July 2017
Dr. Wojnarski receives the Force of Nature Award - photo courtesy of Dr. Wieslaw Wojnarski

Agnes Wojnarski:Force of Nature

On July 27, 2017, PHNRC's Dr. Agnes Wojnarski received the prestigious Force of Nature Award from Chicago Wilderness in recognition of her work with the PHNRC in Prospect Heights and as a "Tireless Advocate for Nature". As a co-founder of the Natural Resources Commission and Chairperson, Agnes has guided the organization to accomplish amazing things including two ComEd/Openlands grants, establishing a 5 acre prairie, a wetland restoration, creating an interactive nature preserve for children, community outreach and education programs, a greenhouse program and several residential naturalizations.

In her acceptance speech, Dr. Wojnarski said, "
I pinch myself every day when I think about everything that our commission has accomplished in the last three and a half years. I had a vision for the natural areas in Prospect Heights, but having a vision and actually making it happen are two completely different things. One important thing that I have learned is that everything that I have accomplished for nature and for our community is because of and thanks to, others. I am so thankful and grateful to our commissioners and volunteers who do so much and who without, none of this would be possible."

She went on to further explain how vision became reality citing the donation of one of our summer intern positions from a dedicated volunteer and the Park District adding a second one this year. She highlighted the outstanding commitment and support from the Mayor and the City Council, the Park District and Public Library. She concluded by thanking ComEd/Openlands for providing funding for our projects, the Morton Arboretum for the educational opportunities, her parents and Commission Sievertson for their support.

"This recognition of Agnes is outstanding," commented Commissioner Ed Madden. "If you have had the pleasure to work with and know Agnes, you fully understand that she truly is a Force of Nature. Her commitment, he knowledge and generosity are unparalleled and it is really nice to see the restoration community acknowledge that."

Held at the Chicago Botanical Gardens, the ceremony went on to present Platinum Excellence in Restoration Accreditations to our good friends the Poplar Creek Stewards, the Grant Creek Prairie, MacArthur Woods, Lake in the Hills Fen and a gold accreditation to the Lockport Prairie East. It ended with the 9 other Force of Nature awards being presented to Amaris Alanis-Ribeiro, Bill Glass, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, Faith in Place, Friends of the Chicago River, Elgin High School, ArcelorMittal Research and Development Center, Village of Green Oaks Stewards and the Forest Preserve District of Dupage County. (Click here to see the project listings) 

Congratulation to all the of the recipients. You are all truly Forces of Nature that are really making a difference to the world we live in.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Wieslaw Wojnarski

Dr. Derby Lewis Speaks and Nature Listens

Senior Conservation Ecologist and Program Director for the Chicago Region at the Field Museum of Natural History, Dr. Abigail Derby Lewis was the latest speaker in the Nature Speaks program and she did not disappoint. One of the most engaging and natural of all of the Nature Speaks presenters, the good Doctor was charming, funny, engaging, articulate, succinct and deadly serious.

Dr. Derby Lewis's impassioned presentation, “Building Resilient Communities in a Changing Climate: Why urban nature (really) matters", looked at how the changing climate is affecting people and nature in the Greater Chicago Region and what actions can and are being taken on a national, regional, state and local level to reduce the impact and communities become resilient the changes now and in the future. 

After a quick and haunting review of the changes we are already seeing, she briefly discussed the the potential for what is coming. Chicago for instance has already moved up one full zone in the planting guides from 5B to 6A in just the past two decades. In practical terms, that means some plants you have grown up with will not do well here any more, nor will some of the birds and insects that have depended on them. Conversely, more southern species are migrating further north. That in and of itself is very sobering. 

Looking closer,
she examined some of the direct and indirect effects climate change may have on both nature and people. Changes in temperature and the amount and seasonality of precipitation will directly affect the behavior and physiology of different species, while indirect effects include how shifts in species' ranges, changes in the timing to annual life cycle events, and the distribution and abundance of disease vectors may interact. For example, the timing of when leaves and insects emerge in the Spring is being slowly decoupled from the arrival of migratory birds that depend on that food resource. Most at risk are the species with limited dispersal, specialized habitat, species located in the edges of the range a`nd those with narrow ecological tolerances.

Looking at the direct impact on people globally, heat related diseases are of major concern while the indirect effects include flooding, food shortages, water crisis, electrical shortages and the costs to cities which could talley in the billions as they experience climate refugee influx. 

So what are we doing, what is being done? Dr. Derby Lewis described efforts the museum and partner organizations are doing on a regional scale to help reduce climate impacts. They work with natural resource managers and municipalities to co-develop climate-informed adaptation strategies aimed at improving the overall biological health and resiliency of urban systems. For example, investing in the selection of urban trees that have high adaptive capacity for expected shifts in regional climate change and provide critical services such as stormwater mitigation and habitat for wildlife.  As species are adapting to urban environments it is even more important to understand how critical the urban environment really is, which means what you do locally, and in turn collectively as a whole, really matters.

The message was clear.
Nature needs cities and we must adapt if we want to maintain a quality of life for people and for nature. Monitoring the changes is key to staying out in front of the changes and advocating change and habitat augmentation.

The evening ended with the capacity crowd asking pertinent and timely questions. At the end of the day, It was Dr. Derby Lewis's knowledgeable insight that led to her unsinkable optimism. 

PHNRC Joins 4TH of July Parade

The Prospect Heights Natural Resources Commission participated in its first ever 4th of July parade.  Utilized Commissioner Dr. John Kamysz's  iconic/premo 1965 Volkswagen Bus as the focal point of the presentation. 
Commissioners and PHNRC Volunteers walked next to the “float” and distributed candy and gum along with an informational postcard describing our mission, current projects, the Nature Speaks Library Program, how to volunteer and how to contact the NRC.  "Our participation in the City’s parade provided us with visibility and the opportunity to increase awareness of the good we want to do for our town," said Commissioner Jill Moskal. "We greatly appreciated the opportunity and the invite from the city to be a part of such a festive occasion and the celebration of the birth of our nation. We are looking to a bigger and better 4th next year," she concluded.

PHNRC Commissioners Visit Poplar Creek Stewards Work Day

July saw Commissioners from PHNRC visit the Poplar Creek Stewards work day to return labor favors. The mission was pure and simple, plant out the trays of carex stricta we had propagated in the spring in a remote wetland area of the Poplar Creek site. Making the trip with the commissioners was Cedric the auger. "Cedric is what makes it all possible to do these mass plantings from our greenhouse program," commented Commissioner Dana Sievertson. "It is not uncommon for us to plant out 1600 plants on a good workday with our volunteers but this was slightly different given the terrain and the scattered placement."

"The original plan was for the stewards to plant them by hand which would have taken and entire work day with the five volunteers," said Commissioner Agnes Wojnarski. "Using Cedric makes this painless."

"Holy Shi_!" exclaimed Poplar Creek Steward Marge Trahan. "That was really fast!!!!" "We really appreciate the help today from the NRC," said Steward John Navin. Working together is what it is all about.

Nature Speaks

PHNRC Commissioners                                                    Rachel Gode                                                                    
Stephen Packard                                                               Allison Sacerdote-Valet                                                                  
                      Gerould Wilhelm
Future Nature Speaks guest speakers: 

PHNRC Commissioners, Dr. Agnes Wojnarski, Dana Sievertson, Jill Moskal, Dr. John Kamysz and Ed Madden will present, Slough 101: The history and the Restoration. September 19th, 2017. The Commissioners will take an in-depth look back at the history of the slough, the ongoing restoration and the long term plan for restoring this Prospect Heights Treasure.

Rachel Goad, Manager of Plants of Concern at the Chicago Botanic Garden will be discussing Citizen Science: It's importance and how you can participate on November 30th, 2017. Click here for more information.  

Stephen Packard, Stephen Packard will be presenting "Rare Animals. Rare Plants. Rare People. Adventures in Chicagoland Conservation " on January 23, 2018. Click here to learn more about his Nature Speaks talk. Mr. Packard recently gave a TED talk. Click here to watch. 

Allison Sacerdote-Velat will be joining us on April 19th 2018 and be presenting her very important research on green snakes.

Dr. Gerould Wilhelm, the legendary icon of Chicagoland restoration, will be presenting, "Consilience, Concinnity, and the Way" on June 28th, 2018. Click here for more information.

Didier Nolet - Terre Marecageuse

French landscape Didier Nolet will be presenting his recent works entitled "Terre Marecageuse", The Wetlands, a series of paintings and oil pastels based on the Prospect Heights Slough. The show opens September 1st and runs through September 30th with a reception and talk given by the artist on September 7th from 6:30 - 8:30 pm. The show is part of the Public Library's 40th anniversary month long celebration.

What's New at the Sites

Tall American bell flower at the Morava Nature Preserve and everywhere actually
Heron Pond restoration in progress
Silene regia at the Slough - photo courtesy of intern Aaron Phalin 
Lobelia cardinalis at the Slough
Copyright © 2017 Prospect Heights Natural Resources Commission, All rights reserved.

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