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West Ridge Nature Preserve - Opening Day

Family Nature Days Will Return in the Spring

We Thank the Many People Who Participated

Would you believe it? September 2016 marked the one-year anniversary of our nature preserve’s opening. During this inaugural period, our PAC launched an ambitious series of Saturday Family Nature Days.

The purpose: to provide fun, engaging activities that will allow area residents to explore the preserve, increase their understanding of our special habitats and animals, and convey the importance of preserving and protecting natural areas.

Under our Education and Program Committee, we successfully produced five sessions of this special event from May through September. There was also an additional Sunday program for neighborhood seniors and others who were unable to attend the regular Saturday sessions.

The monthly themes (birds, aquatic life, flying insects, trees and wildflowers, and mammals) inspired eight to ten different activities each time.

These activities included: crafts, building projects, birding techniques, plant and animal identification, fishing instruction, specimen examination, nature themed face painting, and monitoring and stewardship information.

Attendance varied by the month, averaging about 150 visitors. Most were families with young children or older neighborhood residents.

The PAC submitted and received a grant from the Friends of the Parks to fund these events.

September Family Nature Day Highlights

September marked the one-year anniversary of our opening. Thus, our last Family Nature Day of the year -- Saturday, September 24 -- was a birthday celebration.

Returning by popular demand were some of our most successful activities from previous Family Nature Days. Visitors fished, printed with vegetables, made popular bird and insect crafts, and enjoyed a StoryWalk that features work by 11-year-old Amanda Valenzuela. Amanda was present for a Meet-the-Author session. And, of course, there were cupcakes for all.

August Family Nature Day Highlights

At 8:00 a.m., the rain was still coming down. To set up or not set up, that was the question. Two hours later, the decision was made and we scrambled to get ready for the 130 people who came out in spite of questionable weather. And what a pleasant, relaxed event it was with an acoustic walk, nature printing, leaf and wildflower matching, prairie coloring, tree activities, face painting, and a construction zone.

July Family Nature Day Highlights

Our Family Nature Day pond theme proved to be one of the best yet, with more than 200 attending. The catch and release fishing activity resulted in frequent catches and accompanying cheers. It also provided an opportunity to learn about native fish in our recently stocked pond and the macro-invertebrates that serve as the food source for our smaller fish. Related activities included examining the parts of a semi-frozen fish, making a fish craft with real fish characteristics, looking at other types of pond life, and magnetic fishing in a small plastic pool for the little ones. One of our nature monitors provided visual and verbal information on tracking amphibians, butterflies, and odonates.

Seniors Attend Their Special Day

Seniors enjoyed the beauty of our West Ridge Nature Preserve on Sunday, September 25. Activities included bird and nature walks, nature writing, vegetable printing, snacks and more. We hope to make this first time event a regular feature next summer. 

Last Year's Efforts

Last year, you may have noticed our volunteer monitors making their rounds, check list in hand. They worked individually or in small groups. Our lead monitors attended special training sessions, learning to identify various species by sight and/or sound as well as learned about related weather conditions.

Kids' Fishing Clinics

Ranked High in Popularity 

Over 300 children attended our PAC sponsored fishing events. The enthusiasm was high at our eight fishing clinics and fishing stations at two Family Nature Days. 

Record catches included a:

  • Blue Gill -- 6.25"
  • Bullhead -- 11"
  • Carp -- 14 "

We look forward to continuing this fun, rewarding activity next fishing season.

Workdays Improved Our Preserve

Individuals and families rolled up their sleeves and pitched right in during our monthly Saturday workdays. 

In the past, the focus has been on cleaning up debris and removing weeds and invasive species. 

October Work Day

In October, however, the focus shifted. From an inauspicious beginning, we began with an enormous pile of mulch delivered by the Forest Preserve District early in the morning. A wonderful crew of 10 volunteers "barrowed" it load by load to the designated sites. By noon, we had mulched a new trail and the nature play area.

We also put some green fencing in place to block trails going down the steep face at the South Council Circle and collected some seeds.

Our continuing goal is to improve the native habitat for diverse plants, animals and birds while encouraging responsible use by people. We appreciate all of you who have helped.

Nature Preserve Winter Season

Winter Trees

By William Carlos Williams

All the complicated details

of the attiring and

the disattiring are completed!

A liquid moon

moves gently among the long branches.

Thus having prepared their buds

against a sure winter

the wise trees

stand sleeping in the cold.

Deer and Coyote

Our resident deer has finally ventured into the cemetery to join the other deer. A coyote has been circling the pond and crossing the ice. (see nature features)


Please, to protect last year's plantings and encourage migrating birds to return, stay on the paths and leave your dogs at home. The Chicago Park District signs in the preserve clearly state these rules.

We love our comfortable but relatively narrow paths because they preserve fragile wildlife and encourage responsible walking. Discouraged are activities that would disrupt those, young and old, who are enjoying the park alone or as families. 

Preserve Opening Attracts Crowd

A celebration for the opening of the West Ridge Nature Preserve took place on September 20th, 2015. Some 700 visitors streamed through the Ardmore Avenue gate, reflecting the day’s sunshine and warmth.

The mayor -- along with the 40th ward alderman, Chicago Park District officials, and our PAC president -- welcomed visitors with speeches and a ribbon cutting ceremony.

People of all ages explored the preserve and sampled the activities. Our PAC sponsored a welcome table and offered a number of activities.

PAC Contributes to Science Through Wildlife Monitoring

Our West Ridge Nature Preserve PAC embraces the citizen science wildlife monitoring programs. These significant programs will be a major focus this spring and summer, requiring many volunteers as we create a Citizen Science Center.

We invite you to attend an official training session or one of our in-house study groups to boost your confidence in identifying species.

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