Current News: 2014

Read what the Prairie Group Excom is doing!
Accounts from 2011 and from 2012; the minutes of 2013 have been posted on our Minutes Page

You can download our ePrairie Flyer in pdf format.
The August edition of our ePrairie Flyer also has been emailed to members and is available at
Prairie Flyer August 2014.
You can also read the April 2014 ePrairie Flyer at
Prairie Flyer April 2014.
If you missed the 2013 editions
Prairie Flyer December 2013
Prairie Flyer August 2013
Prairie Flyer Aprill 2013

Upcoming Outings, Events, and Opportunities

Sep 20th Picnic and Starwatching

Please join us for an afternoon pot-luck picnic and (if weather permits) an evening under the stars on Saturday, Sep. 20th, at Middle Fork Forest Preserve in northeastern Champaign County, near Penfield. (Come to either or both!)

[NOTE change in schedule compared with newsletter article.   At 8pm, we'll hear a public talk from Dave Leake of Staerkel Planetarium, at the Activity Center - adjacent to where the picnic will be.   After that, at 8:40 or so, we'll all drive (~1.5 miles) to the North Waterfowl Management Area where the starwatching will be - if it's clear enough to see any.  So if you're coming just for the stars, come to the Waterfowl area at 9pm instead of 8.]

We’ll watch stars with the Champaign-Urbana Astronomical Society ( They will bring telescopes –- though you’re welcome to do that as well, and binoculars will be helpful if you have them. This is a good time of year to see star clusters and nebulae, in the brightest parts of our Milky Way. No moon nor bright planets are in the sky that evening, but many beautiful things beyond our solar system will be.

Site details: click the yellow “Map” button on the Forest Preserve’s web site:

The plan -- come to any portion or all:

  • 6PM pot luck picnic. (We'll have this part even if the weather is cloudy, but not if it's storming.) We'll run a grill, and will bring cups, plates, etc. Head for the shelter/grill by the south end of the third lake, adjacent to the campground area, and between the Activity Center and the Shower House. Drive in by the park's northeast entrance (on County 22 / 2700E, just S of where it crosses County 9 / 3500N) and follow the winding road past the first two small lakes, and halfway around the third lake. This site is the trailhead for several trails that loop through the park, so we can take a short walk after supper as darkness falls. Sunset is around 7pm.
  • 8PM public talk on astronomy by Dave Leake of CUAS and Staerkel Planetarium.   This is at the park's Activity Center, right next to where we'll have had the picnic.  Might be called off if the weather is hopelessly cloudy - Dave will leave a message on the Planetarium answering machine, 351-2567.    After the talk, we'll all drive (about 1.5 miles west) over to the Waterfowl Management Area for ...
  • 9PM starwatching. Meet at the park's northwest entrance – along County 9 / 3500N, 1.5 miles west along 9 from the County 22 / County 9 intersection, or 0.5 miles east of where 9 crosses County 2500E. If coming from the west along County 9, you'll see a white-on-black Forest Preserve sign and a large metal shed on your left (the north side of 9), immediately followed by a gravel driveway. Pull into the driveway and park. Please switch off your headlights as you turn, if possible.
Cloudy weather?  The picnic's on (unless it's raining), but starwatching is off.  If in doubt, please check the Staerkel Planetarium answering machine that evening: 217-351-2567 – Dave Leake (of Staerkel Planetarium and CUAS) will post a message.

[However note also that the CUAS will have their own monthly public starwatching open house the following Saturday, Sep. 27th at their observatory, a dozen miles or so southwest of C-U.   See]

Getting there from C-U: (Beware- County 22/2700E is closed south of the park, so don't go by way of I-74/Royal/Ogden.)
Head north on I-57, or on Cunningham/Route 45, to Rantoul. Continue north on Route 45 to Ludlow, about 6 miles. Turn right (east) onto County 9 / 3500N, and go 7 miles east on 9, crossing County 2500E. Half a mile further on 9 you'll pass the starwatching site on your left; two miles further is County 2700E. Turn right (south), go 0.1 mile, and right again into the main Park Entrance that leads to the picnic site. (Alternate route: Rantoul → 136 eastward to Gifford → north on 2300E to County 9 / 3500N → two miles eastward on 9 to 2500E, etc.)

Map of the roads mentioned above --

Sites within the park, from the Forest Preserve's "Map" button map:

Sierra Club endorses Ann Callis
Ann Callis, the Democratic candidate for the 13th Illinois District of the US Congress has been endorsed by the Sierra Club due to the recommendation of three Central Illinois groups.

A fundraiser for Judge Callis is sponsored by the Sierra Club:

5:30-7:00 pm, Tuesday, August 12th
Floyd's Thirst Parlor
210 S. 5th St., Springfield

Sierra Club endorses Carol Ammons
Carol Ammons, the Democratic candidate for the 103rd Illinois District has been endorsed by the Sierra club due to the recommendation of the Prairie Group.
The Prairie Group is co-sponsoring a public listening session for Carol on September 16th at the Urbana Civic Center. A notice on our alerts listserv and our Facebook page will give the time and other details.

Kickapoo Rail Trail Fundraiser

Please join us at our Thursday, August 28^{th} fundraiser for the Kickapoo Rail Trail. We will be mingling, eating, drinking, and learning more about the trail from 6:30-8:00pm at Sleepy Creek Vineyards east of St. Joseph.
A minimum donation of $25 is requested; the size of the room limits us to 75 people; please RSVP to Rachel at rlvellenga (at) if you want to attend. Again, more detail can be obtained at our three other sources: Prairie Flyer, Facebook, and alerts listserv.

Citizen Science - Li'l Miss Atrazine

On June 7 a group of Champaign-Urbana residents including Stuart Levy took samples of the water in Boneyard Creek and tested them for Atrazine. They were part of a survey project by students at the University of Nebraska, Omaha. There were about 50 such groups testing streams in the Mississippi River Watershed.

A fuller article about this project and the local participants was published in the August Prairie Flyer.

Know of a local event other Sierra Club members might be interested in? Let Rachel Vellenga know at rlvellenga (at)

Current conservation concerns of the Prairie Group

1. Protecting the Mahomet Aquifer from being contaminated by the Clinton Landfill and supporting its designation as a sole source aquifer
2. Reducing the use and negative environmental impacts of coal by supporting campus divestment and opposing the Bulldog Coal Mine
3. Supporting native plantings by urban developers and planners
4. Supporting City of Champaign efforts to reduce the wasteful consumption of disposable bags
What else is on this Web site?:
  •      This Home page: announcements of coming meetings and other events
  •      Meetings :
    descriptions of previous meetings of the Prairie Group -- back several years
  •      Chapter eNewsletter -- Prairie State Protector 
    signup for the email newsletter of the Illinois Chapter
  •      Illinois Chapter Calendar :
    Events of the State Chapter and the Groups
  •      Contacts :
    a list of who runs the Prairie Group -- the Executive Committee -- links to emailing them, designated positions, phone numbers, biographies
  •      Links :
    links to many local, state, and national environmental organizations
  •      Minutes :
    Minutes of the Prairie Group Executive Committee
  •      Outings :
    Outing of the Chapter and other state Groups
  •      By-Laws :
    the Prairie Group By-Laws in PDF format
  •      Flyer :
    Old issues of the Prairie Flyer newsletter, 1999-2007.

Sierra Club Radio
WEFT, 90.1 FM, Tuesdays 5:30-6:00pm

Sierra Club Radio is now on local community radio station WEFT, 90.1 FM in Champaign, every Tuesday afternoon from 5:30 to 6:00pm. Sierra Club Radio is a nationally produced half-hour radio show about the environment with a focus on what each of us can do to make our world better. Each week host Orli Cotel has in-depth interviews with politicians, authors, celebrities, artists, businesspeople, and activists inspired by nature. There is advice from "Mr. Green", lifestyle tips, and occasional commentary from former Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope.

So listen each week on your radio to WEFT, 90.1 FM on Tuesdays at 5:30 pm as Sierra Club turns the airwaves green.

Click Here to join the Prairie Group Alerts Listserv.

And Here to join the Prairie Group Newsletter Listserv.

Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club
For Political and Legislative activities of the Chapter use the link Act, then Legislation

signup for IL Chapter newsletter -- Prairie State Protector

National Sierra Club

Join Sierra Club:
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Revision of this Web page by assistant webmaster Dick Bishop, August, 2014.