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West Ridge Nature Preserve - Opening Day

Family Nature Days Will Return in the Spring

We Thank the Many Families Who Participated

Would you believe it? 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.

Activities were partially funded through a $500 grant from the Chicago Parks Foundation.

October Work Day

From inauspicious beginnings, we started with just a pile of mulch, delivered to the Nature Play Area. We started moving the mulch at 9am. The whole crew worked hard and by noon the pile was gone and the mulch was spread.

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. 

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. In October, however, the focus shifted. A wonderful crew of 10 volunteers unloaded an enormous pile of mulch from a Forest Preserve District truck and "barrowed" it 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 Seasonal Announcements

Fall is here. The nights are cooler and bright colored leaves will be replacing the colorful wildflowers we have been enjoying. Our popular Family Nature Days will go into hibernation at the end of September to return again in late spring. However, we will continue our educational outreach. Over the next few months we plan to reach out through student and teacher field trips as well as school and community presentations. Plans for an even better Nature Play Area are in the works.

Squirrels are already stockpiling food for the winter, some of the birds will be leaving for warmer havens and our resident deer has grown a full set of antlers.

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 continue to 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, some continuous and some at specific times during the day.

PAC activities included the following: StoryWalk, I Spy nature hunt, mammal specimen table, guided tour, writing workshop, and Yoga. The Chicago Park District and North Park Nature Center provided fishing demonstrations, crafts, and a butterfly release.

Our PAC welcomes continued use and protection of the preserve by neighbors and nature lovers. Plans for future activities are in the works.

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