Help Save the Hill Prairies

October 23, 2021 clifftop CliffNotes

The hill prairies of Illinois are shrinking and at risk of being lost from the Illinois landscape forever. Hill prairies are home to several rare and endangered plants and animals, and they need our help to protect them from threats like brush and other weedy invasive plants. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Friends […]


Fults Hill Prairie NP Turns 50

October 23, 2021 clifftop CliffNotes

by Phil Borsdorf, IDNR District Natural Heritage Biologist Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve had a very special birthday in October 2020. This beloved natural inspiration celebrated 50 years as an Illinois Nature Preserve within the Illinois Nature Preserves System. Officially dedicated as such in 1970, it became Monroe County’s first Nature Preserve, and the 30th […]


Citizen Science is the Bee’s Knees

August 29, 2021 clifftop CliffNotes

Text and photos by Laura Schaefer Shutterbee is a Citizen Science project of Webster University, St Louis University, the St Louis Zoo and Missouri Botanical Garden with additional support by Missouri Department of Conservation and the Living Earth Collaborative. It seeks backyard gardeners and bee enthusiasts of the St Louis region to monitor their flowers […]


The Buzz About Cicadas

July 17, 2021 clifftop CliffNotes

They started this year more-or-less right on schedule. The first week of July, in the heat of the afternoon you could hear a pulsing buzz in the treetops. The first Dog-day cicadas of the year are singing. Cicadas are a very successful group of insects (if you measure success in terms of diversity).  Nineteen species […]


If You Like Flowers, Thank an Insect

June 18, 2021 clifftop CliffNotes

No doubt you have noticed that insects like flowers, but did you know that this wasn’t always the case? Not all plants have flowers; think ferns and pine trees for example. Some flowering plants depend on wind for pollination, like grasses and oak trees. Did you know these even had flowers? Non-showy flowers, like those […]


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 […]


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