WANDERING IN WOODFORD
Written and Photography By Erin Herbez
ParkLands invited the public to Letcher Basin on June 3rd of this year for an open house style event. 50 friends joined us for a beautiful day on the prairie. We had several area partners present information including: The Ecology Action Center, Illinois Wild Ones, The Illinois Native Plant Society, Master Naturalists, Dr. Ben Sadd of Illinois State University and Guy Fraker. Dr. Ben Sadd led participants through the prairie to identify bumble bees, Eric Smith of IDNR discussed the mussel community on the Mackinaw River, Don Schmidt led a plant identification walk, and Guy Fraker gave a fascinating talk on the historical relevance of the area, including Abraham Lincoln’s use of Wyatt’s Ford. Thank you to everyone that attended!
ParkLand’s enjoyed a larger-than-expected gathering and perfect weather conditions for the Wildflower Walk on May 5th of this year. To accommodate all attendees, experts Dr. Joe Armstrong (Emeritus Professor of Botany) and Dr. Roger Anderson (Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Ecology) both led groups across the Merwin Preserve to explore the site and learn about local wildflowers. Janice Turner (an Illinois native plant expert) also helped lead a walk and provided her expertise. About the large turnout, ParkLands Director Jim Franks mentioned “The last time I did a wildflower walk a few years ago, I was the only participant. I had Dr. Dale Birkenholz all to myself. So, having 50 people show up was a great turnout.” President Dan Deneen noted that the great turnout was in response to the ParkLands Outreach committee’s hard work in the last few years. Walkers were able to see many different native species of flora and learned a bit of biology along the way. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the highlight of the walk was the spring bloom of bluebells. The walk took place at the peak time of year to see these native blossoms in their full glory, which create a stunning sea of blue across the woodland floor.
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