On Thursday, July 21 and Saturday July 23, we will be having an exciting two day event. At 7:00 PM on the evening of Thursday, July 21, we will meet at Hawthorne Hill Nature Center (28 Brookside Drive, Elgin) to hear the presentation: FROM BEACH TO BEECH: the sand dunes of Lake Michigan by Naturalist Jack Shouba.
The sand dunes of Lake Michigan are among the great natural wonders of the world and are an important recreational, scenic, and scientific resource. It was here that North American ecology got its start, and it is here that an incredible variety of plants and animals make their homes. While most visitors go to the dunes to swim, sun themselves, or play on the beach, they are missing much of what the dunes have to offer. This program demonstrates the beauty and variety found in the dunes, as we look at the process of succession and visit a number of sites around Lake Michigan. This program will be good background information for our field trip to Illinois Beach State Park on July 23.
On July 23, we will meet at 7:30 AM at Christ the Lord Church (12N462 Tina Trail, Elgin) to arrange carpooling and travel to Illinois Beach State Park. (If you drive yourself, use the Wadsworth Road entrance and meet in the parking lot south of the Resort and Conference Center (near the Visitor Center) at approximately 9:15). Bring your own water bottles/drinks and a sack lunch or something to share with others for a picnic lunch.
Naturalist Jack Shouba will lead this trip to Illinois Beach State Park Nature Preserve, the first Illinois Nature Preserve, the first formally dedicated Nature Preserve in the world, and a part of the recently declared RAMSAR (that’s an international treaty) Wetland of International Importance. We will explore the beach, low sand dunes, oak savanna, wet and dry prairies, wetlands, and the Dead River. We will see many wildflowers (including cactus), shrubs, black oak trees, prairie and dune grasses, sedges, insects, and birds. Bring your binoculars, camera, comfortable hiking socks and shoes and long pants (there is poison ivy!), insect repellent, a hat and sunscreen. Hiking will be leisurely, mostly on sand and gravel trails covering about two miles, though you can choose to do only part of the longest trail. We will explore the area with Jack before and after lunch, leaving the area at 2:30, to arrive back to Elgin about 4:00.