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Friday, April 19, 2024

Earth Day Weekend 2023 in Naperville


Above & Below / May Watts Pond attracted a variety of waterfowl and fishermen on Earth Day 2023. Mallard ducks, great blue heron, double-crested cormorants, egrets and gulls were feeding while anglers of all ages cast their rods along the shoreline for peaceful displays of patience! 

On Earth Day 2023, several great blue heron took turns traversing May Watts Pond while double-crested cormorants dived for food. (PN Photo)

With intermittent clouds and sunshine, Earth Day, April 22, 2023, could be described as “moody” while folks made the most of it in between rain, hail, snow, more rain and gusty winds while temperatures hovered around 40 degrees.

At May Watts Park, anglers along the shoreline observed herons and egrets fishing. Other visitors walked the path where cardinals, red-wing blackbirds, robins and other wildlife provided familiar and cheerful calls.

Whatever the weather, recent Earth Days have become a time to pause to appreciate the dedication and visionary activism of several Naperville women in the 20th century, among many supporting individuals, who years ago began making a natural difference.

Namely, get to know the outreach of May Theilgaard Watts, Marjorie Osborne, Barbara Ashley Sielaff and Lenore Clow McDonald.

“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. (PN File Photo)

In Naperville, the naturalist, 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.  Early on 2023 Earth Day, many anglers had staked out locations all around the pond where fish again were jumpin’ and waterfowl soared overhead following a flight line from Lake Osborne. (PN Photo)
In early April 2020, this young angler snagged the biggest small mouth bass he’d ever caught in May Watts Pond. (PN File Photo, 2020)

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 and north of May Watts Park.

When digging into the history of Osborne’s local leadership, interested residents will learn that in June 1972, a referendum caused the dissolution of Elementary District 78 and High School District 107 and the formation of a 32-square-mile Community Unit School District 203 that exists today. Osborne ended up being elected on Aug. 12, 1972, to serve the new district with Daniel Butler, Mary Lou Cowlishaw, John Dahlberg, Dean Davis, Wilma Reschke and Andrew Wehrli.

In the mid to late 1980s, Osborne, a former member of the Naperville Plan Commission, also served as president of the local preservation society.

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. (PN Photo)

Barbara Ashley Sielaff

A tribute to Barbara Ashley Sielaff was created by sculptor Jeff Adams who designed Symbiotic Sojourn for Century Walk in 2003. The bronze sculpture recognizes the inspiration of the woman who became a national leader in recycling with the establishment of the Naperville Area Recycling Center in 1973. Sielaff also wrote a column in the Naperville Sun titled “You Can Save our Earth.”

For everything about today’s local recycling program, visit the City of Naperville website.

Find Symbiotic Sojourn on the patio at Hugo’s Frog Bar and Fish House outside Main Street Promenade, just off Van Buren Avenue. (PN File Photo)

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 in 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.

Become familiar every spring with the Earth Day efforts and activities of The Conservation Foundation to benefit the organization set in the location of the former McDonald-family farm along Knoch Knolls Road.

Click here for Silent Auction featured items for 2023 Earth Day Benefit Dinner on April 27. Be sure to check back as more items are being added to the Silent Auction all the time. Don’t forget, bidding closes at 8:45PM during the Conservation Foundation Earth Day Benefit Dinner this Thursday, April 27, 2023.

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

Simply put, listen and share thoughts with youngsters.

Recycle. Repurpose. Reuse. Reduce. Donate gently-used items to charity. Clothing donations always are welcome at Serendipity Resale Shops.

When it comes to repairing, recycling and reusing electronics and technology, get to know Thayer Johnson at Experimax. Experimax sells, buys, repairs and upgrades computers, tablets and phones for all premium brands, including Apple. And plenty of convenient parking is right outside Suite 111 in the shopping center located at 1523 N. Aurora Road.

Keep a trash bag in your vehicle. 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 from a fountain.

Precycle to prevent waste. In other words, avoid buying items in packaging which will generate waste at home or business. Avoid plastic throw-away containers.

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.

After successfully feeding on tiny fish, the egret took flight from one shoreline of May Watts Pond to the other. (PN Photo, Earth Day 2023)

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. 

Catch a glimpse of the flowering bluesbells in bloom along the Riverwalk, in Sindt Woods and throughout Knoch Knolls Park. Share the trails. Respect other individuals and nature.

Bluebells are blooming beautifully along the Riverwalk on Earth Day 2023, a little earlier than other spring seasons. (PN Photo)

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

No farmers. No food.

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. (PN File Photo 2019)

Rotary Hill soon will be alive with the sound of music sometimes…

Rotary Hill is the home of the iconic 160-ft. Moser Tower with the 72-bell carillon.

In bygone years, Moser Tower was illuminated in green lights to commemorate Earth Day.

Moser Tower (PN File Photo 2019)

Now that the two-year exterior restoration project is nearly complete, soon folks again will hear it bong on the hour and half hour to tell the time. The schedule for the live summer concert season is expected to be announced soon. 

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.

On this day, the garden planted at the Civic Plaza along the Riverwalk features tulips. Throughout the growing season, this garden at Jackson Avenue and Webster Street will change with other colorful displays of annuals. When the sun shines and the days warm up a bit, the popular gathering place will sparkle with the flow of the Dandelion Fountain where youngsters enjoy tossing coins. The Moser Covered Bridge crosses over the DuPage River here, leading to Jaycees Park, Water Street, free parking, City Hall and Naper Settlement.

The bronze plaque on the Civic Plaza reads, “Dedicated in gratitude to the people of Naperville who have united in common purpose to construct the Riverwalk as a permanent memorial and commemoration to our city’s sesquicentennial celebration, 1831-1981. THE PEOPLE ARE THE HARVEST OF OUR HERITAGE AND THE SEEDS OF OUR FUTURE.” (PN Photo, April 23, 2023)

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

As with most important things in life, the keys to preserving and protecting natural landscapes and abundant natural resources are open minds, commonsense, balance, understanding and looking forward.

Enjoy the changing season. —PN

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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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