Make it Memorable: Host Your Next Event in the Beautiful Forest Preserves of St. Charles

Within the wooded areas of the forest preserves of St. Charles sits our beautiful rental facilities, ready to make your next event a memorable experience. Creek Bend Nature Center and Barbara Belding Lodge have hosted many special occasions including weddings, birthday parties, and corporate events. At both properties, guests are treated to the views of our woodland areas while enjoying the comfort of our updated facilities.

 

Creek Bend calls LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve home, sitting just a few steps away from the banks of Ferson Creek. The home dates back to the 1930s and has a rich history. It also holds the nature center, an interactive space where visitors can learn about the preserve and the many creatures that live within it. There are plenty of rooms to rent within the house, including the grounds that have seen many beautiful outdoor wedding ceremonies and receptions.

 

 

 

 

Photography by @Nicodem Creative

 

Nestled in the woods of Brewster Creek Forest Preserve, the cozy venue also known as Barbara Belding Lodge sits, surrounded by woodland. The lodge houses multiple meeting rooms, a catering kitchen, seating for over 100 people, and an expansive outdoor deck that gives visitors a stunning view of the forest. Built on the former grounds of the YWCA Camp Tu-Endie-Wei, the lodge and 27-acre preserve sit on the Brewster Creek greenway. Consider the lodge for your next special event to create a lasting memory for you and your guests!

 

 

 

Photography by @KristaWeberPhotography

 

If either of these properties catches your eye, we encourage you to come visit us during open tours on Wednesdays from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. We would love to show you what our venues can offer you and your event. For more details, call 630-444-3064 or email events@kaneforest.com.

 

Check out our Facebook pages for more pictures from events held at these venues: 

@CreekBendEvents 

@barbarabeldinglodge

Best Birding Spots in Kane County Forest Preserves

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A pelican is spotted at Dick Young Forest Preserve by Erica Lemon, District Naturalist

Within the trees that reside in the Forest Preserve District of Kane County lives a wide variety of birds big and small. Throughout the year, different species can be spotted across the county, making our forest preserves an excellent destination for avid birders. Although some seasons may bring more excitement than others, you’re sure to hear birdsong any time of year and identify at least a few of our flying friends. Wondering when and where to go birding in Kane County? Keep reading!

In any season there is guaranteed to be activity. Summer is typically quieter time as most birds are off rearing their young in nests and trees. However, you can still find and hear many species! Spring is considered one of the most exciting seasons for birding as there are not only many native species out, but migrating species visit during this time as well. Birds can be heard singing throughout the trees and found sporting their courtship plumage as they search for a mate. As for fall and winter, there are bird species aplenty as well; although you’ll have to brave the cold to see them! Owls are a popular bird seen during the wintry months, and the Great Horned Owl nests during this time- which has been found at multiple forest preserves in Kane County including Fabyan Forest Preserve and Johnson’s Mound.

Kane County’s forest preserves offer a range of landscapes and habitats, which makes for a great variety of birds:

Tekakwitha Woods: Excellent for songbirds and waterfowl due to its location along the Fox River. This preserve tends to be busiest bird-wise during spring and fall migration.

Jon Duerr Forest Preserve: Also a great location to view songbirds, and is located on the Fox River. The river acts as “bird highway” during migration, and this preserve has quite the record for sightings. Reported sightings include Prothonotary Warblers, Blackburnian Warblers, and Summer Tanagers. 211 species have been spotted here, making this a highly recommended spot!

Dick Young Forest Preserve: Due to the many different habitats at the preserve (prairie, woodland, and wetlands) there are a variety of birds that can be spotted here such as grassland and wetland birds. The woodlands are filled with warblers in the springtime, and the marsh hosts all manners of waterfowl during migration season such as egrets, mergansers, teals, and even white pelicans are known to stop here! Overall, 249 species have been reported at this site.

Bliss Woods Forest Preserve: There are certain species of birds that have very specific habitat requirements which means that they can’t be found just anywhere. Bliss Woods provides an essential interior woodland habitat that many birds, such as the Pileated Woodpecker, can be found in. Another bird known to inhabit these woods is the Red Headed Woodpecker, just one of the 150 species that have been reported at the preserve.

 

While there are many spots around the county that are excellent for birding, these are just a few that come highly recommended from our Naturalist staff. If you have a favorite birding spot, comment below, we’d love to know!

Get To Know A Naturalist: Josh Libman

 

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Josh presents at a program

Name: Josh Libman

Alma Mater: University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign

Hometown: Lockport, IL

Years worked at the Forest Preserve District: 5 years

How and when did you become interested in being a naturalist?

I’ve been tuned into nature my whole life. In high school, when asked “what do you want to do with the rest of your life?”, the answer came pretty easy – park ranger!

What is your favorite part about being a naturalist?

The natural world is constantly in flux, and every day brings a new discovery. My favorite part of being a naturalist is having the opportunity to stay in touch with that.

What is the most important skill you have acquired throughout your career?

The most important skill I have acquired in my career is the ability to find an interpretive moment in any situation. Whether it’s a spider crawling across a classroom floor or a warbler singing its heart out in the forest canopy, you have to be ready for anything!

If you could take a hike anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I love travel, so hiking anywhere would do! Provence in France sounds cool!

What is one item you can’t live without?

I can’t live without chapstick.

Do you have any hobbies outside of work?

Outside of work I love to bird watch and cook. Visiting a local farmer’s market, finding fresh produce, and preparing a meal for loved ones is a solid day in my mind!

What is your favorite genre of music?

Psychobilly shoegaze crustpunk

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

Do you have a favorite animal and/or plant species?

I don’t have a specific favorite animal, but I am partial to birds in general.

What has been your proudest moment in your career?

I am proud every time I get a special request for a guided hike.

What is your favorite event at the Forest Preserve District?

My favorite event is a program called Kane County Certified Naturalists. It really feels like we’re empowering adults to make informed, ecologically sound decisions.

What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring naturalist?

Advice for a future naturalist: start with humble beginnings and work your way up! Volunteering can lead to an internship, which can turn into a position. The naturalist community is full of interesting people, get out there and make some connections!

 

 

A Week in the Woods

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Naturalist Ben Katzen leads campers on a hike through the prairie

Have your kids always wanted to learn how to survive in the woods, or learn how the field of STEM relates to nature? Or maybe their goal (or yours for them) this summer is to unplug from technology and immerse yourself in the great outdoors! Then we have great news: the Forest Preserve District’s summer camps are a perfect activity for your child. At our naturalist-led camps, kids will be able to get out of the house and into nature at LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve throughout the summer.

Survival skills are extremely important to both animals and humans who may venture into the woods! In the first week-long installment of summer camp, “Tracking and Survival”, kids will learn how to “read the woods” by searching the forest preserve for clues such as tracks and rubbings that will reveal the hidden world of animals and how they survive in the woods. Kids will also learn human survivals skills such as how to make a rope and build a shelter, among other lessons. It will be a week filled with games, crafts, and lots of hiking!

In July, we’ll discover the beauty of the natural world through STEM-based learning principles at “STEM in Nature”. With the help of naturalists, campers will discover that STEM is all around us in nature! There will be lessons around the architecture of a bird’s nest, the feat of an insect gall, the symmetry of beehives, and much more.

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Campers take a swim in the creek with Naturalist Josh Libman

In the last summer camp installment in August, we’ll focus on enjoying the beautiful weather and outdoors the best way possible; unplugged! At “Summer Unplugged”, kids will have the chance to experience the grandeur of the outdoors just like they did in the good old days. Getting in touch with nature will be the focus that week as campers will be able to play around the forest without any of the common distractions that come with everyday life. The woods, creek, and prairie are just waiting to be explored!

Each nature camp will run for five days each, Monday through Friday. The dates are as follows: “Tracking and Survival” June 24-June 28, “STEM in Nature” July 15-July 19, and “Summer Unplugged” August 5-August 9. Camp is for kids entering 1st-6th grade, and there is a fee of $175/child for the week. Advance registration is required, register by calling 630-444-3190 or email programs@kaneforest.com. 

May Garlic Mustard Pull

 

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Robb Cleave, Volunteer Coordinator at the Forest Preserve District, demonstrates how to remove Garlic Mustard.

Removing invasive species is important for our local environment. Garlic Mustard is an especially invasive species that affect states all over the country, specifically afflicting our local forest preserves as well! Earlier this month, the Forest Preserve District collaborated with Aurora Christian School’s students to remove Garlic Mustard from Elburn Forest Preserve!

For many invasive plants, specifically Garlic Mustard, removal is the most effective treatment. Garlic Mustard has shallow roots, which allow it to grow upward very quickly and shade out its surrounding native plants. Luckily, the shallow roots make it easy to pull out of the ground, preventing it from reseeding for the next year. At this removal, a few students and employees of the Forest Preserve District worked together to pull the Garlic Mustard population at the forest preserve. There was a larger population of the invasive plant in the area, but together they were able to pull over 200 lbs. of Garlic Mustard, and even observe some wildlife along the way!

Looking to remove this plant from your yard or a local natural area? Be sure to have trash bags ready for storage of the plants during removal, and remove the entire root system, not just the stem, so there is a chance the plant can regrow. Fun fact: after you’re done with removal, you can make a meal with your gatherings! Garlic Mustard has historically been used as an herb in many recipes- but be sure to cook it first. At the end of the day, you’ll have done your local environment- and dinner- a favor!

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Aurora Christian students pose with the garbage bags of garlic mustard they pulled.

 

Interested in volunteering with the Forest Preserve District? We host many invasive species removals as well as many other events! Check us out at http://www.kaneforest.com to learn more about how you can help!

The Buzzzzz on Pollinators

 

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A bee lands on a flower. Photo by Valerie Blaine.

Bugs. They seem to be everywhere, right? Buzzing around gardens and other natural areas, or sometimes even your dinner as you try to enjoy a summer picnic outside. While it may seem there is an abundance of them, not all bugs are thriving as of lately. Populations of pollinators across the world are suffering. According to the National Wildlife Federation, habitat loss, invasive species, and pesticides are just a few of the reasons why our tiny friends are disappearing. But there’s good news! Luckily, there are many ways you can help our local pollinators to thrive in your very own garden.

Build a bee house. Although it may sound silly, bees need a place to live too! Yes, the most familiar type of bee, the honey bee, live in a honeycomb but there are actually many species of bees who don’t! By constructing small structures, you’re giving a bee a safe place to lay their eggs or hibernate, as they normally lay them in tunnels they carve into wood. These houses can also be an adorable addition to your garden!

Plant pollinator-friendly species. There are a variety of plants that pollinators love, and you’ll love too for their beauty! Pollinators need pollen and nectar as a source of food but also as a shelter from predators for them and their young. To build an inclusive garden good for all pollinators, plant native species. Research on what plants attract which pollinators to offer a variety for every species and for you to enjoy. For example, Black-Eyed Susans are known to attract bees, while Monarch butterflies love Milkweed!

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A Milkweed plant

Avoid or limit the use of pesticides. For pollinators, pesticides are bad news. While they can control any unwanted weeds, pesticides can also harm our tiny flying friends. Consider other pest control options that are much friendlier to your garden and the pollinators in it. There are certain natural pesticide options, such as vinegar or essential oils that will not affect or harm pollinators in any way, so consider using these the next time there is a pest problem in your backyard.

Get involved. Spreading the word to others about taking care of our pollinators is one of the best ways to support them. There are plenty of volunteer positions with the Kane County Forest Preserve that aid in preserving our beautiful, local wildlife.

Attend National Pollinators Week! During the week of June 17- June 23, the Forest Preserve District will be a part of the international celebration of Pollinator Week. We will be highlighting the valuable ecosystem services provided by our local insects, mammals, birds, and other many pollinators. Check out the many fun activities throughout the week, including pop-up naturalist tents at different forest preserves, the Monarchs and Milkweed Festival (free pollinator-friendly milkweed plants while supplies last!) and self-guided activities at the nature center. Celebrate the pollinators that make our ecosystems thrive!

 

A Match Made in Heaven: Creek Bend Wedding Shoot

Love is in the air at Creek Bend Nature Center! This venue sits on LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve and is just steps away from Ferson Creek. It’s the perfect natural setting for any wedding or special event! In early May, we were lucky to host various vendors and photographers as they collaborated on a wedding shoot. The photos are stunning, and we are so proud to have served as the backdrop for these pictures! Scroll down to experience the beauty of Creek Bend:

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Interested and want to know more about Creek Bend?

Open tours are every Wednesday, 3 p.m.-7 p.m.

Or

Call 630-444-3064 or email events@kaneforest.com

 

Venue: Creek Bend Nature Center in St. Charles, IL

Photographers:

Expedition Joy Photography @expeditionjoy

Polished Arrow Photography @polishedarrowphotography

Vintage Rentals: Forget Me Knot Vintage Rentals @forget.me.knot.rentals

Signage: Illumination Custom Designs @illuminationcustomdesigns

Florals: Florals by Debi Barone, Dundee, IL

Make-Up: @laurenn_nelsonn

Dress: @missstellayork from @crystalbrideofficial

Coffee Cart: @barista_of_chicagoland

Cakes: @ericakorencakery

Invitations and Paper Goods: @heritagecreativeco

 

Woodland Birthday Parties

 

 

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Does your child have a birthday coming up soon? Let us host the party with one of our Woodland Birthday Parties! Surrounded by the trees, birds, and other woodland creatures at LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, we will provide the best party for any nature-loving child.

Treat your child and their friends to a one hour, naturalist-led activity of your choice. Learn about the plant and animal species that call our local woodlands home during a hike led by one of our Naturalists through the beautiful trails of the forest preserve. Looking for a more cozy setting? The other option is a hands-on campfire, with a naturalist led discussion about a variety of nature topics. After the naturalist activity, the group is given an hour to stay in the historic Creek Bend facility and have free time in the Nature Center.

All parties come with unique, nature themed party favors for every child to take home with them. Food is not provided as a part of the party, but families are more than welcome to provide their own. Although decorations are not provided as a part of the package, guests are welcome to enter the facility early to decorate for their party.

Consider a Woodland party for your child’s next birthday party! The natural surroundings and hands-on experiences will be sure to make your child’s birthday one to remember. For more details, email programs@kaneforest.com or call (630) 444-3190.

How to Prevent Invasive Species

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Invasive brush at Glenwood Park. 

Spring is in the air, and summer is on its way! This means that plants are growing and flowers are blooming once again. However, the change of seasons also suggests the return of some rather not-so-welcome plant species; the invasive kind. Invasive plants are not native to the area in which they grow, spread quickly, and can cause damage to the environment around it. So, what are some ways that you can prevent invasive species from inhabiting our local environment?

 

If it looks suspicious, leave it there.

There are a few invasive species that can appear to be beautiful or interesting. A good guideline to follow is if you don’t know what it is, leave it there. This prevents the spreading of their seeds to other areas through transport. There are plenty of native species that would make a much better (and safer) bouquet.

 

Proceed with caution.

If you’ve spent an afternoon out in nature, be sure to clean off any clothing items before moving to another environment. Seeds can often cling to shoes, pants, etc. and make a new home anywhere they may fall. Washing them is often the most effective way of getting rid unwanted hitchhikers. Pets can also carry seeds that may cling to their fur, so be sure to give them a good cleaning as well.

 

Keep it native.

Spring and summer is prime time to do gardening to keep your yard looking lush. When selecting plants, try to choose only native plants that will create a better environment for their neighboring greenery. Native plants also help to prevent the spread of invasive species to create a natural defense system right in your backyard!

 

Educate others and yourself.

Think you may have spotted an invasive species? The best step you can take is to remove it. Illinois houses many invasive species; from grasses to vines, these unwanted guests take many forms. A few common examples are garlic mustard and Japanese stillgrass. If you are unsure, research if the plant is invasive or not, and exercise caution when transporting them to the trash.

 

Volunteer!

Invasive species can be found all over Kane County. The good news is, the Kane County Forest Preserve hosts many removal programs for invasive species, and we can always use your help! For more information about these removals, visit our website at http://www.kaneforest.com

 

 

 

 

Mark your calendars for Hooked on Fishing – Sunday, June 2

The Forest Preserve District of Kane County will be hosting the annual Hooked on Fishing event for kids on Sunday, June 2, from 8 a.m. – Noon at Oakhurst Forest Preserve.

We’ll supply the fishing gear and bait. Lunch will be provided by Papa John’s Pizza! If you have fishing experience and would like to volunteer to help kids ages 15 years old and under bait, cast, catch and release, call our Volunteer Coordinator at 630-762-2741.

Thank you to our sponsors: Bass Pro Shops; Papa John’s Pizza; Robert Renteria (Foundation From the Barrio to the Board Room); SS Minnows Bait Shop; Wash Broker Coin Laundry Consultants.HOF_Logo_2018_Color_FINAL