Glad group posing for pictureNotice anything different when you’re walking along the lakeshore? It’s cold! Along with cooler temperatures, shorter days and changing leaves, it’s also the end of our Great Lakes Action Days (GLAD) season.

We’ve removed invasive plants, planted native species, monitored water quality, surveyed fish populations and picked up almost 1,500 pounds of trash! And now, after six months of outstanding restoration action, we finished with two final events at 63rd Street Beach. Last week, the hardiest of our GLAD crew braved frigid temperatures to pull some equally tough trees.

For several weeks, we’ve cleared a wetland at 63rd Street of cottonwood saplings. These trees are native to our region, but unhindered by the challenges of a natural environment—like fire—they can be highly aggressive, invading coastal dune and wetland habitats.

63rd Street Beach has had its challenges with cottonwoods, dating back to the turn of the last century, when the park commission planted them for shade—what a nice idea for picnics, right? Now, saplings sprout by the thousands, especially in the moist soil of the wetland area north of the beach house.

Fortunately, after a hugely successful first season, Shedd’s GLAD program is like a finely tuned restoration machine (fully operated on sustainable fuel, of course—100 percent enthusiasm!). By next year, those cottonwoods will have a real run for their… er, leaves?

In addition to a newfound love for the Great Lakes, our volunteers have also found some weird items while sweeping beaches this summer and fall. What were the strangest finds? We found everything from a circa 1970s rotary telephone to a sleeping bag to a tiny door from a dollhouse. Never a dull day at the beach!

Great Lakes shaped cookieAs a final nod to our success this summer, we also enjoyed a sweet treat at the end of our last day: Great Lakes cookies! Frosted with an image of the Great Lakes contained within a water drop, these specialty cookies truly represented our GLADs and the fun we’ve had while protecting the lakes.

On behalf of our team, thank you, everyone, for your participation and support this season. We look forward to having you in the field next year! The Great Lakes need us!

Reid Bogert, Great Lakes and sustainability team