Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bog Blog

 The Volo Bog State Natural Area, or Volo Bog as it is called, encompasses nearly 1200 acres in the northeast corner of Illinois.

Originally part of an old farm, the very nice Visitor Center is housed in the old dairy barn.

 First acquired in 1958, the area includes marshes, bogs, woodlands, old fields, and prairie restoration areas.  
It is the only quaking mat bog in Illinois to exhibit all stages of zonal plant succession, including an open water center. This uniqueness enabled it to be registered as a National Natural Landmark in 1973.

                             These trees and shrubs mark the edge of the old glacial lake.

 This marsh moat or wet meadow is the outer ring surrounding Volo Bog.

A half-mile boardwalk trail takes you through the marsh moat and each zone, giving you a close view of a glacial bog.  

 As the marsh ends, one enters the Tall Shrub Zone, easily seen in the pictures above and below.

  The tamarack trees here drowned in times of high water.  Tamaracks are unusual pines—they’re deciduous, dropping their needles in the fall and staining the water a characteristic dark brown.

Further along, one comes to a floating mat of live tamarack trees. 

  This is the tamarack zone, where sphagnum moss carpets the ground.

More than 20 species of threatened and endangered plants and animals include plants typically found much farther north in the boglands of Minnesota and Canada.

 The leaves of the endangered pitcher  plant are shaped like cups to hold water, which lures insects down inside.

They are then trapped by the slippery leaf surface and the down-pointing hairs inside.

 At the bog center, this small pond is all that remains of the old kettle hole lake that once covered about 50 acres. 

                                   A thin herb mat floats along the edges--

--thickening as it progresses away from the center, grading into the low shrub zone and then the tamarack forest beyond.  

                    Above is the thin herb mat floating along the pond edge. 
                Below is sphagnum moss found in the tamarack  zone.

   As the Wisconsin glacier receded from northeastern Illinois about 1200 years ago, lakes, bogs, marshes, and other wetlands formed in the depressions called kettle-holes.  Today, Volo Bog is the only such peat-land in Illinois still to have an open water center.

Based on recent changes in scientific terminology, Volo Bog is not really a bog, it is a fen.  A bog receives water from precipitation only, and since Volo Bog receives its water from ground water and runoff, it is a fen.

For more information on the Volo Bog go to: http://www.Volo Bog.com.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Playing Hooky Was Never Meant To Be This Way

 In April of 2009 the Illinois High School Association became the first high school association in the nation to host a state bass fishing tournament.

When the plan was being discussed it was thought that about 80-90 schools would be interested with one boat for each school even though two boats per school were allowed.

 That first year was a total success as 199 schools were represented and most entered two boats.

Now many schools have active fishing clubs with websites, newsletters and information on everything from lake structure, fish patterns, fishing knots, techniques, tackle and boat maintenance.

With colleges now offering scholarships for their own fishing programs, this young man could be dreaming of his own future.

 Sectional tournaments are held at 18 lakes scattered around the state.  Sectional rules allow for three students per boat and one adult driver but only two students can fish at a time.  Each school can enter two boats.  Sectionals are one day tournaments fished from 8am –3pm.

Each boat is to weigh in their 5 best fish with an award going to the boat with the largest fish of the day.   Weight deductions are made for arriving late to the weigh-in site(one pound per minute) and for any fish that do not survive(1/2 pound for each dead fish).  The three boats with the heaviest total weight advance to the state final tournament in May at Lake Carlyle in Carlyle, Illinois.  That is a two day tournament with one boat per each school that makes it to the finals.  There are two students and one adult driver allowed.

                             Conservation police are on hand to check every boat. 

 Life jackets must be worn  in the boat for the entire day.

                              All licenses and permits must be current--

                           --and safety regulations and laws must be followed.

 A last captains meeting is held so everyone is clear on rules and any changes.

                                Our launch can quickly handle four boats at a time.

   Move over guys, these gals are really serious about their sport.

                               First boats are out and ready to catch the action.

                                This year the northern sectional has 20 boats.

                           The southern sectional has 23 boats.

All boats have cell phones and are in touch with the tournament director.

At weigh-in fish are measured on a bump board to be sure they qualify--

 -- then are accurately weighed, entered in a computer and quickly released unharmed.

                      Ist place in the northern sectional(3.4 pounds)

                       Second place winners(3.0 pounds). 

                             Third place winners(2.7 pounds)

                                Ist place in the southern sectional