Mike McClelland, Chief, Division of Fisheries

Hello, I am Mike McClelland, Chief of the Illinois Department of Fisheries and my presence here signifies that OutdoorIllinois Journal is growing again. Staff of the Division of Fisheries and I are pleased to join the Divisions of Wildlife Resources and Natural Heritage as partners in the online magazine OutdoorIllinois Journal starting with the August 2022 edition.

We kick off this new partnership with an introductory article that briefly encapsulates 150+ years of fishing regulations in Illinois, the Division of Fisheries’ mission and a few of our greatest successes. Division of Fisheries staff prepared two articles for readers to enjoy, one with five tips to stress free fishing with young anglers and another describing the production of king salmon at the Jake Wolf Memorial Fish Hatchery. Of interest the broad environmental community are articles on 60-plus years of monitoring large river fishes in Illinois and the new campaign to Eat Well, Choose Copi. Check out the invitation from our friends at the Illinois RiverWatch Network to join a citizen/community science effort to collect and tag mussels in the upper Sangamon River this month.

Continuing the series of articles on Illinois natural divisions, we explore the Coastal Plain Natural Division in extreme southern Illinois. There, ancient, buttressed bald cypress and water tupelo trees close to 1,000 years old are visual clues of an area with unmatched ecological diversity. Read about the 50th anniversary of one of the first nature preserves in Illinois—and the nation—that was recognized this spring at the ecologically rich Heron Pond – Little Black Slough Nature Preserve. Among the unique plants and animals within the natural division that you can read about in this edition of OutdoorIllinois Journal is the appropriately named bird-voiced tree frog. Celebrating the dedication of researchers, we note the rediscovery of two species: roundpod primrose, a plant rediscovered in Illinois after a 160-plus year absence, and the taillight shiner, a tiny fish rediscovered in September 2020 after evading inventories for three decades.

The annual Illinois hunting season kicks off with the August 1 opening of squirrel season. The article Illinois Squirrel Season—Coming to a Forest Near You not only contains tips for a successful hunt, but a tasty recipe you’ll be eager to try. Another feature identified that opportunities remain to participate in the 2022 fall turkey seasons. Before taking to the field this year, hunters will want to check out the article highlighting three changes of note in the 2022-2023 Illinois Hunting and Trapping Digest. Other hunting features review an interesting research project on the genetics of gray and fox squirrels and how owning a bird dog had led to a life of hunting and happiness for some dog owners.

Also on the wildlife front, readers should note an article recapping two Illinois Natural History Survey projects. One summarizes a survey of hunters’ perceptions and attitudes toward the management of Chronic Wasting Disease. The second article reviews four decades of spatial and temporal changes in the occurrence of hemorrhagic disease in Illinois.

After being suspended in 2015, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) reopened on June 15, 2022. Two feature articles detail how the program can assist private landowners interested in reducing sediment and nutrient runoff, improving water quality, and creating and enhancing critical habitat for fish and wildlife populations. Yet another land management feature highlights a tool some landowners are using, growing season burns. Another program offering landowner assistance, the Illinois Recreational Access Program (IRAP), is featured in Ramiro Juarez’s account of how hunting has allowed him to put meat on the table and bond with his sons.

That’s not all we’ve prepared for you in this edition of OutdoorIllinois Journal. You’ll find an article on singing-ground surveys for the American woodcock, the danger of grazing livestock where the late-summer blooming white snakeroot is present and the thistle-loving American goldfinch. Click through the links to discover many additional features contained in OutdoorIllinois Journal.

OutdoorIllinois Journal is a collaborative effort led by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Divisions of Wildlife Resources and Natural Heritage and Fisheries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration, and the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center. Funding for OutdoorIllinois Journal was made available through Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Project W-147-T and the Illinois Wildlife Preservation Fund and the Fish Management Fund.

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