Peoria Audubon Society is a local affiliate of both:
Jubilee Prairie Dawgs:
Prairie at Jubilee College State Park
Doug Franks and the members of the Jubilee Prairie Dawgs, a local group of volunteers, dedicated to native prairie restoration, provided an opportunity to experience several plots of restored native prairie at the Jubilee College State Park. The Dawgs were gracious hosts to provided a guided tour and inspirational walk through several plots of restored native Illinois prairie inside and near Jubilee. In addition, note that the Jubilee Prairie Dawgs are the volunteer stewards of Brimfield Railroad Prairie Nature Preserve owned by the Peoria Audubon Society.
Dennis Endicott of Peoria Audubon took the photos to share with the group.
Doug Franks Welcomes Everyone to the Prairie Dawg Tour
Not only did the Prairie Dawgs welcome everyone, many of them were gracious to provide treats and refreshments. With the recent high temperatures and high humidity, the teas and cold bottled water were especially welcome. Doug insisted that before walking out in the prairie, everyone take an iced-down bottle of water with them.
Group Listening to Doug Before the Tour
Before we got on the tour Doug explained a bit about the history of the Prairie Dawgs. One of the Dawgs mentioned that a Barn Owl has been staying in the old barn on the property. She even pointed out to a couple of owl pellets that were in the barn. Note that the Peoria Astronomical Society conducts their star gazing activities from an observatory dome at this location. In fact, being surrounded by a few thousand acres of Illinois savanna and woodland helps the star gazers get away from the light pollution of the big city. And, it makes for a nice place to walk along with nature.
Doug Shows Off Rattlesnake Master
After the brief talk about the prairie, Doug led the group through the restored prairie. As we strolled along, Doug provided little background stories to go along with the native plants. The Rattlesnake Master got its name from the dried seed heads as they could be used as a rattle. Doug indicated that the American Indians and pioneers thought the roots could be used an antidote for rattlesnake bite. Note that this belief was not correct.
Patch of Purple Coneflowers on the Jubilee Prairie
There were several small clumps or patches of Purple Coneflowers in a number of spots. In the above image, Doug indicated that everyone was walking through a savanna - due to the scattered presence of trees; mostly black walnut and hickory in this location.
Mason Navigates Through the Tall Prairie
The tour was a family affair as Mason and his dad walked through the tall prairie. The smile on Mason's face tells it all!
Tom Hintz Explains Importance of Prairie Restoration
Tom Hintz, Site Superintendent at Jubilee College State Park (which includes the above plot that the Prairie Dawgs restored) was on hand. Tom helped explain the importance of prairie restoration and the impact on the biodiversity of the prairie plants.
Lisa Shows Off Wild Quinine
Lisa of the Prairie Dawgs pointed out an example of Wild Quinine. The Wild Quinine was used as a substitute source of quinine in World War I when the supply of Cinchoa tree bark was in short supply. The quinine was needed as a treatment for malaria.
Doug Shows Off Wild Sweet Clover
Doug said that the Wild Sweet Clover becomes somewhat of a "pest" plant as it is invasive and causes a big problem with the prairie restoration.
A Resting Red-spotted Purple Butterfly - Wings Folded (upper image) and Flat
With all the prairie plants, there were a number of butterflies present. The Red-spotted Purple, shown above, is well known for their iridescent blue markings.
Rick Shows an Example of Sumac
Rick is holding an example of sumac that the Prairie Dawgs remove from the prairie. Rick indicated that this is one of the woody shrubs that are generally controlled by fire.
Silas Asks if He Can Have a Blackberry
As we walked through the woods to another prairie plot, the sharp eyes of the kids (and adults) pointed out the ripe blackberries. After checking with their parents, Silas and Mason were allowed to have a few tasty blackberries.
Silas and Mason Enjoy a Juicy Blackberry
Everyone smiled as Silas and Mason had a few tasty bites. Ahhh, the enjoyment of getting to explore nature and the great outdoors.
Photos courtesy of Dennis Endicott - All rights reserved
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