ILLINOIS - In early February, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie announced a special public education program in commemoration of the 24th anniversary of the Illinois Land Conservation Act and to celebrate the extra day of 2020. On Saturday, February 29th starting at 10AM, Trevor Edmondson, Midewin project manager with The Wetlands Initiative will share information on the frogs and toads of Midewin, discussing which species are present, what habitats they prefer and how they help sustain the prairie ecosystem and restore the land that was once the Joliet Area Army Arsenal.
Acre by acre, each restored wetland at Midewin provides more natural habitat for frogs. One example of how wetlands are being restored at Midewin is the removal of clay drainage tiles that were once used for farm irrigation. When the tiles are removed, the land is allowed to return to its natural wetland state. In 2019 alone, over two miles of clay drainage tiles were removed. Many more miles of drainage tiles had been removed previously, with more to be removed in the future.
There is a wide variety of frogs and toads at Midewin, including American toads, bullfrogs, chorus frogs, cricket frogs, gray tree frogs, green frogs and northern leopard frogs. The presence of these species has been confirmed by volunteer frog monitors at Midewin. Currently, 15 volunteers monitor 16 wetland sites by listening for distinctive mating calls. Frog monitors track the number of different frogs they hear in 10-minute increments.
The Midewin frog monitoring program is operating in partnership with the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Since its founding in 2000, the Calling Frog Survey's mission has been to train and engage citizen scientists to contribute to the organization's understanding of the breeding distribution of local frog species and to monitor long-term trends in frog breeding populations. This effort hopes to improve the collective understanding of frog response to habitat restoration and land management.
Edmonson’s leap year presentation on the frogs of Midewin will be geared toward ages eight to adult, and there will be educational activities for all ages at the Midewin Welcome Center. There will be a spin-and-win with quiz questions about frogs, as well as other fun activities for younger children as well as environmental conservation information for adults.