New prairie, wildlife exhibition planned for the nature center in Saint-Charles

The Creek Bend Nature Center in St. Charles will likely host a new permanent and interactive exhibit on the plants and wildlife of the local tallgrass prairie.

The $ 200,000 exhibit would have an indoor and outdoor component. It would include large and small barbons, Indian grass, switchgrass, and common prairie herbaceous plants.

The exhibit would open in late summer / early fall 2022. It would complement the museum space at the Creek Bend Nature Center, which is managed by the Kane County Forest Preserve District. The nature center also has exhibits on pollinators, bison, rivers and woods.

A grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources would fund almost all of the expenses to create the exhibit. The district executive committee gave preliminary approval for the exhibit on Thursday. The entire forest district committee will vote on the project next Tuesday.

The tallest grass would almost touch the ceiling of the indoor exhibit, which will be painted sky blue. There would be a white-tailed deer, a coyote, a northern harrier, a lark and various butterflies in the interior part.

Plants and animals would be placed on a painted wall background with 3D roots hanging down from the landscape.

The indoor exhibit would be connected to an outdoor tunnel, which presents a glimpse of life in the underground meadow. It would have a simulated earthen ceiling with roots showing how prairie plants are specialized for their environment with the majority of their mass underground.

In the tunnel would be burrows with realistic badgers, prairie voles, chipmunks, oriental moles, deer mice, a groundhog, ants, mole crickets, wolf spiders and earthworms. An accompanying microscope would provide close-up views of centipedes, centipedes, nematodes, earthworms, springtails, ants, mites, pseudo-scorpions, and bedbugs.

The forest district is also investing $ 10,000 in a hotel for native bees and grassland restoration on the site.

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