Prairie Ecology at Paul Wightman Subterranean Nature Preserve

June 8, 2019 clifftop CliffNotes

Clifftop’s 535 acre Paul Wightman Subterranean Nature Preserve (PWSNP) is now open to the public for passive nature oriented recreation and education! The grand opening occurred May 18 when over 100 folks gathered on the site to dedicate the newly constructed pavilion, accessible hiking trail, outdoor exhibits / trail guide, landscaping and parking / restroom […]


Come See the Splendor of our Paul Wightman Subterranean Nature Preserve

May 9, 2019 clifftop CliffNotes

By Jared Nobbe, Clifftop President I remember the first time I stepped foot on what would become the Paul Wightman Subterranean Nature Preserve.  At the time, I was called out to help evaluate equipment that was being stored on the property.   As I worked my way through the rather impressive collection of antique equipment among […]


Spring Wildflowers Are Spectacular in the Bluff Corridor

April 6, 2019 clifftop CliffNotes

Driving along Bluff Road in early April, you surely notice a sea of blue covering the talus slope.  What is talus, you might ask?  Talus is a sloping mass of rocky fragments at the base of a cliff or bluff.  That sea of blue is Virginia bluebells. As you walk the Johnson Trail at the […]


Why Our Forests Should Be Managed

March 17, 2019 clifftop CliffNotes

By Chris Evans, University of Illinois Extension Forester Landowners often take the approach of “letting nature take its course” when it comes to their forests.  They assume that without human intervention, their forest land will return to a healthy, balanced state.  Unfortunately, for the oak hickory forests so common in southern Illinois, this approach will […]


Hunting for Conservation: Sportsmen Play Key Roll in Preserving Habitat

February 8, 2019 clifftop CliffNotes

Hunters are among the most ardent conservationists.  Theodore Roosevelt, the founder of the National Wildlife Refuge System and a hunter himself, acknowledged it.  “In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen,” the 26th president of the United States said years ago. “Hunters are a driving […]


Total Lunar Eclipse: What to Expect

January 19, 2019 clifftop CliffNotes

Written for Clifftop by Mike Krawczynski, assistant professor of planetary science at Washington University in St. Louis. 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of humans walking on the Moon for the first time.  And as of January 3rd 2019, humans have now landed on the far side of the Moon.  Our celestial companion, the Moon, still […]


History of the Beloved Christmas Tree

December 22, 2018 clifftop CliffNotes

Real or artificial, tiny or tall, inside or outside, in homes, schools, stores or churches -they are everywhere we turn. What is the origin of the Christmas tree? Evergreens have been utilized to celebrate winter festivals both Christian and pagan for years. Just as we decorate our homes for the holidays with pine, spruce and […]


Southern Illinois’ Woodlands Have Plenty of Room for Mushrooms

November 3, 2018 clifftop CliffNotes

A favorite quarry of some hunters in southern Illinois is not a deer or turkey, but morel mushrooms.  Most people are quite familiar with morels—that golden hued, sponge shaped delicacy.  Mushroom hunters have their favorite woodland spots for hunting them for they know that mushrooms and trees go together in multiple ways.  Mushrooms grow on […]


Saving Nature in Illinois, The Rewards of Persistence

October 6, 2018 clifftop CliffNotes

By William McClain, Illinois Nature Preserves Commissioner In the year 1805, federal land surveyors travelled to White County to begin dividing the Illinois Territory into townships in preparation for land sales expected in the next few years.  They carried surveying tools and camping gear, but one of their most important possessions was a set of […]


The Vital Role of Bees in Pollination

September 9, 2018 clifftop CliffNotes

By Michele Schutzenhofer, Associate Professor of Biology, McKendree University and Gerardo Camilo, Professor of Biology, Saint Louis University. Worldwide, many pollinators are in decline, which means that our food supply can be at risk. It is estimated that pollinators are responsible for approximately one-third of global crop production. While pollinators include highly charismatic groups like […]


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