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Saturday 4/28: Chicago City Nature Challenge at RBD

20 Apr

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Join friends, neighbors and other volunteers at Rainbow Beach Dunes on Saturday 4/28, 10am-1pm to participate in the Chicago City Nature Challenge.

It’s a Bioblitz where we will take pictures of ALL the species we find in the nature area (and throughout the whole park) and upload them to iNaturalist! Since there are unique plants and animals in a dune ecosystem, we’ll be able to make a special contribution to the Chicago region; there are several species on this list of Species to Find! that we will easily see at RBD.

No experience in plant/animal ID is necessary. We will use the program iNaturalist, so it will be helpful if you’ve signed up for iNaturalist and downloaded the app to your smart phone. If you can stay for lunch, we encourage you to bring snacks or a dish to share with other hard-working volunteers.

Please RSVP here!

Remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: it could be cool and wet, or sunny and warm! Sturdy shoes, long pants, bug repellent, and water are recommended. Tools, equipment, and snacks will be provided.
 …

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 Hwy 41 at Farragut. 
  • 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 far right corner of the parking lot farthest from the field house at the entrance to the Nature Area. Meet at the banner!
  • Find directions and a map here.

 

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Calumet Quarter at Rainbow Beach Dunes

25 May

CQ students 2016-05-20

Students from University of Chicago’s Calumet Quarter visited Rainbow Beach Dunes to learn about stewardship, urban nature areas, and prickly pear cactus!

Here’s a blog post from student Saul Levin:

The Cacti at Rainbow Beach Dunes

Perhaps unsurprisingly, my strongest impressions and most pressing questions following our visit to Rainbow Beach Dunes are about the “sexiest”[1] part of the dunes: Opuntia humifusa, more commonly known as Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus.[2]

I was interested by the impressive abundance of the cacti at the site we visited, especially when I discovered that its abundance is not consistent across its range. The prickly pear cactus has no unusual legal status at the federal level, but it is listed as rare vulnerable, or endangered in three states.[3]  The cactus owes its abundance in part to its ability to reproduce in three different ways.[4]  O. humifusa can reproduce through pollination and seeding. Detached segments can also travel on passing animals or simply fall off and roll away, taking root nearby. A third option called “layering,” in which still attached segments input new roots into the soil, explains why it is so difficult to distinguish adjacent plants from one another.

Read the rest of Saul’s article here, and view the gallery from their May 20 trip here.

 

July 25: Community Stewardship, Habitat 2030, potluck

20 Jul

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Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday for a fun mid-summer workday with our friends at Habitat 2030! What’s Habitat 2030, you ask?

Habitat 2030 is a group of volunteers who care about the remarkable natural areas of the Chicago region. We host habitat restoration workdays, nature hikes and weekend camping trips, social gatherings, and educational opportunities. At workdays, we remove invasive plants, gather and spread seeds, and learn about nature as we go. We link interested newbies to expert mentors and are building a community where people of all skill levels can discuss local ecology, conservation, and habitat restoration issues. Everyone is welcome!

We’ll share our knowledge of dune ecosystems and native plants and all work together to monitor the flowering and fruiting of the prickly pear cactus. After a fulfilling few hours of monitoring, please stay for a potluck lunch with a great group of volunteers!

Join us this Saturday July 25 from 10am-12pm. Bring something to share and join us for a potluck after the workday.

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 August 22 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD
Saturday September 26 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD
Saturday October 24 – Community Stewardship Workday at RBD

 

Plants of Concern at RBD

14 Jul

Plants of Concern has been supported, hosted, and cared for over many years by Susanne Masi at the Chicago Botanic Garden. She retired last year, and left behind a thriving citizen science program in the hands of Rachel Goad and a team of botanists.

Monitoring the biotic and abiotic conditions of the habitat over time is a critical part of stewardship at RBD. We participate in a number of citizen science monitoring programs, including Plants of Concern, Adopt-a-Beach, and now the Opuntia monitoring program. We hope to add monitoring programs in the future for purple martins and monarch butterflies and their obligate food source, milkweed (Asclepias spp.).

If you or someone you know are committed to taking a leadership role in current monitoring programs at RBD, or new ones like purple martins or monarchs, please come out to a workday and let us know!

On Saturday, we monitored for Plants of Concern species. It was a lovely morning by the lake

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and we saw lots of other native plants in bloom as well.

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How many native plant species can you identify in this photo?!

 

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June 27: Community Stewardship Workday

21 Jun

 

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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

 

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!).

 

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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