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IL Press: LITH boy wins award for effort to save turtles


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Posted by W von Papinešu on March 31, 2003 at 20:23:07:

NORTHWEST HERALD (Crystal Lake, Illinois) 27 March 03 LITH boy wins award for effort to save Blanding's turtles (Nick Bunkley)
Henry Cilley just wanted to save some turtles.
He still does not fully understand why his picture appeared in three area newspapers after he gathered 1,000 signatures on a petition and presented it to Lake in the Hills village officials.
And he is even less sure why now he is getting statewide recognition for a crusade that started when his teacher at Glacier Ridge Elementary School brought an article to class about 75 endangered Blanding's turtles. The turtles' habitat was threatened by a new Walgreens store at Algonquin and Lakewood roads.
"I don't like when anything dies," the 10-year-old said between bites of an Oreo at his family's kitchen table.
"I have to kill spiders sometimes because my mom makes me," he said.
Cilley has been named youth conservationist of the year by the Illinois Audubon Society. He is the first recipient of the award in three years, and one of the youngest ever to win such an honor, society President David Miller said.
"Here's a young man who recognized that there is a value to these creatures and the area that those creatures occupy," Miller said. "It's really quite heartening when a young man comes along like that at such an early age."
Cilley was nominated for the award by John Nelson, northeastern Illinois threats coordinator for the Illinois Nature Preserve Commission. The commission also will present Cilley with a certificate of appreciation.
He will receive both awards during a ceremony next month at Exner Marsh, the site he campaigned to protect. In addition, his family has been invited to attend the Audubon Society's annual dinner in May.
"We're glad that he's able to draw some awareness to the issue and help out," said Cilley's father, Ed. "Hopefully, it will help the turtles."
The McHenry County Conservation District already has begun building six artificial nesting sites around the marsh, where about 75 Blanding's turtles live. Par Development, which is planning to build the Walgreens, recently hauled in nearly a dozen trucks full of sand to build the nesting sites.
"Our strategy is to encircle the entire marsh with these nests, so if a turtle goes any direction, it has the opportunity to find one," Nelson said. "We're hoping that they stumble across one of these artificial nesting sites rather than venturing out across one of the nearby roads, where bad things happen."
Later this spring, Cilley will turn his attention from turtles to frogs when he begins another project in Lake in the Hills.
He will monitor frogs at the Lake in the Hills Fen nature preserve by learning the sounds they make and tape-recording their noises. The tapes will provide the first record of what species live in the fen.
"Each breed of frog makes a totally different sound," said fen steward Al Wilson, who chose Cilley for the job. "Nobody's done any monitoring out there."



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