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Busey Woods growing more diverse

March 30, 2020 02:11 PM

While we hear the melodic chorus frogs all around us, Busey Woods has been silent for several decades.

Not anymore.

Chorus frogs have set up housekeeping in Busey Woods in the past few years. And recent otter tracks have naturalists excited.

People have spotted in the otter in nearby Crystal Lake and it is probably hunting in the Saline Branch that runs through Busey Woods.

Judy Miller, Environmental Program Manager, says it is big news that frogs are back in Busey Woods, after decades of absence. Aside of an occasional bull frog call, there were no frogs in Busey Woods for several years. Then, chorus frogs started showing up.

“Frogs are an ecosystem indicator. They are strongly affected by the health of the environment. Frogs are often the first to go if there is pollution. When the district was looking at buying Busey Woods in the early 1990's, we had an EPA study done to determine if any of the 1960's and 1970's dumping in the woods was toxic. The studies, done by a volunteer chemist, showed no residual toxins in the woods," Miller said.

She added, "This still didn't explain why there were no frogs then, but perhaps the evidence of them now is an indicator of a healthier ecosystem."

If people hike in Busey Woods, Miller encourages them to look for unusual things and share their discovery with Anita Purves Nature Staff.

"Visitors tell the front desk staff, many share photos, and can also complete a natural areas record form that is available in the Wildlife Observation Room.  Some visitors share what they find via social media as well," Miller said.

So, if you hear those chorus frogs singing this spring in Busey Woods, be sure to sing along with them and celebrate a healthy echo system.


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