See where the bison roam at Midewin in September's 'Buzz' episode
September’s “Buzz” nature show is the second part of a two-part episode that explores the bison and restored prairie fields of Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. To get close-up footage of the bison, "Buzz" staff were able to film from inside a vehicle surrounded by the creatures.
The episode debuts at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, on the Forest Preserve District’s Facebook and YouTube pages. The show also can be viewed at 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29, on WJYS-TV, courtesy of funding from The Nature Foundation of Will County. Additionally, the monthly show airs on local cable stations in Joliet, Naperville, New Lenox, Romeoville and Tinley Park.
If you missed part one of the Midewin show in August, you can still catch the episode on YouTube.
“In August’s episode, we covered the history of Midewin from the early days with Native Americans and farmsteads to the site's past use as an arsenal with ammunition bunkers,” said program host Suzy Lyttle, who is a Forest Preserve program coordinator. “We also told the story of the tallgrass prairie and how it’s unique with its long list of flowers and birds.”
For the September show, Lyttle said viewers will learn about all the work that went into creating Midewin's acres of blooming prairie.
“The restoration projects at Midewin have many partners and hardworking volunteers,” she said. “We will meet Allison Cisneros, Midewin project manager for The Nature Conservancy, who has been very involved seeing the land go from bunkers and industry to biodiversity. We will also take a trip to the seedbeds to see where the magic begins and learn where the seeds go.”
The episode will conclude with information on Midewin’s bison, which were introduced to help restore the prairie through their grazing habits.
“The bison have been a big attraction for visitors, and we learn why they were introduced, how they affect the land, and where they can roam,” Lyttle said. “I was so excited to be able to touch a sample of bison hair. It was nothing I was expecting. I thought it was going to be thick and coarse, but it was so soft and fluffy.”
Because the bison roam a massive area, it took some planning to get up close to the huge creatures, said Chad Merda, the Forest Preserve's digital communications manager.
"Thanks to some coordination with Midewin staff, we were allowed inside the bison pasture to get some very cool footage of these animals," Merda said. "For our safety, we were only allowed to film from inside a vehicle."
When the bison saw the Midewin vehicle, they entire herd came running at it through the tallgrass prairie, Merda added.
"It was quite an amazing scene," he said. "At one point the vehicle was pretty much surrounded by these behemoths, but we also filmed some of the little ones born in the spring."
Merda said he learned a fun fact about the bison during the "Buzz" outing.
"They will use the front of a vehicle as a scratching post," he said. "And they sure had the heavy-duty vehicle rocking."
Lyttle said she hopes everyone will take some time to visit Midewin this fall.
“With the goldenrods and asters in bloom, the prairie is showing so much color," she said. "Plus, you never know, you may be lucky enough to have a bison story of your own!”