Midewin Tallgrass Prairie Offers Spring Events
Wilmington, Ill. – Two bison calves stay close to their mothers at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Wilmington. The calves were born during the week of July 25, 2016 to the herd that was introduced at Midewin in October 2015 and continues to generate interest.
Photo courtesy of Forest Service Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie Eastern Region
A vast expanse of some 18,500 acres of virgin American land, Midewin Tallgrass Prairie recently hosted production of a new Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) episode of Travels with Darley: “Route 66 & Midewin.” Producer Darley Newman has been working with the National Forest Foundation (NFF) on a project that shows what the U.S. Forest Service offers in the great outdoors.
In the show, Midewin Ecologist Bill Glass leads Newman through the Will County prairie in search of the Midewin bison herd. Along the way, they encounter fields of eight-foot-tall grasses, a crew of volunteers harvesting native Illinois prairie seeds and people picnicking and enjoying the trails of Midewin on foot, by bicycle and on horseback.
Two free public previews of the episode will be held: April 1 at the Mar Theater, in Wilmington, and April 11 at the Joliet Area Historical Museum, in Joliet, where Newman and NFF Executive Vice President Mary Mitsos will attend (Tinyurl.com/TravelsWithDarley).
Since 1996, volunteers, partners and staff have been working with NFF staff to bring back some of the original species of native Illinois prairie plants to land that includes the abandoned Joliet Army Ammunition Plant (aka the Joliet Arsenal). So far, teams have already worked to replant nearly 200 species of native Illinois prairie plants.
In addition to volunteer workdays every Thursday in April, there will be an Earth Day invasive species pull on April 29.
History walks, spring prairie bloom walks and more are part of a full day of activities planned for the whole family at Midewin as part of the area’s annual Red Carpet Corridor Days, including a community-wide seed broadcast at the Iron Bridge Prairie at 4 p.m., May 6 (Tinyurl.com/RedCarpetCorridorDays).
The Midewin Welcome Center is located at 30239 S. SR. 53, in Wilmington. Trails are open daily from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, visit fs.usda.gov/midewin.