We are passing this message along from The Chicago Park District in case our members are interested in volunteering:
Dear Volunteers and Friends of Montrose Beach Dunes,
I hope this message finds you well and enjoying the New Year.
Winter's grip is starting to loosen and it's time to emerge from hibernation and
prepare for the 2013 growing season. The dunes still sleep peacefully under
snow and ice as in Ted Jindrich's beautiful attached photo, but very soon the
site will spring to life. Our first dune stewardship workday will be on
Saturday, March 23, from 9 a.m. until noon. The main activities will be
clearing rocks, wood, and other winter debris thrown up by storms and Lake
Michigan waves; repairing fences; reinstalling rabbit caging around sensitive
plants; assessing the geological changes over the winter; measuring added beach
due to historically low lake levels; and a habitat tour for newcomers.
If you haven't visited the dunes the past few months, get ready for a surprise.
The prevailing N/NW winds and currents have deposited ahuge amount of sand in
the NE corner of the habitat where the concrete fishing pier meets the beach.
The 'hook' of the pier is now almost entirely filled in and soon will be part of
the habitat. There is more beach at the shoreline, too, as the lake level
continues to recede. There appear to be about two more acres of habitat from
these changes, but we plan to measure more accurately with GPS on the 23rd when
most of the snow and ice is gone.
The increased acreage is exciting and means more bird and plant life in the
dunes, but it also presents a challenge - more habitat to manage for invasive
plants, trash to remove, and potentially unwanted human impact from activities
on and around the fishing pier. I'm confident that with the help of our devoted
and resourceful volunteer base, we can tackle whatever lies ahead.
In other good 2013 news, The Nature Conservancy of Illinois has awarded the
Chicago Park District (landowner of the dunes) a generous grant to produce
another large, 4/color interpretive sign. The theme of the new sign is
'volunteerism' and it will be placed in the west end of the habitat in the new
acre, facing the main beach. This is near the large federal sign the U.S. Fish
& Wildlife Service gave us last year (photo attached). The volunteer sign will
educate beachgoers about the diverse stewardship activities that take place at
the dunes and increase public understanding of how the site is maintained and
how people can get involved. There are many years' worth of great dune photos
to draw from, but if you have a special photo(s) of a memorable workday or other
experience you've had at Montrose Beach Dunes and would like to submit it for
consideration for the sign project, please send it to me along with your contact
information, date the photo was taken, a brief caption, and a photo credit. We
would like to have the sign in the ground by the end of the 2013 growing season
Back to the workday on the 23rd, migrant and nesting birds are starting to
arrive at Montrose, with Killdeer first reported on the beach on February 25 and
Red-winged Blackbirds seen nearby. So bring your binoculars and a field guide
if you have one, since many other migrants will be around by the 23rd.
March weather can be unpredictable, so please dress appropriately and wear
warm layers, a hat, and gloves in case conditions are cold and blustery. Don't
forget a bottle of water and sunscreen. Directions to Montrose Beach Dunes are
attached below. If a blizzard or other extreme weather prevents us from meeting
on the 23rd, the workday will be moved to the following weekend (Saturday, March
30th). A brief notice will be sent out if this happens.
To participate, contact Jason Steger, Chicago Park District Volunteer Coordinator: (312)742-4072
Directions to Montrose Beach Dunes
The dunes are located at the far east end of Montrose Beach in Chicago. If
driving, take Lake Shore Drive and exit at Montrose Avenue. Travel east along
the harbor as the road winds to the right. Park along the harbor and walk north
(away from the harbor) where you will soon see a flagpole next to the beach
house and beach. Bicycle riders, there is a lockup at the beach house. The
dune habitat is to the right, next to the concrete fishing pier. It is the only
vegetated portion of Montrose Beach.