Environment

Fox-River-duckweed-and-algae

State of the Fox River 2020

Fifty Years of Environmental Protection In this year’s live presentation of the State of the Fox River, I shared my challenge in answering the complex question that I often receive: “How is the Fox River doing?” Since the enactment of the Clean Water Act in 1970 things have been improving. That legislation was a federally … Read more

making rain

Second Saturday Kickoff a Great Success!

By Brandon Combs and Jenni Schiavone Friends of the Fox River Second Saturday Outdoor Adventures is a new program initiative we’re starting this year. We hope this monthly program will engage young community members and their families in regular outdoor educational activities as we explore the Fox River’s watershed. We are proud to report that … Read more

How Are We Protecting the Fox River?

By Gary Swick, President “How is the river doing?” and “What’s new with Friends of the Fox River (FOFR)?” are the two most common questions that I hear related to the Fox River. In January, I will answer the first question during my State of the Fox River 2020 report at Schweitzer Environmental Center (SEC) … Read more

Black-capped Chickadee

Meet Your Neighbors: Meet Your Chickadee Neighbor’s Brain!

By Jack MacRae Our wildlife neighbors adjust to the approach of winter in various ways.  Some creatures migrate (red bats), some hibernate (fox snakes), and some grow a layer of insulating fat (raccoons and many humans).  And some birds grow big brains. Seriously.  Long ago, scientists learned that black capped chickadees’ brains expand during autumn when the birds … Read more

sumac thicket

Meet Your Neighbors: Meet the Sumacs

By Jack MacRae The burgundy leaves of sumac fill the Fox Valley’s fall woods.  The hue comes from the pigment anthocyanin and is greatly influenced by the weather.  Here is how: Cool nights (below 45f) inhibit the tree’s chlorophyll production.  Without chlorophyll, sugars accumulate in the leaves.  Increased sugar leads to a rise in anthocyanin in the leaf.  The more … Read more

burning river

It’s Your River – Vote to Protect It!

By Gary Swick, President While in Waubonsee Creek in Oswego, with 7th graders from the Aurora University STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) school, I got a surprise. We were doing a physical-feature analysis to make a map of the creek segment that we were monitoring. Students focused upon two concrete pipes which were discharging a … Read more

Ruby throated hummingbird

Meet Your Neighbors: Ruby Throats and Their Poo

By Jack MacRae I think my hummingbirds have left for the year. I hope they made themselves comfortable before they left. Hummingbirds probably rate high on any animal likeability index. People always enjoy tiny, cute animals with remarkable behavior. And their feces can teach us much about their lives. Avian Excrement Is always an interesting … Read more

web and earth

Nature’s Gifts

By Gary Swick, FOFR President Nature offers us much that we take for granted. Our need for drinkable water, clean air, and bounty of food choices are often underappreciated because they are so readily available. In addition, nature provides many beautiful gifts of art for our appreciation. Many of us are anticipating with excitement the … Read more

unity

One for All and All for One

By Gary Swick, FOFR President I know something about each and every reader. You once lived in your mother’s womb. You relied on her for your respiration, nutrition, and waste management. The physical reliance ends with the snip of the umbilical cord. But you still have a bond; you were unified. We all are in … Read more

Big Smallmouth Bass

Meet Your Neighbors: A Year in the Life of a Smallmouth Bass

By Pat Kirmse Spring A warm March rain raised the temperature of the Fox River to 47 degrees and a 15″ smallmouth bass starts to stir. She is five years old and has survived another Illinois winter, the coldest and snowiest in her life. Fortunately there were no heavy midwinter rains that would have blown … Read more