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At 50 years, Earth Day reminds us to care for natural beauty, celebrate achievements of local visionaries


Above / Beginning April 1, Moser Tower at Rotary Hill along the Naperville Riverwalk stood in blue illumination to help promote kindness, understanding and acceptance during Autism Awareness Month. For Earth Week, the 160-ft. tower with the 72-bell carillon will be aglow with green lights to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, April 22, 2020.

Update, April 22, 2020 / Today’s the day! As noted below, The Conservation Foundation has been hosting a Virtual Benefit Week, featuring an online auction to help celebrate Earth Day on April 22.  Items are now posted online, ready for bids, according to Jill Johnson for The Conservation Foundation. “Sit back, relax, and bid your heart out.”

Original Post, April 14, 2020 / Every Earth Day is a reminder to remember the dedication and visionary activism of several Naperville women, among many individuals, who years ago began making a difference in our natural world. Namely, get to know the outreach of May Theilgaard Watts, Barbara Ashley Sielaff, Marjorie Osborne and Lenore Clow McDonald.

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“So let’s make a bow to the Earth’s green leaves with a ‘thank you’ for things they give.” —May Theilgaard Watts

With 487 words, then-Naperville resident May Theilgaard Watts (1893-1975) changed history in the 1960s. Her letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune, published on Sept. 30, 1963, proposed a public footpath, now the Illinois Prairie Path. She has been recognized as the founder of the rails-to-trails movement in the United States and throughout the world.

While a resident of Naperville who worked at the Morton Arboretum, May Watts and her family lived in this historic house at 227 E. Jefferson Avenue, near the campus of North Central College

In Naperville, the environmentalist, writer and teacher also is honored with her name on May Watts Elementary School and May Watts Park where a pond is a natural habitat for birds, waterfowl, fish as well as a bounty of wildflowers and other wildlife.

May Watts Park is graced with a footbridge and an .89-mile trail around its pond where fish are again jumpin’. Note young anglers practice 6′ social distance the first week in April 2020. 
In early April, this young angler snagged the biggest small mouth bass he’s ever caught in May Watts Pond.

Barbara Ashley Sielaff

A tribute to Barbara Ashley Sielaff was created by sculptor Jeff Adams who designed Symbiotic Sojourn for Century Walk. The bronze sculpture recognizes the woman who became a national leader in recycling with the establishment of the Naperville Area Recycling Center in 1973. 

Find Symbiotic Sojourn on the patio at Hugo’s Frog Bar and Fish House outside Main Street Promenade.

Marjorie Osborne

Lake Osborne is named in memory of civic leader Marjorie Osborne, an advocate for water resource management. The lake in a natural setting is north of the West Wind neighborhood and south of the Naperville Public Safety Center, with an entrance at 1380 Aurora Avenue, just west of the Public Safety Center.

A walking and bike trail follows most of Lake Osborne where picnicking and fishing as well as watching birds and waterfowl are popular activities that just come naturally.

Lenore Clow McDonald

To protect her beloved family farm forever from aggressive developers interested in her property, in 1992 Lenore Clow McDonald donated her 60-acre farm along Knoch Knolls Road to The Conservation Foundation, subject to a life estate kept for conservation, education and agricultural uses. Under the auspices of The Conservation Foundation, McDonald found comfort knowing the nonprofit organization would “carry on the causes of agriculture, conservation and education that were dear to her heart.” 

Today this road leads to the Headquarters of The Conservation Foundation and Main Offices, located on the farm property purchased in 1949 by Sterling and Lenore McDonald.

Considering concerns regarding COVID-19, and “the social and ethical responsibility to minimize any contribution to the spread of it,” all previously planned April events have been canceled. For 2020 Earth Day, the Conservation Foundation is, however, hosting a week of virtual festivities, featuring ways to reconnect with nature throughout the community.

The finale will be Wed., April 22, on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Become familiar with the Earth Day efforts of The Conservation Foundation to benefit the organization set in the location of the former McDonald-family farm along Knoch Knolls Road.

Naperville trails open for biking and walking

Trails in Naperville Parks are open, but other park features are closed. Use trails only. Playgrounds, sport courts and active park amenities for contact sports are closed by order of the State of Illinois.

Use parks and trails for walking or taking in fresh air along with spring signs in nature. Enjoy the beauty and freedom of nature every day.

Practice social distancing. Social distancing means 6 feet or more between individuals and not congregating or playing contact sports. Exercise with brisk walks safely.

State Parks and Trails closed during ‘Stay at Home’

State Parks and trails have been closed to the public since the “Stay at Home” order took effect in Illinois on March 20, 2020, the day that welcomes the beginning spring and its seasonal renewal.

Referring to Illinois State Parks and trails as the “original destinations for Illinoisans to social distance, exercise and engage in recreational opportunities that improve their well being,” state female legislators on April 14, 2020, petitioned the Governor to reopen state parks.

In a news release, State Representative Amy Grant, 42nd District from Wheaton, said several DuPage County Forest Preserve trails have remained open, and that “visitors have used common sense in keeping their distance from other walkers.”

Grant wrote, “Safe and successful recreational activity at DuPage County Forest Preserve locations is proof that Illinoisans can practice social distancing while enjoying the state’s open spaces. For everyone’s emotional well-being, I urge Governor Pritzker to lift the ban on public park and trail usage and open up these parcels for responsible use.”

In a letter to the Governor, the House members cited that State Conservation Police Officers are on duty to protect Park and trail safety, and “since Illinois’ was the nation’s first State Park system to fully close, we are certain the leadership can also be the first to re-open with proper social distancing guidelines put in place and executed effectively.”

State parks and trails in several surrounding states have not been off limits during their states’ Stay Home Orders, allowing their residents to enjoy preserved natural resources while still abiding by proper 6′ social distancing guidelines. 

What can you do for Earth Day and every day to help care for our planet?

Simply put to share with youngsters: Recycle. Repurpose. Reuse. Donate gently used items to charity. Never litter. Pick up trash. Walk when time permits. Ride a bike. Shut off lights when not in use. Save energy.

Turn off water while brushing teeth. Carry a container to fill with drinking water at a fountain. Precycle to avoid plastic throw-aways. Conserve water. Keep water clean and healthy; never pollute.

Compost. Mulch. Plant a garden. Grow a tree. Grow worms.

Don’t feed ducks, geese, waterfowl or any wildlife. Let all wildlife be wild, finding food in nature.

Check out the growth of prairie plants in the Pollinator Station established in 2017 on the east side of the Naperville Municipal Center along Webster Street. 

Be prepared for flowering blues bells to bloom along the Riverwalk in Sindt Woods and throughout Knoch Knolls Park. Keep 6′ social distance while biking or using trails. Respect other individuals and nature.

Be grateful for clean water and much-relied-upon electricity that are available with a turn of a switch; yet, conserve more and waste less.

Farm families recognize that being good stewards of the land and environment is a must for the continued success of agriculture and ranching worldwide. Many of us who grew up in Midwestern farm families respect conservation and appreciate the mantra, “No farmers, no food.”

Appreciate efforts to develop sustainable, renewable and efficient energy. Value all opportunities to enjoy nature in local parks and forest preserves. Help keep America beautiful! 

Seasons change as groups of regular walkers and other wildlife are constants and familiar along the winding brick path of the Naperville Riverwalk in the heart of the city. Remember for now to keep social distance of 6 feet. (PN File Photo 2019)

Rotary Hill is alive with the sound of music sometimes…

Rotary Hill is the home of the iconic 160-ft. Moser Tower with the 72-bell carillon. Hear it bong on the hour and half hour to tell the time. Live concerts on the bells begin at noon on Saturdays and 3PM on Sundays through April 2020. Then stay tuned for times of the concert season that continues through October.

Experience the changing seasons and wildlife along the Naperville Riverwalk every day. Right now, flowering trees have begun to blossom. And blankets of blue, white and yellow wildflowers freely add color to Sindt Woods.

Earth Day is a reminder to be thoughtful stewards, taking time to recognize that science, technology and practical applications are essential to the future of this planet, helping us adapt to changes of renewal every spring. Enjoy the peace.

Editor’s Note / Your PN editor/photographer has been surprised at the number of residents who say they’ve never noticed Moser Tower at night, lighted in different colors to depict different holidays and special occasions throughout the year. As you’re traveling west along Aurora Avenue, the iconic tower is right across the street from Naperville Central High School.

Update, April 15, 2020 / If you’re a first-time reader, note that the following info is included in many of our posts to remind all individuals to stay the course:

Help keep the community safe. Stay home whenever possible. Wear a face mask or bandana. Help protect physical and mental health of everyone around you. Cover coughs and sneezes.

Wash your hands often, but don’t wash away your commonsense.

Hold onto hugs for future giving. Keep a 6′ social distance. Take walks and appreciate the flowers of spring in every neighbor’s garden. Remember things that create laughter. Call family and friends. Have faith, hope and charity to fulfill unmet needs of less fortunate.

Be safe and continue vigilance as signs indicate the curve of infections is flattening. Thanks.


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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.


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