By Jason Beverlin
Deputy Director of the Illinois River Program
January 2009 — Winter at Emiquon is a time for quiet reflection—Lake Thompson is frozen, and on-the-ground conservation work has paused for the snow and cold. Nearly 20 bald eagles—more than we’ve ever seen here—have journeyed to Emiquon since the late fall, and we anticipate seeing them soar over the frozen lake through February before they return north. Once nearly extinct, bald eagles still have relatively low populations in the lower 48 states, and they usually winter in areas with large bodies of water. All of us at Emiquon are thrilled that Lake Thompson has attracted so many of them. Dickson Mounds Museum celebrates the eagles every year, and will host the 9th Annual Eagle Days on Saturday, February 7. We’d love to see you there!
Although most of our on-the-ground work slows during winter at Emiquon, we use this time to prepare for better weather. Restoring a floodplain requires a lot of planning, especially as Lake Thompson grows, more migratory bird species return and abundant plant communities thrive. We spend these long winter months figuring out how to have an even more successful season, figuring out where to do controlled burns and where invasive species are problematic.
You may have heard me talk about how Emiquon is really a campus—we have many partners working closely to create the best conservation plans to restore this floodplain, and many students doing research here. We think this is one of the best places to learn about freshwater restoration. To that end, on March 12, a science symposium is being held at Dickson Mounds Museum, and we will discuss the results of some of this planning.