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

Photograph taken by Patrick Coin

Meet Your Water Snake Neighbors

By Slithering Jack MacRae Queen snakes are gentle but squirmy water snakes with unique colors. They are not female king snakes, but belong to an entirely different taxonomic genus and family. Their very cool name in Latin “Regina septemvitatta” means Queen Seven Stripe. Queen snakes are about 2 feet long (big ones might reach 3) … Read more


Plastics are Breaking the Laws

By Gary Swick, President At our Yorkville river cleanup, I realized that my very full bag of trash was exceptionally light. It lacked the usual heavy glass bottles and pieces of metal. The contents were primarily cigarette butts, plastic bottles, food wrappers, and miscellaneous other plastic products like polystyrene (Styrofoam). These items end up as … Read more

snapping turtle

Meet Your Neighbors: Turtle Power!

By Jack MacRae The eggs have all been laid.   Many thousands of the white spheres are now buried in our parks and gardens.  They look like ping pong balls.  The eggs were deposited in subterranean nests by our largest local reptile, the common snapping turtle. Common snapping turtles are truly common.  They live in all permanent bodies of water … Read more

fireworks and flag

Dam Removal as an Act of Patriotism

By Gary Swick, President July is a time for celebration because July 4th is Independence Day for the United States of America. This holiday is not religion-oriented, nor a family-centered time for gathering. It doesn’t involve greeting cards or dressing up. But it does involve decorations with flags and some extravagant performances in the form … Read more

Elgin Love Our River Day volunteers

It Takes A Community

By Gary Swick, President Remember Hilary Clinton’s 1996 book, “It Takes a Village,” and her 2016 Democratic National Convention speech reminding us that alone we can neither rear a healthy family, build a business, heal a community, or lift a country by ourselves? Collaboratively, we do better when we pool our skills, talents, perspectives, and … Read more

Long Lake

Saving Long Lake – Part Two

By Gary Mechanic, Executive Director Late last year one of the final pages of a decades long battle to save Long Lake (in Lake County Illinois) came to a close when Illinois’ Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced a settlement with Baxter Healthcare that will end that company’s decades-long pollution of Long Lake. Behind the Attorney … Read more

northern flicker

My Friend Flicker

By Jack MacRae Flicker meat tastes like ants.  I doubt I will get the opportunity to verify this (I would do it in a heartbeat) but times, tastes, and sensibilities have changed. The topic of tasting flicker meat was first raised by universally famous naturalist and artist John James Audubon, who would routinely taste his subjects, … Read more

Tyler Creek Wing Park Pool


By Gary Swick, President Lying in a hammock feels like harmony to me. It’s the cradled feeling of being safely supported while swinging in suspension. It’s peaceful and joyous. May brings about an incredible demonstration of nature’s harmony, with many factors playing into a unified production. Can you imagine trying to orchestrate spring: arranging the … Read more