Hiking the trails of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage’s West Branch recently rewarded West Chicago Environmental Commission member Joe Cavataio and his family with a rare sighting – a bald eagle.
Out on the trail with many other nature enthusiasts, one of whom was a seasoned birdwatcher, the majestic bird was pointed out to the Cavataios.
The moment was significant, as it was the first time Joe had seen an eagle in DuPage County, and enough for him to hurry along with his camera to the other side of the lake to grab a better shot. The eagle remained perched atop a tree branch for at least ten minutes, giving him ample time to snap his photograph and alert other hikers in the area of the iconic bird’s presence. It was a first for them as well.
“That, to me, was more important than getting a good shot. The gasps of children and the ‘aww cool’ sentiments made my day,” said Cavataio.
Cavataio, was appointed to the Commission shortly after relocating to West Chicago from the northwest side of Chicago in 2017. His background in environmental studies led him to pursue the volunteer Commission position with the hope of contributing to the community.
“My family and I love living in West Chicago and we couldn’t be happier where we are. Our home borders West Branch Forest Preserve and I feel like the luckiest guy in the world to finally be so close to nature – it’s long been a dream of mine.”
The abundance of natural beauty in and around West Chicago makes experiences like Cavataio’s frequent occurrences for those who seek them. Over 80% of DuPage County residents live within an eight minute bike ride (one mile) of its regional trail system.
In collaboration with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County and the Division of Transportation, the Geographic Information Systems Division has created a trail mapping application that enables users to actively navigate the trail system. The application provides locations of trails, bikeways, restrooms, parking and much more. Also available is an informational brochure that may be downloaded.