West Ridge Nature Preserve, Park Advisory Council (PAC)

Chicago Park District

You Helped Make Our May Family Nature Day a Great Success

On a lovely, but breezy spring Sunday, approximately 250 people helped kick off the first Family Nature Day of the season at the preserve. Features included feathered paper plate birds, bird nesting bowls, bread bird feeders, bird face painting, bird finger puppets, bird observation station, bird artifacts and more. "Bird" is the operating word here. There also was live music from Coalesce featuring the bluegrass band From the Start, poetry writing and nature-based movement.

Mark Your Calendars!

Next Family Nature Day: Saturday, June 24

Special Theme: Amphibians and Reptiles

Stay Tuned for More Information

May Activities in the Preserve

Bird Walk, Sunday, May 7, 8 a.m.

Family Nature Day (Bird Theme), Sunday, May 7, 11 a.m.

Frog Monitoring, May 10 - 30, ongoing at dusk (TBA)

Bird Walk, Saturday, May 13, 8 a.m.

Bird Walk, Saturday, May 20, 8 a.m.

Kids Fishing Clinic, Saturday, May 20, 9 a.m.

Stewardship Work Day, Saturday, May 20, 10 a.m.

June Activities in the Preserve

Bird Walk, Saturday, June 6, 8 a.m.

Kids Fishing Clinic, Sunday, June 4, 10 a.m.

Stewardship Work Day, Saturday, June 17, 10 a.m.

Kids Fishing Clinic, Sunday, June 18, 10 a.m.

Frog Monitoring, June 20 - 30, ongoing at dusk (TBA)

Family Nature Day (amphibians, reptiles), Saturday, June 24, 11 a.m.

Kids Fishing Clinic, Wednesday, 9 a.m.

Tom and Gary Receive VIP Volunteer Award October 23rd

The Friends of the Park bestowed a distinct honor on two of our PAC volunteers. They are Tom Murphy, our Natural Area Site Steward and Environment Committee Co-chair, and Gary Morrissey, Education and Program Committee Chair. Gary also is a Master Steward. Tom and Gary received their Volunteer in the Parks (VIP) award at a special ceremony on October 23.

Together, they serve as our preserve’s visionaries, planners, doers and recruiters. While fulfilling separate roles, they closely collaborate on environmental and educational endeavors. They also work diligently with the Chicago Park District on behalf of our preserve.

Tom Murphy

As the initiator of regular workdays, Tom manages and engages volunteers. Their ongoing labor includes clearing debris, removing invasive species, putting up protective fencing and making a new trail. He regular monitors the health of plantings and pond and has created educational posters on birds, flowers, trees and butterflies.

Gary Morrisey

Through creative programming, Gary has impacted more than 10,000 preserve visitors this year. After creating a “festival” style educational program for the preserve opening, he adapted it to a series of Family Nature Days. Other highlights include a nature play area, fishing clinics, story walks and customized field trips. His latest focus is on our Citizens Science Monitoring Program.

West Ridge Nature Preserve

Receives Advocacy Award

Linda Wilson, our PAC Vice President, holds award certificate with Juanita Irizarry, Friends of the Park Executive Director

Friends of the Parks honored our Park Advisory Committee (PAC) with a Volunteer-in-the-Parks (VIP) appreciation award at a ceremony on Oct. 18, 2015.  

We were one of 16 groups and individuals recognized for our accomplishments.  

In presenting the award to our vice president, Linda Wilson, the Friends of the Parks lauded our advocacy efforts to create the West Ridge Nature Preserve, “working tirelessly with the Chicago Park District, alderman, and community members to make sure that the preserve would be a natural wonder in the community.”

Vandals Damage Our Unique and Well Used StoryWalk

Our Park Advisory Council is sad to report major vandalism to the StoryWalk along the path in our preserve's oak woods. The StoryWalk is the brainchild of Arlene Brennan, Gary Morrisey, and Michael Panozzo. The Story Walk kiosks have introduced families and school groups to nature stories page by page for a year and a half now. 

Someone broke the metal posts supporting five of the boards, the plexiglas on three others, and removed one sign entirely. Because of this senseless act, a delightful educational resource will not grace the oak woods path any time soon.

This project was the result of donation of materials and work by members of our community.

We Have Two Important Rules

The Chicago Park District's policy for nature preserves is two fold: 1) Stay on paths and in play area and 2) No dogs allowed ever. Please note and respect the signs. Protect our wildlife.

Future of StoryWalk

We hope to reinstall StoryWalk kiosks along the oak woods path in the summer. You can then read the nature story page by page. 

Enjoy Our Nature Play Area

All Seasons Every Day

Explore the newly installed and ever expanding Nature Play Area in the fenced area east of pond. The area includes a walking path of raised tree slices, balance beams, a table and stools, building blocks, a teepee, and (when supervision is available) a rope swing.  

More families are using this area every day, including the picnickers in the photo to the left and the children in the photo at the top.

Plans are in the works to improve the design and expand the play options.