Blog Banner

An Illinois River Almanac

Jason Haupt's Energy and Environment Blog
Environmental Stewardship

The Need for Hunting

All creatures modify their habitats to better meet their needs. Some make major modifications, like beavers, and some make minor changes like moles. Humans are no exception to this they fall under the type of creature that makes major changes to their habitats. Humans replace forests and prairies with cities and agriculture fields; displacing different animal species because they pose a threat...

Read More >

 MG 2270

The Mind Mending Power of Nature

I am sure that no one will deny that nature is exceptionally beneficial. Trees and other plants provide oxygen; nature provides recreational opportunities and food for some. Access to water without rivers, streams, and lakes would be much more difficult. However, there are some much less tangible benefits to nature as well. Nature provides mental renewal, reduces healing time for patients in ho...

Read More >

 MG 3755
click image to view 6 more

Bird Bees and Wild Things: Float Like a Butterfly

If you read the first part of Birds Bees and Wild Things, you will remember that to attract birds to your yard; insects are an essential element of a bird's diet for part of the year. Attracting wildlife to your yard is an interconnected effort, and to attract all types of wildlife, you need to look at your yard as a habitat you have food, water, shelter, and space. When you are looking...

Read More >

 MG 4028
click image to view 4 more

Birds Bees and Wild Things: Feathered Friends

Attracting wildlife to your yard is something in which everyone seems to be interested. But knowing how to do this is what many people lack.  As you think about attracting wildlife to your yard, the first step is to start looking at your yard as a habitat. All habitats have four elements: water, shelter, food, and space. To attract and keep wildlife coming back all four elements must be readily...

Read More >

Trench Composting

Trench, Keyhole and Mound Gardening reuses plant materials. By Kelly Allsup

Guest author Kelly Allsup   Start your gardening endeavors this fall by using plant materials (organic matter) that you would normally put on the curb for pick-up. Whether you use the trench, keyhole, mound (also known as Hugelkultur) gardening methods, you will be creating a growing environment that requires no fertilizer, little irrigation and ideal for root growth. Fr...

Read More >

20150921 135533

Happy Halloween

Historically nature was a dangerous place. The wild areas were where "evil" lived. Just take a look at the many fairy tales. The witch lived in the deep woods, the wolf was the bad guy and the vampire turns into a bat. So often the unknown turns into the aspects that need to be feared. But as I have written before, much of the "scary" parts of nature are also some of the most interesting....

Read More >

Perilous Pears

In recent years, one of the most popular trees planted in yards and by cities has been Callery Pear. These trees are cultivars of the Bradford Pear ( Pyrus calleryana) . They cannot self-pollinate, so it was thought this would be a good thing, preventing the rapid spread of these trees. This was meant to prevent them from becoming a problem like some of the other trees and shrubs that ha...

Read More >

Bush Honeysuckle Bark
click image to view 3 more

Controlling the Uncontrolled- Bush Honeysuckle

If you have read some of my previous article or blogs, you will know that invasive species pose a problem in Illinois, particularly in restoration projects. I have given a lot of information about different species in the past, but have given very little information on some of the control methods for some of the most pervasive species that are found in Illinois. Today, I am going to focus on Bu...

Read More >

 MG 2228

Beautiful Bats

One of the most misunderstood animals found in Illinois is the bat. There are many persistent, false rumors and legends that have given bats a bad name. Many of these stories have been created out of a lack of understanding and outright fear. But bats are far from being something to be feared. They are highly beneficial. If you are sitting out on your porch, patio, or deck at dusk, you might ju...

Read More >

Getting to the root of “it”

Plants are amazing organisms. They can turn sunlight into food; they have developed some amazing defenses against their predators; and many of them are simply beautiful. But one of the most amazing things about plants is the parts that you never see. The roots are just as amazing as the flowers, leaves, and stems. On the surface you cannot see the roots, and they may seem a little boring and in...

Read More >

IMG 0483

Digging In: Secret Soil Stuff

There is a whole world under our feet. It is more than just "dirt" that you are standing on. In fact, it is not even dirt, it is soil. The soil beneath your feet is teeming with life. It is a world that is alien to us, but is just as amazing as the world that is around us. Soil has so much life in it, ranging from the earthworms that you see to things that are not visible unless you look at it...

Read More >

Natures Nightly Number

If you are like me, you enjoy sitting in your back yard on nice spring and summer evenings. But even in the small town that I live in it is far from quiet. Sitting on my porch or patio, I can hear a number of noises and most of them are not man made. In the spring and early summer, there are lots of noises to listen to, and it is pleasant to sit on a cool night and just listen to the mu...

Read More >

Mosquitos

There are lots of reasons to hate mosquitoes. For most people it is the itching that accompanies the bite, but there are health reasons to hate them too. In February of this year the news began to talk about the Zika virus and its dangers. Although Zika is in the news, mosquitoes carry a number of other diseases that should be considered. Illinois has had very few cases of Zika and none of them...

Read More >

Animal of the Week: Rat Snake

If you have read some of my other blogs or articles, you are well aware of my stance on snakes. I believe that the only good snake is a hungry snake. Snakes have many benefits in the ecosystems where they are found. One of the most common snakes in Illinois is the Rat Snake and it is a beautiful example of the snakes found in Illinois. There are two Rat Snakes found in Illinois - the Gr...

Read More >

Saving the Rain for Later

The past few weeks have been very wet. We seem to have a lot more rain in the spring, and this year is no exception to that rule. We have had an average of approximately four inches of rain over the last 30 days. This is a lot of water that could be used during the summer months when there is less rain. Rain barrels are an excellent way to save that rain for a not-so-rainy day. There ar...

Read More >

Jumping Worm Map
click image to view 3 more

Jumping Worm

Every year there seems to be a new invasive species that we need to take into consideration, and this year will not be a disappointment. The Jumping Worm is a new invasive species that you need to keep an eye out for this year. It is new to Illinois though not to the US. Although it has only been identified in three counties (Cook, DuPage, and McHenry), it poses a threat to the entire state if...

Read More >

Animal of the Week: White-breasted Nuthatch

A small bird that is found in parks, yards, and seen at bird feeders throughout the year is this week's animal of the week. The White-breasted Nuthatch is a small agile bird that is often seen going down a tree head first. The White-breasted Nuthatch is the largest of the nuthatch family. Though it is the biggest in its family, the nuthatches are small birds. They have a large head, sho...

Read More >

 MG 3913
click image to view 4 more

Animal of the Week: River Otter

Everyone loves a comeback story, and going from nearly extirpated in Illinois and on the state endangered species list to being delisted in 2004 is the ultimate comeback story. Fun-loving, playful, and cute are just a few of the descriptions that are used to describe the River Otter. The River Otter is among the most recognizable mammal in Illinois because of its apparent playfulness, and its l...

Read More >

 MG 2609

Getting Ready for Your Friends

The weather is getting nicer; the rain is falling, even if it is not April yet; and the birds are singing in the morning. This means that it is time to start thinking about attracting some of the more colorful friends to your yard. Hummingbirds are fun and exciting to watch. Seeing a bird come to a complete stop in mid-air is so much fun. The Ruby-throated hummingbird has begun its migration an...

Read More >

 MG 2591
click image to view 4 more

Animal of the Week: Ruby-throated Hummingbird

As the weather is changing we are hearing more birds in the morning and we are beginning to see more birds. One bird that is always fun and exciting to see each year is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. The Ruby-throated Humming is found throughout Eastern North America. It is only found in Eastern North America and its habitat does not overlap with any other species of hummingbird except the Blac...

Read More >

Coyote1

Animal of the Week: Coyote

This week we are going to look at the largest member of the dog family found in Illinois. The Coyote has a poor reputation particularly among farmers. But is this reputation truly deserved? Coyotes are relatively easy to recognize. They are about the size of a small German Shepherd, much larger than most people think, and come in a wide variety of colors and markings. They have a long b...

Read More >

Animal of the Week: Red-tailed Hawk

One of the most prolific birds of prey seen in Illinois is the Red -tailed Hawk. They are frequently seen along roadsides perched in trees, on light poles, and fence poles. When you see a hawk, you are most likely seeing a Red -tailed Hawk. Red-tailed Hawks are large hawks with rounded wings and short tails. There are several "morphs" of the Red-tailed Hawk, but they are most commonly b...

Read More >

 MG 2235
click image to view 2 more

Animal of the Week: Bobcat

Quiet and mysterious, the Bobcat is an animal found in Illinois. Most people either do not know it is found in Illinois or will go their entire life never seeing one. It is the only native wild cat still found in Illinois. The Bobcat is this week's animal of the week. Though most people have never seen one in the wild, they could probably identify a Bobcat if they ever saw one. The Bobc...

Read More >

WLPP WFBW

Growing Clean Water

Water is important to us all, plays a major role in all of our lives, and is a fundamental human need. Access to clean water is one of the top priorities to many people. A lack of clean water restricts recreation, as well as having an economic impact on the communities. One threat to clean water is excess nutrients in the waterways. There are three major nutrients that are of concern - Total Ni...

Read More >

IMG 0903

Animal of the Week: Striped Skunk

There are few animals in the woods that have as bad a reputation as this week's "animal of the week." The striped skunk, which is found in Illinois and much of the United States, has a terrible reputation; and if you corner a skunk, that reputation is well earned. But there is much more to skunks than their stink. The striped skunk is one of the most easily identifiable animals that you...

Read More >