Spotlight on the Fox

A River Flows Through It, Life in the Fox Valley

Monthly lecture series to examine 'critical role' river plays in its valley's environment

By David Sharos For Beacon-News.

Fox River view

A series of monthly lectures beginning in January will put a spotlight on the importance of the Fox River.

The series will be held courtesy of the River Corridor Foundation of St. Charles.

The popular The River Flows Through It lecture series will return on the third Wednesday of each month beginning Jan. 18 and include both speakers from previous years as well as some new ones that foundation board member John Rabchuk said have been recently discovered.

"This is our third year and over the first two years we've gotten a lot of good feedback and we average somewhere between 75 and 80 people per session. We've gotten great comments from people who don't wander away to Florida or Arizona during the winter and early spring," he said. "People are looking for something to do in the winter. The sessions are free and there are interesting topics, and this also helps shed some light on some of our other projects."

The series will begin with "Dam Night Out," which will be presented by Friends of the Fox, which offered a presentation in August in Aurora about the benefits of removing the dams that remain operational on the Fox River.

According to a press release written by Rabchuk, the Carpentersville dam is currently scheduled for removal in 2023, the next chapter in a long-range plan for the Illinois section of the Fox River, with additional dams scheduled for removal or modification in the near future.

"This presentation has been repeated to large audiences throughout the Fox Valley as it discusses the ecological, recreational, historic and economic perspectives of the Fox River dams," Rabchuk wrote.

The series will continue on Feb. 15 as Pam Otto of the St. Charles Park District will present a talk entitled "The Endangered Species of the Fox River Valley."

"Pam is very popular and has spoken before about the wildlife and natural environmental things. Last year she talked about the mammals of the Fox River — otters and beavers, etc., — and this time she is going to talk about endangered species that are rare here in the Fox River valley," Rabchuk said.

Another new addition this year will be a speaker from the Audubon Society on April 19 who Rabchuk said "is going to do a presentation on the local songbirds."

"There will be some of the common ones as well as rare sightings that have been spotted here the last couple of years," he said. "We did not have the Audubon Society last year but we did have them the time before that and the talk was very, very popular."

Another new addition is planned for the March session, which will be a presentation that will focus on former inhabitants of the region.

"We wanted to put on a talk about the indigenous people who populated the Fox River valley. We had a speaker lined up who just canceled on us a couple of days ago and we're looking to find somebody else," Rabchuk said. "Our intent is to still have that topic be covered by someone, and we're currently interviewing candidates that could make a good presentation in that area."

On May 17, Ryan Solomon of the St. Charles Park District will present "Fishing on the Fox River" and discuss the improving river conditions for fishing on the Fox River and its tributaries.

Topics, Rabchuk said, continue to be driven by local residents who make requests and well as ideas from foundation board members.

"We ask people to fill out a questionnaire at the end of each session and ask is there a topic you'd like us to include in future sessions," he said. "We have a board of about 20 members and they also bring in suggestions from people they know or from themselves."

Rabchuk said the popularity of the series continues "because people that live here in the valley all the way from Ottawa to the Wisconsin line have a special attention to the river."

"It plays such a critical role in our environment, both recreational and economically, and I think they have a real love for it," he said. "When we do our river clean-up days in September, we had 150 volunteers each year just for the St. Charles section. There's a real outpouring of interest and concern about the river and you can look and see that the river is improving."

All lectures will be presented from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Baker Community Center, 101 S. 2nd St., St. Charles, with the exception of the Feb. 15 lecture, which will be presented at the Hickory Knolls Discovery Center, 3795 Campton Hills Road in St. Charles.

While all lectures are free to the public, attendees are requested to register online in advance at 4BA8A92FAAF5CE9-ariver1 to ensure seating.

David Sharos is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.



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  • The River Corridor Foundation of St. Charles
  •   P.O. BOX 3753
    St. Charles, IL 60174

Mission Statement

The River Corridor Foundation of St. Charles supports and advocates for projects that will enhance the downtown riverfront environment as a destination for cultural, educational, recreational, and economic opportunities that are accessible to all.