs will greet them. They’ll sit there watching and listening for a minute or two and eventually see the ring of the fish appear on the surface of the water. And that’s it, nothing else.

Then they’ll sit back in the chair while staring blankly at the screen, chuckle to themselves and mumble . . . he really was an idiot.

Kane County Forest Preserve District Referendum

A last minute reminder from Dan Lobbes of The Conservation Foundation.

As you probably know, The Conservation Foundation is helping run the campaign for the Kane County Forest Preserve District referendum on April 5. That’s next Tuesday! We are encouraging everyone to not only vote in the election, but hopefully to vote Yes for the referendum. Would you help us get out the vote?

Whether you are conservative, liberal, Republican, Democrat, Independent, old, young, a woman, a man, thoughtful or impulsive, you should vote Yes for the Kane Forest Preserve referendum on April 5.

But I hate taxes. You should vote yes for the referendum. The Forest Preserve District typically buys land that could be developed into residential subdivisions. The $1.10 per month for a fixed time period is far less than the many dollars per month permanent cost for a new school, roads, sewer, water, fire, police, electricity, etc. to service the new subdivisions.

But I think we should concentrate on improving the economy. You should vote yes for the referendum. Scenic beauty equals a stronger economy. You can see evidence of that in the stores and restaurants in the towns up and down the Fox River valley. Also, studies throughout the country have shown that managed open space equals better and more stable property values.

But I want our tax money used in the wisest way possible. You should vote yes for the referendum. The Forest Preserve District has had overwhelming public support in its previous open space referenda. The District has made careful, strategic acquisitions and leveraged the funds with more than $45 million in earned interest as well as private, state and federal grant funds. A powerful combination of factors makes this the right time for a modest referendum: the low cost of this referendum ($1.10 per month for the average home) will yield a very high return, as land prices and interest rates are the lowest they’ve been in many years.

Well, I do like to be outdoors sometimes. You should vote yes for the referendum. Acquisitions and improvements will mean more hiking, biking, fishing, birding, wandering, gazing, listening, wondering, laughing, appreciating, and just-plain-breathing opportunities for Kane County residents.

And I do think a healthy environment makes our quality of life better. You should vote yes for the referendum. Clean water, clean air, enhanced flood control, wildlife habitat, more recreational opportunities – these are all good for us now and leave a better world for our children and grandchildren.

You should vote yes for the Kane Forest Preserve referendum on April 5. You can’t afford not to.

Dan Lobbes
Director of Land Protection

A view from the Fox River

A Citizen’s Guide to Preserving the Fox River

Udate 3/14/11
The April 1, 2011 deadline for advertising in the book has some flexibility. If you’re interested, all the contact information is in the post below.

If you live, work, fish and hunt somewhere in the Fox Valley, please take the time to look this over, along with the associated links. They are putting together a coffee-table style book that will have a run of 25,000 copies and will be distributed through out the Fox Valley. They have an April 1, 2011 deadline for sponsorship and advertising opportunities for the book. Seems worth it if you have a business, club or group that is looking for a new advertising venue.

On February 1st a note came up on Facebook from The Conservation Foundation:

A Citizen’s Guide to Preserving the Fox River

We are starting a new education and outreach effort to preserve the beautiful Fox River:  “A Citizen’s Guide to Preserving the Fox River”

Our overall goal with this project is to engage more local residents in protecting their Fox River.  This is a new project that will be kept alive through the ongoing work of The Conservation Foundation and the Fox River Ecosystem Partnership.  We will increase the overall awareness of the Fox River in the lives of the people who need it, use it, and rely on it for their quality of life; and inspire residents to “take action” by making changes to their lives and properties that will benefit the Fox River.

For the past 5 years I have done virtually nothing regarding Fox River conservation efforts. I decided when I saw this that I would get back in touch with these groups. I worked with all of them years ago when there was a big push for dam removal on the Fox. My role back then was to get the angling and hunting communities involved not only in the dam removal initiatives, but in Fox River conservation efforts in general. I’m hoping to reach out to the same fishing and hunting groups with this new project.

I got the following from Brook McDonald, President/CEO of The Conservation Foundation when I contacted him to let him know I’d be interested in helping. It helps that he is a kayaking fanatic and loves fishing rivers and creeks:

As you know, since the DNR has been sliced to hell, many of the ecosystem partnerships have gone somewhat dormant.  The Fox River Ecosystem Partnership (FREP) wants to remain active.  The Conservation Foundation has always been involved in the FR, but mostly in the lower stretches.  Frankly, we have spent the majority of the past 20 years focusing on the DuPage River in DuPage (both branches) and now working on the lower DuPage in Will County.

When this current project idea came up, it was an opportunity for both TCF and FREP to work on something together to benefit the Fox River.  FREP works on a comprehensive watershed approach to the river, while this project is focused on some of the education/outreach goals in the watershed plan. 

For this project, we are working directly with Becky Hoag, who is the “staff person” for FREP and she is in charge of the web site www.preservethefox.org.  She’s just getting started.  For the magazine, we are working with Paul and Valerie Burd from Yorkville.  They do all of the local municipal magazines up and down the river.  Valerie does much of the writing and layout design, and Paul does the photography and helps me with some ad sales.  Dan Lobbes is organizing all of the conservation organizations and local river communities to help promote the project, in particular the web site and magazine pick up locations.  We have a couple other people helping on various tasks, too.

The specific goals of this project are to increase awareness of the wonderful virtues of the river, and to get people to take some sort of action that will benefit the river, even if it’s as simple as installing a rain barrel on their downspout and hope they understand the link to that and the river.  The more people know about the magazine and the web site, the more people will, hopefully, want to do something.  In addition to these outcomes, we also will be building 2-3 community rain gardens in river communities and certifying a bunch of “environmentally-friendly” yards/properties through our Conservation @ Home program.

It sounds like your contacts in the media, and “hook and bullet” crowd would be beneficial.  I can see links to other projects we are working on, too, on the Fox River, particularly in Kendall and LaSalle. Hopefully, this project will engage enough people that other projects will develop as a result, and breathe new life in the effort to preserve the Fox!

Brook McDonald, President/CEO
The Conservation Foundation
10S404 Knoch Knolls Road
Naperville, IL 60565
(630) 428-4500, ext. 12

I’ve already contacted Becky Hoag at Fox River Ecosystem Partnership and it looks like Dan Lobbes, Director of Land Preservation at TCF, is going to be the lead person on this project. I’ve worked with both of them extensively in the past on the dam removal issues on the Fox and even going back 15 years when I helped get Salt Creek Watershed Network off the ground.

Dan sent me the following with some info he was requesting. I’ll be pulling together the information I have and passing it on, I hope those that are interested that I don’t know will contact him directly:

Would you be able to put together contact information for some of the hook & bullet groups in the Fox Valley? This project covers the Fox from the Wisconsin border to the south end of Kendall County. I’m planning on sending a letter describing the project and asking for their support, whether it’s just promoting it to their membership, distributing the free magazine or actually buying a small ad or something. I’d need a person’s name, the address and if possible an email address as well.
Anything you can do would help.

Dan Lobbes
Director of Land Preservation
The Conservation Foundation
10S404 Knoch Knolls Road
Naperville, IL  60565
630-553-0687 x301

Though I know a lot of the fishing and hunting groups in the area, I don’t belong to any one group anymore. I do know they are out there and paying attention. If all you can do is help spread the word on this with the appropriate contact info, that would be great.

Sorry for being so long winded on this, but what else is new for me.

I think what they are trying to do is pretty cool. I’ve noticed in the past 5 years that there just aren’t that many people out along the river in the stretches I go to. I run into virtually no one while out fishing and wandering around. I went 2 years recently without running into a single angler while out wading, and I was going a good half dozen times a month. These are stretches where I’ve had over a hundred guys out for guiding and fishing classes, as well as talking about them endlessly for the past 15 years.

Pass this along if you can. Sometimes that’s the best you can do. Would be good to see the angling and hunting groups participate. We do have a vested interest in the health of the waters and waterways of where we fish and hunt after all.