Autumn Colors: Why Aren't They Vivid?

Oct 24, 2017
WSIU/Kevin Boucher

On this edition of WSIU INFOCUS, Kevin Boucher talks with University of Illinois Extension Forester Chris Evans about the reasons why the Autumn colors this year are not as brilliant as last year.

SIU Fisheries Working To Improve River Ecosystems.

May 22, 2017
WSIU Television

The health of the southern Illinois river ecosystems has been in the news recently with IDNR’s announcement that they are re-introducing the native Alligator Gar into several large rivers, including the lower Kaskaskia River.

Dr. Greg Whitledge, with the SIU Center for Fisheries Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences likes the idea of having the Alligator Gar back in its ancestral home.  Even though the Alligator Gar is a large, toothy predator, it will not be able to make a dent in the Asian Carp populations.

WSIU/Kevin Boucher

The U-S Forest Service's Little Grand Canyon, located in southern Jackson County, is very popular with both locals, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the state as WSIU's Kevin Boucher explains.

Acoustic Nature Hour Earth Day Special.

Apr 22, 2017
WSIU/Kevin Boucher

The Acoustic Nature Hour Earth Day Special is supported locally by First Southern Bank.

WSIU/Kevin Boucher

Every year at this time, the United States Forest Service closes Snake Road in Union county to vehicle traffic.  This is for the safety so that the many species of reptiles, including snakes,  can safely cross the gravel road from their winter dens in the rocks, to the swamps to feed. 

WSIU/Kevin Boucher

The annual Maple Syrup Festival will be held this weekend, Saturday February 25th, 2017 and Sunday February 26th, 2017 at Touch of Nature south of Carbondale.  In this report we learn the basics of harvesting maple sap to make maple syrup.

Mild February Resulting in Early Flowers

Feb 17, 2017
Chris Benda/Botanist/Illinois Native Plant Society President.

Unusually mild temperatures are causing some early spring wildflowers to come to life.  Jennifer Randolph, Natural Resources Coordinator at Giant City State Park says she has already seen Harbinger of Spring in bloom at the park.  "It's a very very tiny little white flower and it's kind of got a little pinkish tint on the inside but they are very small a lot of times you'll have to look under the leaf litter," Randolph adds.

Credit: Shawnee National Forest

Ducks Unlimited and 20 regional conservation-related partners were recently awarded a one million dollar North American Conservation Act Grant.  With an additional match from Ducks Unlimited and its partners, the total dollar amount for the three state project is $3.87 million.  The money will be used to improve wetlands, including the Oakwood Bottoms area, located beside the Big Muddy River in southern Jackson County Illinois.

Snake Road in Autumn.

Nov 10, 2016
WSIU/Kevin Boucher

The unusually mild weather that we experienced in late October and early November was great for people who enjoy spending time outdoors.  This mild weather also kept the well-known Snake Road closed to vehicle traffic after the original October 31st date.  Even though the road is now open to traffic, here is a visit with Paul Widowski, Wildlife Biologist with the Shawnee National Forest, earlier in November.

Improving The Forest, By Removing Trees

Oct 14, 2016
Illinois Department of Natural Resources

The Illinois Department of Conservation, in cooperation with various conservation partners, is conducting a program designed to increase the number of Oak and Hickory trees in a small section of the Trail of Tears State Forest in western Union County.

WSIU/Kevin Boucher

Every year at this time,  on a road in Union County the United States Forest Service swings two big steel gates together  and locks them shut with a huge padlock, closing a two and a half mile stretch of Forest Road 345 to vehicle traffic, more commonly known as Snake Road.   Officials do this to protect  the large numbers of reptiles and amphibians as they  make  their annual, life-saving journey from the swamps to the rocks and crevices at the base of the 100 foot bluffs to spend the winter.  Even though all motorized vehicles are prohibited from using the road at this time, hikers are e

Cache River Canoe Trip Highlights the 2016 Naturefest

May 10, 2016
WSIU/Kevin Boucher

The 15th annual Cache River Naturefest was held on Saturday May 7th, 2016. .  The Cache River Nature Fest Committee says the popular family event   drew 1,100 visitors to exhibits and demonstrations at the Cache River Wetlands Center in Cypress Illinois.  The event was a collaboration between many agencies and groups including: The Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge, The United State Fish and Wildlife Service, the Friends of the Cache River Watershed, the Illinois Audubon Society, The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Shawnee Community College and the Nature Conservancy.

On May 8th, 2009 a severe storm, known as a Derecho, hit southern Illinois with heavy rains and high winds, some of which clocked in at over 100 miles an hour.  Many homes and businesses have fully recovered from the storm.  However, the southern Illinois forest, is not back to "Pre-May 8th" conditions.

WSIU/Kevin Boucher

In Union County each year, the United States Forest Service temporarily closes the popular gravel road known as  Snake Road, to vehicular traffic until May 15th.  This is done to allow for safe passage of the myriad of reptiles and amphibian species as they migrate from the safety of the wintering dens, in the rocks and crevices of the bluffs, to the lowland swamps to spend the warm weather eating and breeding.  When people hear of the Snake Road they often first think of venomous Water Moccasins and Copperheads.  And, while it is true that these two snakes can often be seen at the site, wh

February In The Woods With Chris Evans

Feb 24, 2016
Chris Evans/U of I Extension Forester

The February woods are slowly coming to life.  Here is Chris Evans, Extension Forester with the University of Illinois Natural Resource and Environmental Sciences Department.

WSIU InFocus: The Winter Woods with Chris Evans.

Jan 7, 2016
Kevin Boucher/WSIU

University of Illinois Extension Forester Chris Evans talks about what unique sights can be seen in the January woods.  Chris works out of the Dixon Springs Ag. Center.  To learn more visit:

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Among the natural places WSIU took you in 2015, three particularly scenic areas come to mind.The Cache River and its surrounding wetlands, Ferne Clyffe State Park and Dixon Springs State park.

Garden Of The Gods will soon be on quarters

Nov 4, 2015
U.S. Mint

Since 2010 the United States Mint began issuing quarters featuring a variety of depictions of natural areas on the reverse side of the quarters.  In the Spring of 2016, five more quarters will be released to the general public and one of these new quarters features the Camel Rock formation in the Garden of The Gods Recreation Area.  Sue Hirsch, with the Shawnee National Forest talks about the news.

WSIU InFocus: Fall Wildflowers with Abel Kinser

Oct 27, 2015
Kevin Boucher/WSIU
Kevin Boucher/WSIU

Autumn  is known for vivid colors of the leaves, but, other beautiful fall plants are putting on a show, if you'll look down occasionally.  In this feature Abel Kinser, a Biology Instructor at John A. Logan College
 tells us what wildflowers are still blooming in southern Illinois.

In the 1800s, Illinois’ oak forests once accounted for 60 percent of the state’s tree population. Today, they comprise only 5 percent and are being supplanted by native maple trees and several invasive species.

A Hike at Ferne Clyffe State Park

Sep 3, 2015
Kevin Boucher

Ferne Clyffe State Park is a 2,430 acre park in Johnson County, just off of Illinois Route 37 12 miles south of Marion.  Join Site Superintendent Joe Nelson as he leads us on a trail ending at the park's famous waterfall.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, over 1,500 plants and animals in this country are currently under the strict protection of the Endangered Species Act.  The F-W-S is currently assessing the status of five Midwestern amphibians and reptiles to see if populations of these five species of animals have declined to the point where they need to be added to the Endangered Species List.  A couple of these animals can be found in southern Illinois.

Goat's Rue plant at Dixon Springs State Park
Kevin Boucher

Chris Benda is a Botanist, and the President of the Illinois Native Plant Society, and in this feature he leads a group of hikers on a wildflower hike at Dixon Springs State Park in Pope County Illinois.

Katie Bryant/Southern Illinois Birding Group

Kevin Boucher

Univ of Illinois Extension

Spring Wildflowers With Botanist Chris Evans

Apr 17, 2015
Photo by Chris Evans

Environmental Educators from all across the state of Illinois converged at Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Touch Of Nature Environmental Center recently.

WSIU's Kevin Boucher was there.