Afternoon Shift: Restoring the Prairie State

Afternoon Shift: Restoring the Prairie State

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Restoring the Prairie State

We know Illinois as the Prairie State, but that moniker is a bit out of date. According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Illinois was once covered by 22 million acres of prairie. Now that number has dwindled to a mere 2500 acres. For decades, preservation groups have been restoring prairies across the state, including in local forest preserves where they’ve cut down trees and brought back native grasslands. The process is not without controversy. Some activists don’t agree with the removal of healthy trees and question the need for prairie restoration in the Chicago area.

We’re joined by Kayri Havens, the senior director of ecology and conservation at the Chicago Botanic Garden and Bill Glass, an ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service stationed at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Wilmington, Illinois. Plus, Petra Blix an environmental activist from Trees for Life and the Urban Environmental Alliance joins us in studio.


  • Kayri Havens is the senior director of ecology and conservation at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
  • Bill Glass is an ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service stationed at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Wilmington, IL.
  • Petra Blix is an environmental activist involved with Trees for Life and the Urban Environmental Alliance.

Chef Doug Sohn talks life after Hot Doug’s

Hot Doug’s may have closed but owner Doug Sohn has far from retired. This Saturday is Hot Doug’s Day at Paulina Meat Market. Plus Doug is the headlining act at a new food fest this summer. Doug Sohn joins us in studio to talk about life after Hot Doug’s.

Guest: Doug Sohn is a chef and the former owner of Hot Doug’s.

Univision launches two-part series about Hispanic Muslims

Starting tonight, Univision Chicago is launching a two-part series about Hispanic Muslims. The first part focuses on one woman’s decision to convert to Islam, and what it meant for her and her family. The series takes an in-depth look at common misperceptions of Muslims and the nature of Islam. Jazmin Beltran is the reporter behind the piece and she joins us in studio.

Guest: Jazmin Beltran is a news reporter at Univision Chicago.

Wrigley Field reveals new bleachers at tonight’s game

The Cavaliers tied the series last night against the Bulls with a game-winning shot at the buzzer from Lebron James, and the Blackhawks are set to face the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference finals. Plus, Wrigley Field is scheduled to open the Left and Center field bleachers for tonight’s game against the New York Mets. WBEZ sports contributor, Cheryl Raye-Stout, joins us from the field.

Guest: Cheryl Raye-Stout is WBEZ’s sports contributor.

Breaking down the numbers of NFL “Draft Town.”

The NFL Draft came to Chicago for three days last week, bringing 200,000 people. Crain’s Chicago Business reporter, Danny Ecker, broke down the numbers on “Draft Town.” He gives us the numbers and looks at the Draft’s economic impact on the city.

Guest: Danny Ecker is a Crain’s Chicago Business reporter who covers sports business.

Tech Shift: What Evanston is learning a month after launching its open data portal

Chicago has gotten a lot of attention for its open data efforts, but cities around the region are also getting into the space. Evanston launched its open data portal in February and is starting to see how citizens are using the information and where to go next. Luke Stowe, Digital Services Coordinator for the city of Evanston, joins us with more.

Guest: Luke Stowe is the digital services coordinator for the City of Evanston.

Little Bison on the Prairie

It’s been 200 years since a baby bison was born to free-roaming herd anywhere east of the Mississippi River. Now a wildlands preserve in Chicago’s northwest suburbs has eleven new bison.  And more on the way.  The wildlife conservationists who brought the herd to Illinois six months ago are thrilled, but it’s not for the reason you’d think. WBEZ’s Greta Johnsen reports.

Guest: Greta Johnsen is a weekend anchor and reporter for WBEZ.

More roadblocks in the ongoing Chicago casino debate

It’s become a tradition in recent years for our elected officials to talk about building a casino in Chicago. Today in Springfield lawmakers convened for the second time this month to consider the economics of creating expanded gambling operations in Illinois. Mounting financial pressure and a new Governor are just a couple of new wrinkles in the ongoing casino debate. William Spain is a Chicago-based correspondent for USA Today who has been covering these issues for CBS Marketwatch and the Wall Street Journal, and he joins our conversation.

Guest: William Spain is a Chicago-based correspondent for USA TODAY.

Pension ruling may impact Chicago’s fire and police contract negotiations

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled Friday, May 8 that the state’s 2013 pension law is unconstitutional, and the decision could have serious ramifications for Mayor Rahm Emanuel on multiple fronts. The city is facing a $550 million jump in payments to fire and police pension funds at the end of the year. Pat Camden, spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police Union Local 7, joins us on the line with details.

Guest: Pat Camden is the spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police Union Local 7.