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NICC’s Harvest Festival is again good to go

Northern Illinois ConservatiClub's Haunted Trail (rescheduled from last week) will be held Saturday Oct. 20. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media

Northern Illinois Conservation Club's Haunted Trail (rescheduled from last week) will be held Saturday, Oct. 20. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 21, 2012 6:06AM



Sometimes, the weather can knock out your best-laid plans for the outdoors and that’s what happened last week for the Antioch-based Northern Illinois Conservation Club’s seventh annual Harvest Festival.

But it’s back on for today (Saturday) from 1-10 p.m. at their grounds, located off of Route 83 just south of Route 173, across from A to Z Rental.

New this year is the “trail of terror” through the woods at dusk.

They also have a bonfire planned, hayrides, cake walk, face painting, seasonal stories out in the woods and a craft table where kids can make fun stuff to bring home.

If you get hungry, there is the Conservation Cafe.

This is great group that also hosts the longest running winter festival — the Chain O’ Lakes Ice Fishing Derby and Winter Festival.

The old story about its founding was that a group of guys formed the club one year when they were cutting holes in Antioch Lake ice to try and prevent a fish kill.

The official group was formed in 1960 by a group of sportsmen and persons interested in outdoor activities and they wanted to promote education, conservation and preservation of wildlife and the habitat.

This was a time when there was a deterioration of the habitats, ignorance of natural processes and a lack of hunter safety.

They set out to change things and they met at various spots until they bought a beautiful piece of property in 1986.

The 62.5 acres now has over a mile of wood-chipped trail for hikers, a pond, and the old farmhouse was turned into a meeting room and educational center. There’s also a small pond for catch-and-release fishing.

Members also cleared and maintain areas for camping and nature activities.

A large percentage of the land is wetlands, including two sections declared “superior wetlands” and it’s a haven for displaced wildlife in the fast growing suburbs. It’s registered with the Illinois Acres for Wildlife.

To become a member $25 for an individual and $35 for a family, and the club would like to have each member volunteer at least five hours per year at an event or project. See Web site www.lakeonline/nicc.

Hawk Watch cancelled

The Illinois Beach State Park Hawk Watch celebration had to cancelled because of weather and they are not having a rain date.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t go visit the watchers at the north unit of the state park pretty much any day of the week.

It’s manned every day through Thanksgiving.

I’ve noticed a lot of hawks recently because they are migrating, but on the shores of Lake Michigan. At the state park, they use binoculars to count hundreds of hawks following the lakeshore.

During hawk migration, the skies over the North Unit can yield species like peregrine falcon, bald eagle, rough-legged hawk, osprey, broad-winged hawk and even the occasional golden gaggle” says Web site LakeCookaudubon.org, run by the Lake-Cook Chapter of the Illinois Audubon Society.

Going batty

Speaking of Audubon, our county is blessed with two chapters. The other chapter, Lake County Audubon, will host a talk Monday called “Bats: Why We Should All Be Batty for Them!”

This group sponsors a lot of good talks that are held at the Libertyville Village Hall, 118 W. Cook Street.

This is the Year of the Bat and the talk is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. and features Lara Sviatko discussing the value of bats to the environment and the economy. She will dispel some myths about bats while giving interesting bat facts.

Our bat buddies face some serious threats and she also cover that interesting topic.

The program will discuss places to view bats here and around the country.

Sviatko has been interested in bats for 20 years and she is currently completing a six-month long study on the status of bats in Illinois. It’s free.



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