Good morning, troops. It's Friday, Dec. 28.
What once were homes for birdies in Peoria soon might be homes for more bees. And blooms, too.
Donovan Park and the former Detweiller Golf Course are to become expanded habitats for two endangered species — one an insect, the other a plant.
A state grant of almost $61,000 is to help work begin in the spring, according to Emily Cahill, the Peoria Park District executive director.
Work at Donovan Park is to include an expansion of a pollinator garden for the rusty-patched bumblebee. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service includes the bee on its endangered-species list.
The current 1-acre garden near the entrance of the park at 5805 N. Knoxville Ave. is expected to grow to 10 acres, according to Cahill. The garden consists of tallgrass prairie and flowering plants from which the bees gather pollen and nectar.
"We are one of the very few places anywhere that still has a rusty-patched bumblebee habitat," she said. "Hopefully more bumblebees will come and make more bumblebees and help us address the issue."
The area is located near what was the third tee of Donovan Golf Course. Declining finances and play led to the course being converted to a park following the 2014 golf season.
Even when Donovan was a golf course, it was a rusty-patched bumblebee habitat, Cahill said. The expanded garden also is expected to benefit the monarch butterfly, which has seen a population decline.
Detweiller Golf Course closed following the 2017 season. It was and remains home of the decurrent false aster. The endangered plant is found in wetlands along the Illinois River, which borders the old course at 8412 N. Galena Road.
Elimination of chemicals that were used to maintain the golf course should help the aster, Cahill suggested. The plant relies on periodic flooding to wash away competitors.
"When it floods, it helps to restore the wetland balance," Cahill said. "That happens more naturally. The Donovan one is more intentional and requires some prep work to happen."
The Park District is working in conjunction with the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Illinois Farm Bureau and the local chapter of Pheasants Forever, a conservation group. Funds of about $64,000 are to match the Illinois Department of Natural Resources grant.
Habitat changes are expected to take a year to 18 months to implement, according to Cahill. Park District employees and volunteers are to work with other outdoors agencies, including The Nature Conservancy.
"For me, one of the high points of grants like this is the collaborative process, to make sure that we're getting all those passionate people together to do good things," Cahill said.
The song heard on the way to work has nothing to do with endangered species, but it is one of the few rock hits that features a marimba solo.