The first TLC easement was accepted in 1991 from Leta & Alice Clark at the corner of Thompson Road & Route 120. The sisters wanted to be sure that their "Wildflower Preserve" was never developed, despite a friend's comment that the corner "would make a perfect spot for a gas station" one day! Actually, legend tells me that the friend's comment is what led the sisters to seek out someone to help them make sure that fate would never befall their lovely corner.
The photo was taken in April 2010 while driving past on Route 120, heading from McHenry to Woodstock. About 10 years ago, IDOT redid the intersection and took some land along Thomspon and 120, which I believe led to the eventual die-off of several oaks that were very near to the roads.
There was an enormous bur oak right at the corner that died in 2009. Some say "fungus" was the cause, but I feel in my heart that the bur oak's fate was sealed as soon as its roots were cut and crushed during the road work a decade ago.
Did you hear the sound of a thumb raking over the teeth of a comb while on a recent hike? That's the Western Chorus Frog. The first frog to emerge when the ground thaws.
They are very loud near some wetlands in our area, particularly in the Alden region where small, fishless ponds (vernal pools) abound this time of the year. A diversity of tiny creatures, such as the fairy shrimp (photo to the right), are found in abundance, providing a valuable food source for the recently emerged amphibians, as well as the hatchling salamanders, frogs, toads and turtles.
In larger ponds - those with fish - these small creatures do not survive, as they become food for the fish. But, in the small temporary pools of spring, the young amphibians are able to mature, feed on mosquito larvae, and breed so there will be future generations!
If you live near one of these spring pools, be on the lookout for spotted salamanders! They have a tendency to end up in window wells - the three on the left were rescued from one during a spring hike to look at vernal pools and the critters found there!
We each need to do something - now.
That was the message from Dr. Kathleen Dean Moore at last night's Moral Ground discussion at MCC. If you would like to leave a world to future generations as rich in possibilities as the world we were born into, then you need to take action.