Register by Feb. 6 for Winter Trails & Naturalist Tales

Staff Report

Embrace winter’s beauty through outdoor exploration and indoor inspiration at University of Illinois Extension’s fourth annual Winter Trails & Naturalist Tales from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 8.

Winter Trails & Naturalist Tales will be at Severson Dells Nature Center, 8786 Montague Road, Rockford, and includes two “naturalist tales” keynote speakers, a “winter trails” outdoor guided hike, and lunch. This year’s event will focus on endangered and threatened plant and animal species in Illinois.

The morning naturalist tale will focus on state-threatened ornate box turtles. Ornate box turtle numbers have dwindled throughout Illinois because of fragmentation of their sand prairie habitat. Jeramie Strickland, wildlife biologist for the United States Fish & Wildlife Service, will showcase an ongoing restoration project with the goal of reestablishing a self-sustaining, viable population of ornate box turtles at Lost Mound, part of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Savanna, Ill.

Next, U of I Extension Master Naturalist volunteers will lead you on a fun and educational winter ecology hike through Severson Dells Forest Preserve. View telltale signs of resident wildlife and learn to identify animal tracks, scat, feathers, dens, kill sites and more, all while enjoying the serene beauty of the winter trails.

Finally, the afternoon naturalist tales presentation will feature Susanne Masi, recently retired manager of regional floristics at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Masi will share details, stories, trends and major findings of the Chicago Botanic Garden’s volunteer-based Plants of Concern program, where she and numerous citizen scientist volunteers have documented and monitored more than 260 endangered, threatened or rare plant species throughout the Chicagoland region. She will highlight the work performed over her illustrious career as well as the important role that volunteers play in conservation.

Winter Trails and Naturalist Tales costs $30 per person and includes lunch, two keynote speakers and a guided outdoor hike. For more information or to register, visit or call (815) 986-4357. Pre-registration is requested by Feb. 6.

Posted Jan. 29, 2014

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