This month marks the 24th anniversary of the Illinois Land Conservation Act, and the USDA Forest Service – Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is announcing a special public education program for Leap Year.
There is one extra day in February this year, and Trevor Edmonson, Midewin Project Manager, with The Wetlands Initiative, will explain about the frogs of Midewin 10 a.m. to noon Feb. 29, including which frogs are at Midewin, and how they are helping to restore the land that was once the Joliet Area Army Arsenal.
Edmonson’s presentation on the frogs of Midewin will be geared toward ages eight to adult, and there will be educational activities for all ages. There will be a spin-and-win with quiz questions about frogs, as well as other fun activities for younger children.
Acre by acre, each restored wetland at Midewin provides more natural habitat for frogs. One example of how wetlands are being restored at Midewin is the removal of clay drainage tiles that were once used for farm irrigation. When the tiles are removed, the land is allowed to return to its natural wetland state. In 2019 alone, over two miles of clay drainage tiles were removed. Many more miles of drainage tiles had been removed previously, and more will be removed in the future.
Midewin has a wide variety of frogs and toads, including American toads, bullfrogs, chorus frogs, cricket frogs, gray tree frogs, green frogs and northern leopard frogs. The presence of these species has been confirmed by volunteer frog monitors at Midewin. As many as 15 volunteers currently monitor 16 wetland sites. By listening for distinctive mating calls, frog monitors track the number of different frogs they hear in 10-minute increments.
The Midewin frog monitoring program is part of a larger survey effort in the Chicagoland area. For information about the citizen scientist program, visit the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum website at www.naturemuseum.org/nature-and-science-in-action/citizen-science/calling-frog-survey#involved.
The Midewin Leap Year program will be held at the Midewin Welcome Center, 30239 S. State Route 53 in Wilmington.
Reserve a seat by calling 815-423-6370 or by emailing SM.FS.Midewin_RSVP@usda.gov.