Tag Archives: stewardship

RBD featured in South Side Weekly

4 Jun

Check out the recent article in South Side Weekly featuring RBD co-stewards Alison and Jen!

 

The Eyes, Ears, and Voices of the Parks

All public parks in Chicago can have stewards, volunteers who takes care of the wildlife and perform public outreach. The Weekly spoke to five of them.

L-R: Heather Breems, Jennifer Raber, Katie Flores, Jerry Levy, Alison Anastasio (Rohan Patrick McDonald)

Alison Anastasio and Jennifer Raber, Rainbow Beach Dunes Stewards

It’s all landfill underneath here.” Alison Anastasio gestured to the thriving grasses around her. Orange flowers dotted the field, while waves rolled onto the beach a few feet away. “I think that that is really incredible,” she added. “Here’s a little strip of land in between a parking lot just up the street from an old steel mill, on top of slag, and it’s doing a lot of things that the ecosystems in the Indiana Dunes do.”

Anastasio is one of the stewards for Rainbow Beach Dunes (RBD), located in Rainbow Beach Park on 77th Street and South Shore Drive. As stewards of RBD, Anastasio and Jen Raber organize monthly workdays, where they lead groups of volunteers in maintaining the park by picking up litter, pulling up invasive plants, and planting seeds of native plants.

Anastasio began stewarding in 2009, as she was finishing her PhD degree in ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago. Once she had the time to explore the nature around the city, Anastasio fell in love with the dunes that characterize the Calumet region. After learning about the stewardship program from a friend, Anastasio reached out to the Chicago Park District. “I didn’t know there was such a good-looking dune habitat [here],” she said, as she first learned about RBD when the Parks District gave her a list of sites that needed stewards. Anastasio revitalized the stewardship program at RBD by reaching out to both the local community and Chicago’s wider network of nature organizations, building up a core group of volunteers.

Two years ago, Anastasio emailed the RBD mailing list for help with stewardship responsibilities. Between working full-time as a dean for the UofC’s MD-PhD program and organizing workdays by herself, she needed support. Raber, who had previously volunteered at RBD a few times, responded. After volunteering at parks across Chicago, Raber wanted to be more deeply involved with Chicago’s nature sites. “Showing up as a volunteer is fun and everything, but it’s more of an enriching, deeper experience when you’re responsible for the site,” she said.

RBD is a relatively new nature area, as the entire lakeside area used to be a manicured beach. In 2004, the Park District found that marram grass, one of the few plants that can grow on open sand, was growing on the beach. As marram grass is important in allowing for developing and stabilizing dune ecosystems, the Park District designated part of the beach as a natural area to support the growth of diverse plant species.

For Anastasio, who lives on the Far South Side, the most rewarding part of stewardship is “interacting with people who didn’t know that this was here, especially people that live in the neighborhood.” Local engagement has increased since 2009, thanks in part to Anastasio’s early efforts in community outreach. RBD now has partnerships with local high schools and receives about one hundred volunteers each year. RBD has also expanded its programming beyond workdays, partnering with the Bird Conservation Network to host bird-watching walks.

Raber lives near Montrose Beach and values how stewarding allows her to build a strong relationship with a nature site. “If I weren’t a steward, if I were just being a normal volunteer, even if it was Montrose or someplace near my house, I just feel like I wouldn’t have that deeper connection.” Raber and Anastasio want to share RBD with even more people in the future. “I feel like it still slides under the radar a little bit,” Raber says.  “I just want to expose people [to RBD] and have them have a good experience,” Anastasio said, “and if we can get some weeds pulled, that’s great.” (Maggy Liu)

[CONTINUE READING HERE]

Scheduled Community Stewardship Workdays for 2017

9 Feb

P1020081

Happy new year! Our first community stewardship workday of 2017 will be on Saturday March 25, 10am-12pm.

Additional dates for 2017 are as follows (10am-12pm on the 4th Saturday of the month) so mark your calendar! We encourage you to use the new RSVP form here.

  • March 25 2017
  • April 22 2017 (Earth Day!)
  • May 27 2017
  • June 24 2017
  • July 22 2017
  • August 26 2017
  • September 23 2017
  • October 28 2017

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!).

 

RBD featured on The Nature Conservancy’s blog!

20 Apr

https://i2.wp.com/19mvmv3yn2qc2bdb912o1t2n.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/conservancy/files/2016/04/RBD-city-view.jpg

Rainbow Beach Dunes skyline. Photo © Jason Steger

Connect With Nature: Seeing Another Side of Stewardship

Each year, during Earth Month, hundreds of Conservancy volunteers lend their hand at Connect With Nature events across the country – each with their own unique projects.

This year, Connect With Nature events at Chicago’s Rainbow Beach have a brand new feel. That’s because successful efforts to restore this vital natural area now require a different set of skills and efforts.

“Rainbow Beach is a small site, but it’s very high quality because of the careful stewardship that’s been going on there for years,” explained Forrest Cortes, community stewardship program manager.

“As a result, a lot of the activities this season are focused on monitoring and assessing the results of stewardship work.”

– See more at TNC blog including quotes from RBD stewards!

April 23: Community Stewardship Workday for Earth Day!

19 Apr

Alyrata2

Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday April 23 for Earth Day workday 2016!

Our earliest flowers (Arabidopsis lyrata [sand cress] and Arctostaphylos uva-ursi [arctic bearberry]) are in full bloom out on the dunes. You might also see some mallards, mergansers, or great blue herons, all sighted from the dunes earlier this month!  At the workday, we’ll look for other early blooms and do more cleanup throughout the nature area.  Join us Saturday April 23 from 10am-12pm.

Remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: it could be cold, wet, or windy! 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.

….

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!).

March 26: Community Stewardship Workday

6 Mar

 

Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes on Saturday March 26 for the first workday of 2016!

Winter on the dunes was a mild one: warm temperatures and not many big storms. As a result, the foredune didn’t grow much this year; we’re likely to see lots of insects (they didn’t die off in a deep freeze); and the early spring will bring native blooms in just a few more weeks. You’ll also want to see the aftermath of a controlled burn in the autumn of the upper savanna: native species will soon overtake the invasive ones after the burn.

At the workday, we’ll survey the effects of winter together and pick up trash that has been tossed on shore and blown into the nature area.   Join us Saturday March 26 from 10am-12pm. 

Remember to prepare for the weather and terrain: it could be cold and windy! 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.

….

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!).

Scheduled Community Stewardship Workdays for 2016

19 Jan

 

P1010422

Happy new year! Our first community stewardship workday of 2016 will be on Saturday March 26, 10am-12pm.

Additional dates for 2016 are as follows (10am-12pm on the 4th Saturday of the month) so mark your calendar! We encourage you to use the new RSVP form here.

  • March 26
  • April 23
  • May 28
  • June 25
  • July 23
  • August 27
  • September 24
  • October 29

 

Scheduled Community Stewardship Workdays for 2015

12 Mar

P1010417

Happy spring! Our first community stewardship workday of 2015 will be on Saturday March 28, 10am-12pm.

Additional dates for 2015 are as follows (10am-12pm on the 4th Saturday of the month) so mark your calendar!

April 25
May 23
June 27
July 25
Aug 22
Sept 26
Oct 24

Stay tuned for information about special events and projects, like Earth Day, marram grass planting, Habitat 2030 and more.

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

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.

P1020078 P1020077

 

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.

P1020274 P1020281 P1020282 P1020286

 

 

July 27: Community Stewardship Workday

24 Jul

Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday to see how plants and insects on the beach thrive in hot weather! We’ll ID plants, pick up trash, get rid of invasive plants; whatever needs doing. Join us this Saturday July 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.
Also be sure to come back on Sunday afternoon for the South Shore Farmers Market! Visit SSFM on Facebook.

**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 (look for the banners!). 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 24- community stewardship workday
Saturday, September 28- community stewardship workday

RB_Flyer072713

 

 

June 22: Community Stewardship Workday

18 Jun

Come out to Rainbow Beach Dunes this Saturday to see the beginning of the showy season! Beautiful blooms of all types are just around the corner. We’ll ID plants, pick up trash, get rid of invasive plants; whatever needs doing. Join us this Saturday June 22 from 10am-12pm.

Also be sure to come back on Sunday afternoon for the opening day of the South Shore Farmers Market! Visit SSFM on Facebook.

**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*
Sunday June 23, South Shore Farmers Market OPENING DAY!
Saturday, July 27 – community stewardship workday
Saturday, August 24- community stewardship workday

 

photo 1 photo 3 photo 2

 

March 23: Winter cleanup

21 Mar

Welcome to the first stewardship workday of the season! We will take a nature walk to see how winter weather has changed the topography of the nature area, especially the foredune. We’ll also pick up trash that has been tossed on the beach over the last few months. Join us this Saturday March 23 from 10am-12pm.

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, April 27 – community stewardship workday
Saturday, May 25 – community stewardship workday
Saturday, June 22- community stewardship workday

RB_Flyer_2013-0323

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

June 23: Summer blooms and invasive species

21 Jun

Summer is in full swing and our favorite showy plants are blooming! Weeds are ever-present though, so we will focus again on decreasing the size of the cheatgrass population. 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 July 14 – Calumet Outdoor Series – Introduction to Rainbow Beach Dunes
Saturday July 28 – Stewardship workday
Saturday August 25 – Stewardship workday

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