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June 2015

Every Backyard Counts!
Landscaping for Wildlife.


Restoration Ecologist, Izabella Redlinski will give her presentation "Every Backyard Counts! Landscaping for Wildlife" on Thursday, June 18, 7:00 pm at the Prospect Heights Public Library. Izabella has worked with wetlands and prairies for over five years in order to restore native ecosystems. Learn how you can play a most vital role in helping make your backyard a sanctuary for wildlife. Iza brings her joy and knowledge of native plants to a smaller yet ever so important backyard scale and teaches us how we can make our own backyards attractive to birds and butterflies. Take home one of several free native plants if you win our raffle. This program is co-sponsored by the Prospect Heights Public Library and the Prospect Heights Natural Resources Commission.

Click here to register

PHNRC Slough Progress Report


A lot of progress has been made in the Prospect Heights slough area in just a year. One only has to look at the before and after photos to realize that. Even local residents may have difficulty remembering what it used to look like just a few short months ago. 
While clearly, there is much more to be done, it is good to take a step back after a long winter and almost nonexistent spring to pause and see what we have accomplished. 

Few may remember how completely impenetrable the wall of buckthorn was that surrounded most of the land in-between the street and the water. Today 90% of the buckthorn mass has been removed and in it's place, the native seed bank has already started to announce itself. We have seen the ascension of Wild Geraniums, Michigan Lillies, Meadow Rue, Wild Onion, Trillium, Starry False Solomon's Seal, Lake Sedge, River Bulrush, a lot of different sedges, Knotweeds, Elderberry bushes, Gooseberry, Monkey Flower, Vervain, Prairie Rose, Nodding Bulrush, Nodding Bur Marigold and many more yet to be identified, all native plants embedded in the seed bed and held hostage by an army of buckthorn. "Now that there is light, water and air, these plants can reassert themselves with the favorable conditions," Said PHNRC Commissioner Marcia Jendreas. "The entire woodland carpet is alive with activity that has not been seen in a very long time. A large percentage of it is still invasives that still must be managed, like Garlic Mustard and Buckthorn regrowth but as we remove these things, more natives will begin to take their place," added Jendreas.
"We also spread native seeds collected from our local remnant prairie early winter last and were very excited to see masses of native Swamp Milkweed come up as a result. Recently we just  completed the planting of some 4,000 plugs representing 87 different species of native plants," said commissioner Agnes Wojnarski. "We have had an amazing turnout of volunteers in addition to purchasing "Heinrich the Auger" and that has enabled us to accomplish this very large task.  There are 5 planting sites along the north east side of the slough that run parallel to Hillside Avenue at Marion in addition the random plantings we placed in the woodland area just southwest of the shore sites."
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges has been the shoreline plantings. The slough has a massive Carp problem that must be dealt with in the very near future but in the near term, a Carp fence was constructed in order to protect the native aquatic plantings.

"It was very interesting to watch," said Dana Sievertson, PHNRC Commissioner. "Within a week, we began to see aquatic plants start to emerge with the biggest surprise being the Arrowheads." I have never seen them at the slough as long as I have been here", he added.
Soon, we will be adding interactive maps of the plantings to the website so residents can click on the plant cell and see what has been planted but for now, the attention turns back to managing the invasives and continuing the plug planting in the slough and the restoration prairie. The slough certainly looks different now than last summer but just wait until fall, the show will certainly be fantastic.

Volunteering


The Prospect Heights Natural Resources Commission is an all volunteer organization. Volunteers make us go. Volunteering is easy, fun and the right thing to do. It is a great investment in your community and the natural environment that surrounds us. There is nothing better than being outside in the elements surrounded by nature, teaming with wildlife and making new friendships.

Winter is a roaring buckthorn fire and a bright mix of snowflakes and buckthorn ash that swirl around your head with the promise of a roasted Kielbasa when we finish. Spring is filled with optimism as the birds begin their migrations north and new native plants make their way out of the decades old seed bed, long suppressed by buckthorn invasion. Spring is also for frogs that sing to you as we plant native plugs and manage garlic mustard. Summer brings the heat, wide open blue skies and the opportunity to sweat off a few pounds with your friends while doing good for the environment. In Autumn we admire the walls of ambient color, crisp cool air watch the migrators take a respite before heading south. Seed collection is the major task followed by processing them and get them ready for sowing in early winter.

We welcome all persons interested in participating in projects essential to the survival and wellbeing of our natural resources and returning our local environment back to it's original splendor.

Volunteer Work Days are every other Sunday, year round from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm.  Information about our work days is on our website at phnrc.com and by signing up for our monthly Resources Journal, you  will receive regular email announcements about the upcoming work days and the activities planned for that day.  We provide water, instructions, education, tools, comradery and the great sense of making a difference in your community.

Please join us, we need YOU!

Saving Turtles


All around the Prospect Heights slough, its egg laying time and for our resident turtles and that can mean a 1/4 mile hike up from the safety of the slough waters, across Hillside Avenue and then up a steep hill that is someone's front lawn. Being a turtle out in nature is not an easy task. 

If you can manage that trip without getting squashed or attacked by a predator, you lay your eggs and make the return trip and hope that you were as lucky getting back as you were coming over. As for the eggs, they are on their own. Chances are, Raccoons, Skunks, Opossums or some other predator visits later that night and has a fine meal. Supposing they somehow manage to hatch, the little guys now have to make the same 1/4 mile trip back to the slough without getting squashed or eaten. It's almost an impossible
task and one we as humans can certainly help with and in the process, increase dwindling turtle populations in the slough.

Here are some easy steps you can take that will help give the turtles a fighting chance.
 
1. On an early morning dog walk a while ago, we realized about 6 of the little guys never made it across the Hillside. If you are driving on one of the roads that are closest to the slough, keep an eye out for turtles making a crossing. The babys are no more than 2 inches in diameter and harder to spot than a mom. Its a safe bet that if you see several dark, 2 inch dots moving very slowly on the pavement, it's a batch of baby turtles. Please don't run them over. Stop, put on your flashers and enjoy the miracle. Alerting other drivers will also help avoid catastrophe. Same goes for the mom.

2. If you see a mom laying eggs, take a break, go watch this amazing feat of nature. She will be done in less than 1 hour and need an escort to make safe passage back across the street. Slowly and quietly walk behind her making sure she get back across the road. Stop traffic if necessary.

3. Take 15 minutes and build a turtle egg enclosure so the eggs are safe from hungry predators. As many as 80% of turtle nests can be lost to predators who may find and destroy nests at any point during the egg’s development. Most destruction occurs within 5 days after the eggs are laid, and especially during the first 48 hours so this is something you want to do right away. As time passes, there is less scent associated with the nest, and it is more difficult for predators to locate the nest.You need just a few items to give a whole lot of baby turtles a chance at survival and increasing the native population. Complete, simple instructions for a 15 minute nest enclosure can be found here. Be sure to record the egg laying date. It takes about 3 months for the eggs to hatch.

4. As you get closer to the due date, monitor the nest everyday for signs of activity. At the point the you see activity (late August to early September) you can lift the side walls of the enclosure and keep an eye on them as they make their way back to the slough or, collect them all and take them their safely yourself. That way they has a great chance of survival and for sure the population will increase. Personally, we find it easy to resist the temptation to keep onas a pet, the way we see it is they belong in the wild.

Finally, do not worry if you never see signs of life. Turtles have been known to decide to just stay in the nest and hibernate through the winter, making the trip in early spring.
Copyright © 2015 Prospect Heights Natural Resources Commission, All rights reserved.


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