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updated: 6/20/2012 8:02 AM

Explore the Wild Side of Fermilab at Fermilab Natural Areas' Discovery Day

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  • Fermilab's Betz Prairie

    Fermilab's Betz Prairie
    Fermilab Natural Areas

Heather Williams

On July 14th, Fermilab Natural Areas will be offering guided tours of some of the lesser known natural gems of Fermilab. The 'Discovery Day' event offers local nature enthusiasts a rare opportunity to explore areas of the lab not normally open to the public.

The Discovery Day will begin at the Kuhn Barn in the Fermilab Village where visitors can chat with other wildlife-lovers before joining a bus & walking tour of some of the lab's off-the-beaten-track natural areas. At each stop, you'll meet expert volunteer guides who will share their natural history knowledge and answer any questions.

The tours will visit four premier locations: award winning Nepese Marsh where the site steward will cover its history and point out some current residents such as the secretive sora and the little blue heron. The next stop should delight any plant or butterfly lovers as the guides introduce guests to the diversity of Big Woods North and species such as the mullein foxglove and the tiger swallowtail butterfly. The tour at Indian Creek Woods will give visitors an opportunity to explore Fermilab's wetland mitigation site and see how (with a little work!) ospreys are now soaring over what was once a major construction project. Finally, no tour of Fermilab's natural areas would be complete without a stop at the Main Ring Savanna. Guides will point out some of the species such as the red-headed woodpecker and pale indian plantain which help make this such a special wild area.

"Fermilab has a wealth of valuable natural areas. Discovery Day will offer visitors a rare glimpse of some of the areas which are not generally open to the public" said Ryan Campbell, Fermilab Ecologist and Discovery Day Guide.

Space is limited for this event so please email or phone 630-840-4845 to reserve your place by July 6th. There is no fee for the tours but there is a suggested donation of $5 per person to cover the costs of the day. Lunch will also be available for purchase. Visitors should be prepared for walking over uneven surfaces, should bring insect repellant and sunscreen and wear closed toe shoes. Participants may enter the lab via the Batavia Road or Pine Street entrances and follow signs to the Kuhn Barn in the village.

Fermilab Natural Areas is a non-profit volunteer group devoted to restoring the lab's prairie, woodlands, wetlands and savanna. The group also hosts regular volunteer events and guided walks on the lab. Membership is open to all.

For more information about Fermilab Natural Areas or Discovery Day please see the group's website at