June 2016

 Commission Releases Slough Restoration Plan

The PHNRC presented the restoration plan for the Prospect Heights Slough at its regularly scheduled June board meeting. "The goal is to strike a balance between restoration and preservation of the Slough with public access for the enjoyment of the residents," said Commissioner Dana Sievertson. "The plan draws heavily from the problems and issues as outlined in the Hey report (11/02/2016) and the solutions proposed in the PHNRC implementation plan, (02/04/2016)". Both documents may be downloaded or viewed on the commission's website at
The plan calls for replacing 8 acres of turf grass with vegetative buffer zones, mowed walking paths for public access, hiking trails through the woodland area and open spaces for picnicking.

"The plantings at Marion and Hillside are now in their second year and are showing a great deal of maturity," said PHNRC chair Agnes Wojnarski. "The PHNRC rule of thumb is to keep plantings in the view paths of individual homes under 2-3 feet limiting taller plantings to the areas in-between the  homes and blind spots."

Mow paths will be 6 feet in width with strategically placed open areas for resident enjoyment. Just to the south of the plantings at Marion a hiking trail will work its way through the woodland area down to Elmhurst road. Access  points back to Hillside road will spur off from the main path. Their will also be a spur that will cut over to the Isaac Walton park and join up to the west woodland path and continues on to the Maple/Marion junction.

The intention is for every area along the paths and trails of the Slough to be its own unique experience based on the conditions that are present within that given area. "Volunteers have this experience on every work day as the area is so diverse," said commissioner Peter Hahn. "We would like the residents to be able to have the same kind of experience and really be able to connect with nature."

Residents who are interested in talking with PHNRC commissioners at the slough can make a request by sending an email to Commissioners will be glad to meet after work on weekdays or on the weekend to take you on a personally guided tour of the slough, show you all of the great things going on there and discuss any concerns you might have. Click here to view the complete plan.

Summer intern Daniella Sanchez                                              PHNRC Chairperson Agnes Wojnarski

Summer Intern Means Big Progress

Daniella Sanchez joined the PHNRC team in late May as the first ever summer intern. Nothing has been the same ever since. Nicknamed the "Tasmanian Devil" for her veracious appetite to overachieve, the commission could not have been more pleased with her hire.

Daniella was the first intern application we received and the last interview we conducted," said commissioner Peter Hahn. "We hired her on the spot." The summer intern position was funded by an anonymous donation to the commission.

"Daniella is a very unique person in every way," commented PHNRC Chair Agnes Wojnarski. "She is smart, driven to perfection and a very hard worker, but most importantly, a very quick study. We never have to tell her anything twice."

"The quality and sheer volume of work she has accomplished in 6 weeks of residency is amazing," noted commissioner Dana SIevertson. "She has been working with Commissioner Hahn almost every day and they typically match the effort of an entire volunteer work day, every day they are together. Daniella has been a key player in advancing PHNRC Projects this summer."

Through our friendship with the Forest Preserves of Cook County, Daniella was able to partake in FPCC summer intern training which included two days of basic orientation, herbicide testing, (she passed both the operator and the applicator tests and will have her license early July) and basic chain sawing. Her regular schedule starts at 7:00 AM. with an early morning orientation or educational session with chairperson Agnes Wojnarski and a review of the day's projects.

Insights from the Intern

I couldn’t have chosen a better city to work for. I know my summer with Prospect Heights has only begun but I have enjoyed every hour spent with the Natural Resources Commission and every day I become increasingly excited about our projects.

For those of you who aren't familiar with our mission, we want to restore as much natural space into healthy wetlands and prairies not just for the benefit of wildlife and vegetation but for residents too. At the moment the Slough is my pride and joy. Years and lack of proper management have had a toll on the delicate water system. Invasive plant species have taken possession of the land, making it nearly impossible for native plant species to maintain their presence. This doesn’t just affect the visual appearance of the Slough but more importantly, the wildlife that can live there.

Our ultimate goal isn’t to just reintroduce native plants that could have been found at the Slough decades ago, but to make the slough a comfortable habitat for waterfowl, amphibians, fish, butterflies, and countless more animals. Especially white Egrets which can be seen at the Slough, typically in the mornings! If you haven't already seen them, stop by during some spare time, they're beautiful and I promise it’s worth it! I’m also happy to announce the recreational opportunities that are currently underway at the Slough. In our plan, we have included walking pathways conveniently placed to maximize enjoyment of the vegetation, wildlife and water. Additionally, the pathways will allow residents to enjoy the various habitats at the slough, from prairies to woodlands to open areas for picnics, we hope to have a place for everyone to enjoy!

Needless to say its going to be a summer full of weed pulling, tree cutting, dirt and lots of sweat but it’s all worth it when I see how beautifully the slough is coming along. Plus working with great people like Dana, Agnes and Peter isn’t so bad either.

More next month - Daniella Sanchez - PHNRC Summer Intern

Turborain to the Rescue!

"Watering 200 trays of sun loving native plants 2-3 times a day is very time consuming and a real pain," commented summer intern Daniella Sanchez. "The time can be better spent on a lot of other things."  

Turborain is a vital part of a sustainable drip irrigation system that makes collecting and actually using rainwater a viable solution. Turborain is a solar powered rain water pump that connects directly to the rain barrel and pumps the water to microdrip irrigation or in our case, sprayer heads.
Inventor Bill Petersen explained, "The problem with collecting rainwater is how do you use it? First, you have to elevate the rain barrel and make sure the spigot is at the low point of the barrel. Because you have to work off of the bottom, it makes it difficult to get anything under it to collect the water and while you're struggling with that, the mosquitos are hammering you and and you're worrying about getting a hernia lugging that bucket around. That is why I invented Turborain."
The Turborain pump, (shown above) draws water up from the bottom of the tank and pumps it directly to the irrigation lines. Internally, the case houses the pump, controllers and the battery that gets recharged by the solar panel. When connected to drip irrigation, the system waters only the plants you have targeted and not a general area so you only water plants, not weeds. This is a very judicious use of water so even if you run out of rain water, you can fill it with well or city water and yous way less that you would ever use doing it with a hose.

PHNRC is using the Turborain in conjunction with 360° rotating spray heads to saturate the hundreds of native plug trays. "Instead of standing out there for hours fighting mosquitoes, to water the plants," said Commissioner Dana Sievertson, "I simply walk over ands turn on the manual timer for 20 minutes and walk away. We have it connected to a 300 gallon tank that collects the entire south plane of the roof. Once we understand how long we need to run the system to water the trays sufficiently, we will program the automatic timer to it all happens on a schedule and all we need to do is verify we have water. 
Turborain now also incorporates led landscape lighting using the same principals under the Turboglow name. Turborain and Turboglow are both in use at the PHNRC site at 7 Hillside. Residents who are interested in learning more about Turborain or coming by to see they system in use should send us an email to to arrange a viewing. Evenings and weekends work best. For more information about Turborain, click here to view the website. 

What's new at the Slough?

Native Michigan Lilies in full bloom.
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