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May 27: Tis the season for cheatgrass

14 May

CC_Bromus_tectorum

Join fellow volunteers at the next Rainbow Beach Dunes stewardship workday on Saturday, May 27, from 10am-12pm.  We will focus on managing the cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) population at RBD, an invasive plant that loves to grow in open patches between native grasses. Our efforts mean that native plants have room to grow and will be able to persist in higher density, creating healthy homes for a diverse set of plants and animals. 

RSVP here!

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 stewards Alison Anastasio (alison.anastasio@gmail.com) or Jen Raber (jennifer.raber@gmail.com) with questions.
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 Fieldhouse.
  • Go to the end of the parking lot closest to the Nature Area. Meet at the banner!

Find directions and a map here.

*Mark your calendar*
  • June 24 2017
  • July 22 2017
  • August 26 2017
  • September 23 2017
  • October 28 2017

June 25: Community Stewardship Workday

20 Jun

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Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday June 25 for invasive species management and to see the dunes in bloom!

More beautiful native plants are blooming! and they will keep coming over the next few months. Native prickly pear flowers [Opuntia humifusa], New Jersey tea [Ceanothus americanus], milkweed [Asclepias spp.], and rare Pitcher’s thistle [Cirsium pitcherii] are just opening up; pale beardstongue [Penstemon pallidus], beach pea [Lathyrus japonicus], and sand coreopsis [Coreopsis lanceolata] are in full bloom! (Find out about all these species and more at Illinois wildflowers.)

But the invasive Bromus tectorum [cheatgrass or downy brome] and Melilotus officianalis [sweet clover] are also making themselves known across the site and we need volunteers to help remove it.

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

Remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: it could be cool and wet, or sunny and warm! Sturdy shoes, long pants, bug repellant, and water are recommended. Tools, equipment, and snacks will be provided. Please RSVP here, and contact co-stewards Alison Anastasio (alison.anastasio@gmail.com) or Jen Raber (jennifer.raber@gmail.com) with questions.

**Mark your calendars!**
Upcoming community stewardship workdays at RBD:
Saturday July 23, 10am-12pm
Saturday August 27, 10am-12pm
Saturday September 24, 10am-12pm
Saturday October 22, 10am-12pm

….

Rainbow Beach Park runs parallel to South Shore Drive from 75th-79th Streets. Find directions and a map here.
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!).

Follow up: May 28 workday

2 Jun

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Our May workday was a great one, including students from Gary Comer College Prep, members of the Rainbow Beach Park Advisory Council, and other volunteers. We got a lot of work done, pulling by hand the invasive cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) from throughout the site.

May 28: Community Stewardship Workday

23 May

rainbow wood betony

 

Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday May 28 for invasive species management!

More beautiful native plants are blooming, like Triglochin maritima [seaside arrow grass], Pedicularis canadensis [wood betony or lousewort; pictured above], Sisyrinchium angustifolium [blue eyed grass, in the iris family], and Lithospermum canescens [hoary pucoon]. (Find out about all these species and more at Illinois wildflowers.)

But the invasive Bromus tectorum [cheatgrass or downy brome] is also making itself known across the site and we need volunteers to help remove it! Join us this Saturday May 28 from10am-12pm.

Remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: it could be cool and wet, or sunny and warm! Sturdy shoes, long pants and water are recommended. Tools, equipment, and snacks will be provided. Please RSVP here, and contact co-stewards Alison Anastasio (alison.anastasio@gmail.com) or Jen Raber (jennifer.raber@gmail.com) with questions.

….

Directions and a map can be found here.

Rainbow Beach Park runs parallel to South Shore Drive from 75th-79th Streets. Find directions and a map here.
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!).

 

June 27: Community Stewardship Workday

21 Jun

 

RB_Flyer15-0627

Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday to make a dent in the populations of some pernicious invasive plant species: sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis) and cheat grass (Bromus tectorum). Regular volunteers will confirm that these are very fulfilling workdays – it sure feels great to pull big weeds out of the sandy dune soil.

Join us this Saturday June 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.

Find directions and a map here.

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!).

*Mark your calendar*
Saturday July 25 – Community Stewardship and Habitat 2030 workday at RBD
Saturday August 22 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD

 

May 23: Community Stewardship Workday

19 May

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Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday to continue to our Opuntia 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 continue to mark and tag individuals in the nature area.

We’ll also clean up trash and look for invasive plants (probably cheat grass, Bromus tectorum) to remove.

Join us this Saturday May 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, 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!).

*Mark your calendar*
Saturday June 27 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD
Saturday July 25 – Community Stewardship and Habitat 2030 workday at RBD
Saturday August 22 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD

 

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.

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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Followup: June 22 workday

30 Jun

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We had a small but mighty group attacking the leading edge of the cheatgrass! Thanks to volunteers from Chicago Cares and CPD for their hard work.

Followup: Invasive species management

17 Jun

We really attacked the cheatgrass, but the truth is we barely made a dent.

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Nevertheless, our volunteers from Gary Comer and Chicago Cares had a blast!

May 25: Invasive species management

21 May

Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes on Saturday to continue this season’s invasive species hunt. We’ll be sure to make a dent in the invasive sweetclover and cheatgrass populations. Join us this Saturday May 25 from 10am-12pm.

**Please note: re-routing of Hwy 41 means there is some confusion about how to enter the park. Enter at the intersection of South Shore/79th. Follow the new construction of Hwy 41 slightly south (go through the ‘road closed’ barricade!) follow to the T-intersection, turn left and go back north directly into the park.

Rainbow Beach is located at 3111 E. 77th St. By foot, walk east from South Shore Dr. on 77th St. By car, enter from 79th St., go past the water filtration plant, and park in the first parking lot. Please meet at the entrance to the nature area, which is located at the southern end of the beach. Tools and equipment will be provided, but please bring water and dress appropriately for the weather. Contact Alison Anastasio at alison.anastasio@gmail.com for questions and to RSVP.

*Mark your calendar*
Saturday, June 22- community stewardship workday
Sunday, June 23- First South Shore Farmers Market of 2013!
Saturday July 27- community stewardship workday

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Cheatgrass as fodder for beer brewing

5 Oct

We should have been saving all our harvested cheatgrass! See the article below and listen to an interview with Idaho home brewer Tye Morgan on NPR’s Science Friday.

How Cheatgrass Could Soon Be In Your Pint Glass

Much of the acreage lost to wildfires in Idaho and the West this year means miles and miles of land opened up to cheatgrass.

For ranchers, this invasive species spreads quickly and requires time and resources to remove.

So what can ranchers do? How about making beer?  Home brewer Tye Morgan explains why cheatgrass is the perfect ingredient for beer.

“People used to gather local flora to ferment out their water so their water could be drinkable,” says Morgan. “And it would be a very low alcohol but it would make it so that it would kill off all the bacteria. And then all of a sudden I was like, ‘Cheatgrass is a grass.’ So I ran a quick nutritional value and found out that the carbohydrate to protein ratio is very similar to barley.”

Reno, Nev. couple Tye and Joe Morgan have been experimenting with making small batches of cheatgrass beer for three years. They formed a company and hope to start producing on a commercial scale soon. They shared their most recent batch with a group this summer, and it was a big hit.

“As a home brewer you know that one beer style is never going to please everybody,” Morgan says. “And so I had also brought some light American lagers because that’s the majority of what people drink. I had the people that liked the light American lager drinking the cheatgrass beer. And they were like, ‘No, this is great, I’m actually preferring this now.’ “

Morgan says she hopes that harvesting cheatgrass could be a profitable management tool for ranchers. Her company, Bromus Tech, would like to partner with breweries around the West to produce the beer.

Tye Morgan is going to be featured on Science Friday this afternoon, broadcasting live from Boise State University at noon.

Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio

Saturday July 28: Sweet clover hunt

24 Jul

On our recent walk, we noticed lots of invasive sweet clover in the Dunes area. I am glad to report that the population in the prairie area is greatly diminished thanks to our diligent efforts at weeding last summer. With some extra attention this weekend, in just a few years I bet sweet clover at this site will be a distant memory! Join us this Saturday from 10am-noon. Be prepared for hot weather with sun protection and plenty of water.

Rainbow Beach is located at 3111 E. 77th St. By foot, walk east from South Shore Dr. on 77th St. By car, enter from 79th St., go past the water filtration plant, and park in the first parking lot. Please meet at the entrance to the nature area, which is located at the southern end of the beach. Tools and equipment will be provided, but please bring water and dress appropriately for the weather. Contact Alison Anastasio at alison.anastasio@gmail.com for questions and to RSVP.

*Mark your calendar*
Saturday August 25 – Stewardship workday
Saturday September 22 – Stewardship workday
Saturday October 27 – Stewardship workday

Saturday May 26: Invasive species management

22 May

This month we will focus on decreasing the size of the cheatgrass and sweetclover populations on the dunes. They are pernicious, but with the help of volunteers, these species can pulled by hand, avoiding the need for herbicides. Join us this Saturday from 10am-noon. Also, be sure to check out the website to see photos from recent workdays and events at the nature area!

Rainbow Beach is located at 3111 E. 77th St. By foot, walk east from South Shore Dr. on 77th St. By car, enter from 79th St., go past the water filtration plant, and park in the first parking lot. Please meet at the entrance to the nature area, which is located at the southern end of the beach. Tools and equipment will be provided, but please bring water and dress appropriately for the weather. Contact Alison Anastasio at alison.anastasio@gmail.com for questions and to RSVP.

*Mark your calendar*
Saturday June 23 – Stewardship workday
Saturday July 14 – Calumet Outdoor Series
Saturday July 28 – Stewardship workday

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