Goodbye 2022…Hello 2023!


I want to thank my Nature in Chicagoland readers for visiting my blog in 2022. I continue to love writing this blog, and wish I had more time in my daily life to do so.

I visited many nature destinations in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky last year, and 10 were new spots—including Oak Park Conservatory, Garfield Park Conservatory, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, New River Gorge National Park, Pine Dunes Forest Preserve, and several in the list below. And I revisited spots that I love such as Cap Sauer’s Holding Nature Preserve, Volo Bog State Natural Area, Big Marsh Park, North Park Village Nature Center, Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Preserve, and Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary. 

I also did some interviews. I interviewed three candidates for election to the Board of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago: Yumeka Brown, Daniel Pogorzelski, and Patricia Theresa Flynn. All were elected! These interviews were some of the most-popular posts at my blog, and I was gratified to see so much reader interest in the people who will be making key decisions about our Chicagoland water resources. I interviewed David C. Mahood about his new book, Kings of a Lonely Kingdom: Earth Day Essays, Poems, and Musings on Nature; blogger and filmmaker Bob Dolgan about his nature documentary “The Magic Stump”; and artist Tara Keating about her exhibition, The Reclaimed Landscape: Celebrating the Natural Beauty of Chicago’s Southeast Side. I love spotlighting fellow writers and visual artists who are also inspired by Chicagoland nature or nature in general. These people entertain, inspire, and educate people about our natural world, and it’s great to celebrate their quality work. I look forward to spotlighting more nature-focused artists, writers, and filmmakers in 2023. 

I continue to receive a great response to my book, Nature in Chicagoland: More Than 120 Fantastic Nature Destinations That You Must Visit, which covers amazing destinations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. I look forward to telling you more about amazing places to visit in Chicagoland—hopefully in a second volume in 2023 or 2024.

I also wrote an article encouraging Cook County voters to vote YES for Clean Air, Clean Water, and Wildlife. This was a popular ballot initiative, and voters approved a property tax increase of 0.025 percent. This will amount to less than $1.66/month for the vast majority of Cook County homeowners. This is a miniscule financial tradeoff considering the benefits that are provided by the preserves. Eighty percent of Cook County residents live within five miles of a forest preserve, and visits have increased significantly in recent years. More than 62 million visitors enjoy the preserves each year—more than eight times the number of visitors at our nation’s most popular national park. The levy will generate an additional $43 million annually for the forest preserves. Now, Forest Preserves of Cook County, please manage our money wisely. 

But before I move on to 2023, here were the most-popular nature destination stories in 2022 as selected by my readers (you can click on the links to read the articles). I’ve covered the most-popular non-nature stories in a separate article. And let’s continue do what we can to Save Bell Bowl Prairie. There is something extremely wrong with the Greater Rockford Airport Authority if it can not find some way to save 2-5 acres of original prairie in response to strong demand from the public and local lawmakers. I urge the authority to place profit second in order to find a way to save this priceless prairie remnant.

I wish you a happy and healthy year outdoors!

1. Middlefork Savanna Nature Preserve: Great Blooms, Biking, Hiking, and Nature Experiences

2. Toto, I’ve a Feeling We’re Not in Chicago Anymore: 10 Nature Destinations Where You’ll Swear That You’re Not in the City

3. McKinley Woods: Enjoy Breathtaking Views of the Des Plaines River and I&M Canal, Excellent Hiking Trails and Birdwatching, and More

4. Bluff Spring Fen: A Fen-tastic Nature Experience in Far Western Cook County

5. Illinois Beach State Park: Beautiful Dune, Lake, and River Views; Hiking; Biking; Camping; and Other Great Outdoor Recreational Activities

6.  Hidden Pond Woods: What if You Held a Nature Party and No One Came?

7. Prairie Enthusiasts Executive Director Discusses Why It’s Vital to Save Prairies (Including Bell Bowl Prairie) and Celebrates the Expansion of Mounds View Grassland Preserve

Copyright (text/photos) Andrew Morkes


Looking for some great nature destinations in Chicagoland? If so, I just published Nature in Chicagoland: More Than 120 Fantastic Nature Destinations That You Must Visit. It features amazing destinations (including for birding) in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Click on the title to learn more. The book (306 pages, 210+ photos) is only $18.99. Click here to learn more and purchase the book.



I have been a writer and editor for more than 25 years. I’m the founder of College & Career Press (2002); the editorial director of the CAM Report career newsletter and College Spotlight newsletter; the author and publisher of “The Morkes Report: College and Career Planning Trends” blog; and the author and publisher of Hot Health Care Careers: 30 Occupations With Fast Growth and Many New Job OpeningsNontraditional Careers for Women and Men: More Than 30 Great Jobs for Women and Men With Apprenticeships Through PhDsThey Teach That in College!?: A Resource Guide to More Than 100 Interesting College Majors, which was selected as one of the best books of the year by the library journal Voice of Youth Advocates; and other titlesThey Teach That in College!? provides more information on environmental- and sustainability-related majors such as Ecotourism, Range Management, Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Built Environment, Sustainability Studies, and Sustainable Agriculture/Organic Farming. I’m also a member of the parent advisory board at my son’s school. Stories about my work have been published in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Southtown, Beverly Review, and Practical Homeschooling.

In addition to these publications, I’ve written more than 40 books about careers for other publishing and media companies including Infobase (such as the venerable Encyclopedia of Careers & Vocational Guidance, the Vault Career Guide to Accounting, and many volumes in the Careers in Focus, Discovering CareersWhat Can I Do Now?!, and Career Skills Library series) and Mason Crest (including those in the Careers in the Building Trades and Cool Careers in Science series).

My poetry has appeared in Cadence, Wisconsin Review, Poetry Motel, Strong Coffee, and Mid-America Review.


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