Chief’s Letter

Mike McClelland, Chief, Division of Fisheries

Scanning through the list of articles prepared for the May 2024 edition of OutdoorIllinois Journal reminds me why springtime in Illinois is one of my favorite seasons. From fishing to turkey hunting to the return of wildflowers and their colorful pollinators, you’ll find something of interest in this quarter’s magazine.

Introducing youth to fishing sets them on a path to a lifetime spent outdoors. In this issue, read about how Illinois school children are learning about fish, fishing and healthy environments by rearing fish in the classroom. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ (IDNR) Urban and Community Fishing Program offers hands-on fishing workshops throughout the City of Chicago as well as the state, and author Patty Gillespie recalls the excitement experienced by one group of young anglers learning how to fish at an after-school program. And, to alleviate any concerns that fishing requires a great outlay of cash, Urban Fishing Coordinator Frank Sladek offers tips of equipping yourself for a minimal outlay of cash.

As ephemeral wildflowers start to emerge and flowering trees show their color, wild turkey hunters take to the woods. Steve Beltran shares his experience hunting with his young son and tips for preparing for the annual spring hunt. IDNR Turkey Project Manager Luke Garver describes the how a group of state turkey biologists and researchers across the nation have standardized data collection techniques to strengthen our understanding of turkey population trends across the nation. The annual ring-necked pheasant hunting season is several months off, but author John Cole explains the factors necessary for a successful brood-rearing season that will bring about an autumn abundance of this grassland bird.

For many people, warming weather signals it is time to go outdoors to work on their landscape plantings—or put the spade to the ground and develop a new planting bed. You’ll want to check out Laura Kammin’s story about the new Illinois Pollinators website developed by University of Illinois Extension, which she describes as providing a wealth of information about pollinators and starting your own pollinator garden. And Mike Redmer, Private Lands Coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, provides tips for how people can install pollinator gardens and enjoy watching the variety of wildlife that will visit the plot. If first-hand examples of habitat restoration work are of interest, we have not one but two articles about landowners working to enhance their property for pollinators and wildlife. We’re also publishing a story on the ecological damage of invasive plants and recommended springtime actions for removing some species from your property.

There’s even more for you in this edition of OutdoorIllinois Journal. Look for articles on the maximizing utilization of bat boxes, green-winged and blue-winged teal and how hunters helped document the expansion of the Illinois bobcat population. Anglers will be interested in stories on Mississippi River catfish, fly fishing casting techniques, bowfishing and how—and why—researchers are tracking fish in the Chicago River. If you’re interested in a road trip this year to explore some of Illinois’ most unique habitats, check out the two articles on the Mississippi River Lowlands Natural Division to learn about some of the plants and animals that reside in the swamps and floodplain forests of southwest Illinois. That’s just the beginning of the storylines you can discover in this edition of OutdoorIllinois Journal.

OutdoorIllinois Journal is a collaborative effort led by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Divisions of Wildlife Resources, Natural Heritage and Fisheries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration and the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center. Funding for OutdoorIllinois Journal was made available through Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Project W-147-T, the Illinois Wildlife Preservation Fund and the Fish Management Fund.

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