March 28: Community Stewardship Workday

24 Mar

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Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday for the first workday of 2015! The dunes are laying low: grasses matted down from heavy snow and frozen wetlands, and a great missing foredune. Mosses are sucking up the snow melt and pushing out sporophytes.

We’ll survey the effects of winter and pick up trash that has been tossed on shore and blown into the nature area.   Join us this Saturday March 28 from 10am-12pm. 

Remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: it may be cold and windy! Sturdy shoes, long pants and water are recommended. Tools, equipment, and snacks will be provided. Contact Alison Anastasio at alison.anastasio@gmail.com for questions and to RSVP.

Also of interest:
Attend a meeting TONIGHT to give your input on the framework plan for our nearest park neighbor- Park 566, just on the northeast corner of the USX site. Join your community members and others interested in shaping the fate of this burgeoning park TONIGHT! ( Tuesday March 24rd at 6:30 pm) in the Rainbow Beach Field House. A flyer is attached.

Rainbow Beach Park runs parallel to South Shore Drive from 75th-79th Streets.
By foot, walk east from South Shore Dr. on 77th St.
By car, you can only access the park at the southern end.
From the north/west, follow Hwy 41 east as it splits from South Shore Drive at 79th St. Turn left into the park at Farragut.
From the south, follow Hwy 41 north and turn right on Farragut, just before the intersection of 79th/South Shore.
Once in the park, go past the stop sign and water filtration plant and turn right at the next opportunity, into the parking lot before the Field House. Go to the southeast end of this lot and park. Meet at the entrance to the Nature Area, which is located at the southern end of the beach (look for the banner!).

RBD winter announcements

22 Jan

Happy New Year! Even though our stewardship work at RBD is on winter hiatus, there are some things around town you still might be interested in.

-Volunteer Training Assessment Survey via The Nature Conservancy
In response to a growing interest in regional training and shared learning opportunities for volunteer stewardship, The Morton Arboretum and The Nature Conservancy have joined in partnership to develop a survey to establish baseline information around current volunteer training and interests. The results will be used to identify strengths, gaps and opportunities that will guide the development of regional training priorities and education programs. Please take a few moments to complete the survey ASAP. Results will be shared in the winter 2015 and will include collective responses for each question. If you would like to receive a copy of the results of the survey, please add your email at the end of the survey and we will send you a summary of the results. Take a moment to complete the survey. Start Survey Here

-Public meeting about our closest park! (see attached flyer and distribute widely)

    Park 566 (USX)

Wednesday, February 5th, 6:30pm
Rainbow Beach Park Field House

Please join us for the first public meeting to discuss the planning process for Park 566, located between 79th and 87th St. We want to hear you vision for the park!

-Other restoration and stewardship opportunities in the area (winter is the best season for brush-cutting and burn piles)

via Calumet Stewardship Initiative
via Habitat 2030
via Cook County Forest Preserve District

Park 566 Public Meeting Flyer

Dunes are dynamic!

21 Jan

Remember that big storm on Halloween weekend?  There was some snow, and heavy rain and waves from Lake Michigan closed part of Lake Shore Drive.

While we know marram grass as the ‘dune-builder’ — because its roots hold fast, collect the blowing sand, and help the dune grow — sometimes the forces of nature are even stronger and the dune’s inner connective tissue are broken.

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Follow up: October 25 workday

16 Nov

The Opuntia project is off to a great start. We are monitoring the native prickly pear population at RBD and have marked and collected data for more than 500 plants. (The population is estimated to be about 1500 plants.)

Many hands make light work, and our dedicated volunteers did a fantastic job in this first part of the project!

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October 25: Community Stewardship Workday

21 Oct

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Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday for the last workday of the season! We’ll record data for our marked prickly pear plants, collect some seeds, and reflect on the incredible work volunteers have done this year.

Join us this Saturday October 25 from 10am-12pm.

Please remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: there is no shade in the hilly, uneven dunes area so wear sturdy shoes and bring a hat, sunscreen, and water. Tools, training, and snacks will be provided. Contact Alison Anastasio at alison.anastasio@gmail.com for questions and to RSVP.

Rainbow Beach Park runs parallel to South Shore Drive from 75th-79th Streets. By foot, walk east from South Shore Dr. on 77th St. By car, you can only access the park at the southern end.
From the north/west, follow Hwy 41 east as it splits from South Shore Drive at 79th St. Turn left into the park at Farragut.
From the south, follow Hwy 41 north and turn right on Farragut, just before  the intersection of 79th/South Shore.
Once in the park, go past the stop sign and water filtration plant and turn right at the next opportunity. Go to the southeast end of this lot and park. Meet at the entrance to the Nature Area, the which is located at the southern end of the beach (look for the banner!).

 

Scenes from July

15 Oct
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Lobelia spicata

For some folks, summertime means fireworks at the beach. Unfortunately, these can be damaging to plants and animals in the nature area, they leave a mess behind (that volunteers kindly clean up), and of course are illegal in Illinois.

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BBQing is an awesome and fun thing to do in the park as well, but coals should be dumped in the red charcoal trash bins, not on trees or the beach.

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Public service announcements aside, we had a great workday! Everyone felt very accomplished about the significant eradication of the white sweetclover.

September 27: Community Stewardship Workday

25 Sep

Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday to see the gorgeous and vibrant grasses changing color, work more on prickly pear monitoring, and collect seeds from some of our favorite native plants!

Join us this Saturday September 27 from 10am-12pm.

Please remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: there is no shade in the hilly, uneven dunes area so wear sturdy shoes and bring a hat, sunscreen, and water. Tools, training, and snacks will be provided. Contact Alison Anastasio at alison.anastasio@gmail.com for questions and to RSVP.

Rainbow Beach Park runs parallel to South Shore Drive from 75th-79th Streets. By foot, walk east from South Shore Dr. on 77th St. By car, you can only access the park at the southern end.
From the north/west, follow Hwy 41 east as it splits from South Shore Drive at 79th St. Turn left into the park at Farragut.
From the south, follow Hwy 41 north and turn right on Farragut, just before  the intersection of 79th/South Shore.
Once in the park, go past the stop sign and water filtration plant and turn right at the next opportunity. Go to the southeast end of this lot and park. Meet at the entrance to the Nature Area, the which is located at the southern end of the beach (look for the banner!).

*Mark your calendar*
Saturday October 25 – Last workday of the season

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August 23: Community Stewardship Workday

20 Aug

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Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday to kick off a new monitoring project! Everyone loves the native prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa) and we have a very healthy and vigorous population at RBD. By monitoring individuals over time, we’ll have evidence of how the population changes in size and in timing of important life events (making new leaves, flowering, making fruits, etc.). Our goal for this workday will be to mark (with a small flag) each of the individuals in the nature area.

Join us this Saturday August 23 from 10am-12pm.

Please remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: there is no shade in the hilly, uneven dunes area so wear sturdy shoes and bring a hat, sunscreen, and water. Tools, training, and snacks will be provided. Contact Alison Anastasio at alison.anastasio@gmail.com for questions and to RSVP.

Rainbow Beach Park runs parallel to South Shore Drive from 75th-79th Streets. By foot, walk east from South Shore Dr. on 77th St. By car, you can only access the park at the southern end.
From the north/west, follow Hwy 41 east as it splits from South Shore Drive at 79th St. Turn left into the park at Farragut.
From the south, follow Hwy 41 north and turn right on Farragut, just before  the intersection of 79th/South Shore.
Once in the park, go past the stop sign and water filtration plant and turn right at the next opportunity. Go to the southeast end of this lot and park. Meet at the entrance to the Nature Area, the which is located at the southern end of the beach (look for the banner!).

*Mark your calendar*
Saturday September 27 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD
Saturday October 25 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD
Date TBD — Bird walk

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July 26: Community Stewardship Workday

24 Jul

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Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday to see how plants and insects on the beach thrive in summer weather! We’ll ID native wildflowers and grasses, pick up trash, get rid of invasive plants; whatever needs doing.

Join us this Saturday July 26 from 10am-12pm.

Please remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: there is no shade in the hilly, uneven dunes area so wear sturdy shoes and bring a hat, sunscreen, and water. Tools, training, and snacks will be provided. Contact Alison Anastasio at alison.anastasio@gmail.com for questions and to RSVP.

Rainbow Beach Park runs parallel to South Shore Drive from 75th-79th Streets. By foot, walk east from South Shore Dr. on 77th St. By car, you can only access the park at the southern end.
From the north/west, follow Hwy 41 east as it splits from South Shore Drive at 79th St. Turn left into the park at Farragut.
From the south, follow Hwy 41 north and turn right on Farragut, just before  the intersection of 79th/South Shore.
Once in the park, go past the stop sign and water filtration plant and turn right at the next opportunity. Go to the southeast end of this lot and park. Meet at the entrance to the Nature Area, the which is located at the southern end of the beach (look for the banner!).

*Mark your calendar*
Saturday August 23 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD
Saturday September 27 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD
Saturday October 25 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD

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Followup: June 28 workday

5 Jul

 

The flowering plants at the Dunes are exploding this time of year. It’s very orange and yellow now. If you only visit Rainbow Beach Dunes once this year, I’d suggest going in the next couple weeks!

We had a great group at the Dunes last Saturday, on June 28: park neighbors, old friends, master gardeners, Chicago Cares volunteers.

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We took a nature hike, and then went to work pulling weeds (cheatgrass) from between the cactus and little bluestem.

 

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The tree on the edge of the parking lot is gone!

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June 28: Community Stewardship Workday

23 Jun

The showy season has begun! Prickly pear cactus has started its first blooms, along with butterfly weed, and purple prairie clover. We will take a nature walk to see all the action around the site. But the window of opportunity to get rid of more cheatgrass has not closed, so we will also work on weeding.

Join us this Saturday June 28 from 10am-12pm.

Remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: it may be windy and wet, or sunny and dry! Sturdy shoes, long pants and water are recommended. Tools, training, and snacks will be provided. Contact Alison Anastasio at alison.anastasio@gmail.com for questions and to RSVP.

Rainbow Beach Park runs parallel to South Shore Drive from 75th-79th Streets. By foot, walk east from South Shore Dr. on 77th St. By car, you can only access the park at the southern end.
From the north/west, follow Hwy 41 east as it splits from South Shore Drive at 79th St. Turn left into the park at Farragut.
From the south, follow Hwy 41 north and turn right on Farragut, just before  the intersection of 79th/South Shore.
Once in the park, go past the stop sign and water filtration plant and turn right at the next opportunity. Go to the southeast end of this lot and park. Meet at the entrance to the Nature Area, the which is located at the southern end of the beach (look for the banner!).

*Mark your calendar*
Every Sunday this summer from 12-5 in Rainbow Beach Park at 79th/South Shore — come to the South Shore Farmers Market!

Saturday July 26 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD
Saturday August 23 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD
Saturday September 27 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD

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Calumet Quarter students visit Rainbow Beach Dunes

13 Jun

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This spring, I taught a course (Topics in Calumet Ecology) for University of Chicago undergrads in the Calumet Quarter — an experiential place-based program in environmental studies (check out the blog of our awesome students here). One of our field trips was to Rainbow Beach Dunes (on a cold day in May) and you can view photos of the trip here.  One of the students wrote a blog post about the history of Rainbow Beach!

The Story Behind Rainbow Beach

Since I was unable to go on the Rainbow Beach Dunes field trip I did some research on the site and did a write up on some of the interesting history of the area. The most incredible thing that I found was the story of the wade-ins that occurred in the summers of 1960 and 1961. The public spaces of Chicago were technically open to anyone at that time, but Rainbow Beach on Lake Michigan was effectively a white-only beach. On August 28, 1960 Velma Murphy Hill decided to change that. She led a small group of activists to the beach, and attempted to have a relaxing outing. However, it was uncomfortable for all of the brave activists, as many of the typical patrons of the beach stared, made comments or left. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come. When they decided to leave the beach, a huge group of men and women hemmed the activists in and began to shout at them. As the waders continued walking to leave, the mob began to throw stones as well as screaming, and Velma Murphy Hill was hit in the head with one of the larger rocks. She was sent to the hospital and received stitches for the wound, but despite the injury continued to push for the integration of the beach.

As the summer continued, the waders did not give in to the fear or the pressure of the angry masses, heading to the beach every day and enduring the awful treatment at the hands of the other beachgoers. As the movement grew in strength, the NAACP began to provide support, lobbying the City of Chicago to protect the activists, and sending other activists to increase the number of waders. Eventually, the City of Chicago took notice and began to provide the protestors with support as well. The most famous moment of the movement occurred on July 8, 1961. The waders arrived under the protection of 200 police men to keep the mob back as the numbers continued to swell throughout the day. There were 10 arrests made that day alone, and fortunately none of the protestors were injured. The protests continued after that day, but the angry mob began to dwindle. Every day the police and waders arrived at the beach in tandem until the police were no longer necessary.

Throughout this quarter we have been studying how the people in a certain area interact with their environment, but I think that it is also interesting and important to look at how they interact with each other within that environment. Today, Rainbow Beach is a place where Chicagoans of all races can come to relax, and had it not been for the brave efforts of Velma Murphy Hill and her fellow waders, the story may not have been the same.

 

May 17: Community Stewardship Workday

14 May

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It is cheatgrass season! This invasive grass (Bromus tectorum) is typically thought of wreaking havoc on rangelands in the western US, but it is moving across our site as well. This is an easy one for volunteers to pull, so we’ll be focusing on it for the May workday.

Join us this Saturday May 17 from 10am-12pm.

Remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: it may be windy and wet. Sturdy shoes, long pants and water are recommended. Tools, training, and snacks will be provided. Contact Alison Anastasio at alison.anastasio@gmail.com for questions and to RSVP.

Rainbow Beach Park runs parallel to South Shore Drive from 75th-79th Streets. By foot, walk east from South Shore Dr. on 77th St. By car, you can only access the park at the southern end.
From the north/west, follow Hwy 41 east as it splits from South Shore Drive at 79th St. Turn left into the park at Farragut.
From the south, follow Hwy 41 north and turn right on Farragut, just before  the intersection of 79th/South Shore.
Once in the park, go past the stop sign and water filtration plant and turn right at the next opportunity. Go to the southeast end of this lot and park. Meet at the entrance to the Nature Area, the which is located at the southern end of the beach (look for the banner!).

*Mark your calendar*
Saturday May 17 (not 5/24) – Community Stewardship Workday
Saturday June 28 – Community Stewardship Workday
Saturday July 26 – Community Stewardship Workday

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April 19: Community Stewardship Workday

16 Apr

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Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday to clean up trash in the nature area, and start this season’s invasive species hunt. We’ll begin by looking for cheatgrass. We’ll also look for the earliest flowering species at the dunes: arctic bearberry and sand dune rockcress!

Join us this Saturday April 19 from 10am-12pm.

Remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: it may be windy and wet. Sturdy shoes, long pants and water are recommended. Tools, training, and snacks will be provided. Contact Alison Anastasio at alison.anastasio@gmail.com for questions and to RSVP.

Rainbow Beach Park runs parallel to South Shore Drive from 75th-79th Streets. By foot, walk east from South Shore Dr. on 77th St. By car, you can only access the park at the southern end.
From the north/west, follow Hwy 41 east as it splits from South Shore Drive at 79th St. Turn left into the park at Farragut.
From the south, follow Hwy 41 north and turn right on Farragut, just before  the intersection of 79th/South Shore.
Once in the park, go past the stop sign and water filtration plant and turn right at the next opportunity. Go to the southeast end of this lot and park. Meet at the entrance to the Nature Area, the which is located at the southern end of the beach (look for the banner!).

*Mark your calendar*
Saturday May 17 (not 5/24) – Community Stewardship Workday
Saturday June 28 – Community Stewardship Workday
Saturday July 26 – Community Stewardship Workday

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Goodbye 2013; hello 2014

25 Mar

We sent our stewardship activities on winter break after our last workday of 2013, October 26.

Volunteers collected seeds from healthy little bluestem populations in the center of the nature area and dispersed them in the developing area on the east end.

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We started up again just last weekend, with volunteers collecting 4 big bags of trash! We’re ready to start the year with a clean slate.

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