Little Armored Ones

May 22, 2021 clifftop CliffNotes

Many of us have seen them in the past few years, but usually dead on the road. The nine-banded armadillos continue to move north into southern Illinois and we have observed them at both White Rock Nature Preserve and Paul Wightman Subterranean Nature Preserve. Armadillo, in Spanish “little armored ones,” are, except for their soft […]


Benefits of Prescribed Burning

April 18, 2021 clifftop CliffNotes

With prescribed burn season drawing to a close, now is a good time to point out the benefits of this stewardship practice. Prescribed burning is a key land management tool that is used to maintain native and planted prairies, oak-hickory forests, glades and barrens. Fire was once a common event and natural occurrence in the […]


How Deer, Squirrels Survive Winter

March 25, 2021 clifftop CliffNotes

The weather has turned warm and spring is definitely on its way, but few will forget the single digit temperatures and snow we had in February. Some wild animals hibernate through the winter, while others remain active throughout the year. Observing the White-tailed deer, Illinois’ state mammal, during the recent cold spell might make one […]


2021: The International Year of Caves and Karst

February 20, 2021 clifftop CliffNotes

By Bob Weck, Professor of Biology at SWIC and Clifftop board member “International years” celebrate and inform the world about important topics, many of which are not known to the general public. 2021 is The International Year of Caves and Karst, organized by the International Union of Speleology, the worldwide organization of cave and karst […]


The Pros and Cons of the Eastern Red Cedar

January 16, 2021 clifftop CliffNotes

The name Eastern Red Cedar is a misnomer. This tree is actually a juniper, as its botanical name (Juniperus virginiana) indicates. It is native to Illinois, yet it can be considered a nuisance or even an invasive. Eastern red cedars have long been used as Christmas trees because of their abundance and lovely fragrance despite […]


How to Protect Land

December 21, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

Last month our CLIFFnotes article was focused on why we protect land. In this column we will discuss the “how” of protecting land. Protection of land can have two meanings. You can protect the integrity of property by physically eradicating exotic invasive plant species so that native habitats can regenerate and thrive to support native […]


Why Protect Land?

November 21, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

Several years ago, Clifftop adopted the motto “Local faces protecting great places.” But what is a “great place?” To some, it is their backyard, a public park or grandpa’s pond. However, the great places referenced in our motto have more to do with our natural heritage, preserving and protecting it for future generations. In the […]


Take a Pleasant Drive South for Sights Along Snake Road

October 18, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

by Susan Rick Snakes are an often misjudged and unappreciated reptilian species.  As a small child growing up under the shadows of our rocky bluffs and then living along the Mississippi River, I encountered many snake species.  My parents, like most others, were concerned for their children’s and pets’ safety when out-of-doors where they may […]


Plant a Little Prairie: How to Grow a Microprairie in Your Yard

September 20, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

By Laura Walther Schaefer Microprairies are exactly as they sound- miniature versions of our grand prairies. They can occupy as little or as much space as you have or desire. Because they are prairies, they should be planted in a full sun environment that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.  Why […]


The Gulf Coast Tick Carries Another Virus of Concern

August 22, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

Anecdotal evidence suggests that 2020 has been a banner year for ticks, but experts say that 2021 will likely be worse. The wet weather of the past few months has extended the habitat of many tick species and introduced a new species to Illinois—the Gulf Coast tick. And, as if the Coronavirus pandemic isn’t bad […]


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