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ECCo Monthly Newsletter: April 2012

Translating museum knowledge into lasting results for conservation and cultural understanding—in the midst of a great urban center and in the wildest, most remote places on Earth.


32 species new to science in Kampankis (Andes/Amazon), including 6 frogs

ECCo by the Numbers

  • 32 species new to science in Kampankis (Andes/Amazon), including 6 frogs
  • 13 new frog monitors trained in Calumet (Chicago Region) this February
  • 2,193 species recorded in 3 weeks in Kampankis, nearly half of those plants!
  • 4,700+ students and 136 teachers from 44 schools participated in our 2011 CEEP programs
  • 53 hours of volunteer work at February Beaubien Woods volunteer days, with 33 attendees
  • 2 Bald Eagles spotted during a volunteer stewardship day in Calumet in January



Chicago Region News: A Calumet Moment

A flowering Shooting Star surprises unsuspecting visitors to the Forest Preserve District of Cook County’s Powderhorn Prairie. A beaver-chewed cottonwood falls across the Indiana Toll Road exit ramp in Gary. An Osprey preens itself near discarded living room carpet at Van Vlissingen prairie. Mighty bur oaks shade the fishing lake at Beaubien Woods just south of the Altgeld Gardens public housing complex.

ECCo brings “Calumet moments” like these to more than 4,000 children each year through the Calumet Environmental Education Program. The 2012 “Calumet Outdoors” program of monthly expert-led hikes and paddling events brings them to an even wider audience.

Another “Calumet moment” now brings new energy to the stewardship of the region’s landscape to benefit both people and nature. ECCo was an advisor, partner, and/or commentator in the following recent high-profile public announcements:

  • A major study of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore released.
  • Creation of the Millennium Reserve: Calumet Core.
  • A police firing range adjacent to a sensitive wetland is scuttled by the sudden presence of Bald Eagles.

ECCo’s goal? To use this big institutional “moment” to make as many personal “Calumet moments” for people as possible.

That’s called momentum.




Andes/Amazon News: New Conservation Area in Peru

In October 2009 our team did a rapid inventory of the headwaters of the Napo and Algodón rivers, tributaries of the large Amazon and Putumayo rivers. We found a vast wilderness that harbors a full sample of the megadiversity typical of western Amazonia. In just two weeks the team recorded 800 species of plants, 132 of fish, 364 of birds, 32 of large mammals, and 108 of frogs, snakes, and lizards. Perhaps the most unexpected find was a series of high terraces in the heart of the area, chock-full of new species.

We worked closely with the Maijuna, a now small indigenous group numbering only 200 adults. For centuries these lands are where the Maijuna have lived, fished, hunted, and gathered, but a projected road now threatened to split the forest apart.

In February 2012, just three years after our first conversations with the Maijuna, Peru created a new regional conservation area bigger than the state of Rhode Island (970,000 acres) in the Maijuna homelands. This is one of 14 new protected areas created in the last 12 years in South America with science provided by Field Museum rapid inventories.






ECCo Locations: Changes in Wolf Lake

Wolf Lake and surrounding area in 1938  

The race to fill Wolf Lake sped ahead in the 1930's, led by the Wolf Lake Speedway in Hammond and its neighboring "midget" track. On the Illinois side of the lake (left), echoes of the region's original "dune and swale" landscape are still visible. But lakefill, railroad lines, slag heaps, and residential neighborhoods continue to erase that landscape, boxing in Wolf Lake. *

Wolf Lake and surrounding area in 1973 Cars race along the seventeen year-old Indiana Toll Road, and industrial and residential development has zoomed forward with them. The state line itself is now visible on the landscape just to the left of the tollroad. It follows a berm in the middle of the lake and marks the edge of forest that now appears at Eggers Woods Forest Preserve at the top of the photo. Two Nike Missile installations neighbor the lake in Illinois, one each at the south and north ends. **


Wolf Lake and surrounding area in 2010

A recreational landscape emerges: marinas, golf courses, and an environmental center in Hammond look west to Illinois’ William W. Powers State Recreation Area and its forest preserve neighbor. ECCo’s Calumet Environmental Education Program brings students to this landscape, teaching them the joys of study and stewardship of one of the region’s special places. ***



ECCo Events

Join us for a special screening of Journey of the Universe, April 5th, 6:30 pm in the Field Museum’s Montgomery Ward Theater. Learn more and RSVP here.

ECCo Reads

A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest
William deBuys, a conservationist based in Mexico, tells the story of the American Southwest through water. The story encompasses global weather patterns, the mysterious histories and farming practices of the native people whose settlements rose and vanished in the desert, and the firefighters, biologists, anthropologists, water administrators, and others who deal with increasing dryness today and seek to plan for an even drier tomorrow. The book is a compelling read that soberly connects global climate change to the impacts already playing out in the United States. Several of ECCo's scientists work on climate change ecology (the study of how the shifting environment will affect plants and animals) and help to develop strategies that will help species and systems adapt and be resilient to the changes expected to occur in the Chicago Wilderness region. 

Published by Oxford University Press ISBN13: 978-0-19-977892-8



* Photo Credit: Historical Aerial Photography 1937-1947, Illinois Natural Resources Geospatial Data Clearinghouse, Illinois State Geological Survey, (object name 16TCM67560; accessed March 28, 2011).

** Photo Credit: USGS Historic Single Frame Records acquired from Earth Resources Observation and Science center (EROS) –

*** Photo Credit:NAIP imagery acquired from the USDA-FSA 2010 Aerial Photography Field Office –