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June 2021
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Progress Continues at Pollinator Park

Shoreline restoration after 1 year at Pollinator Park
Pollinator Park is starting it's second year of progress and things are taking shape. The project was funded by a ComEd/Openlands Green Regions Grant in 2020, and matching funding from the City of Prospect Heights and a generous anonymous donor. The grant makes it possible to create a pollinator habitat at an area known as Hillcrest Lake, a degraded expanse of mowed turf grass that formed a large buffer between the road and the lake. It had no ecological or recreational value and suffers from localized flooding and shoreline erosion. The grant was the third ComEd/Green Regions Grant received by the PHNRC and the City.

The project will solve those issues by replacing the turf grass with native rich riparian buffers that will incorporate some 80 plus species of native plants to arrest and stabilize the chronic shoreline erosion, filter and retain surface runoff and create a premium insect and bird habitat. The area will also become a resident and educational attraction through a system of nature trails and interpretive signage.
Shoreline erosion 1 year ago at Pollinator Park
Volunteers installing the plantings at the shoreline restoration
Sample seeding and planting map from sector 408
Bombus auricomus - Black and gold bumble bee.

Late June Rains Impact the Nature Trails at the Prospect Heights Slough.

 After a month and a half of extreme drought, the natural areas have been inundated
with over 6" of rain in the dying days of June. "This is the kind of thing that brings out the local kayaks and canoes but it turns parts of the nature trails into rivers until the water recedes," said Commissioner Dana Sievertson. "While this is not a record 100 year event, it is enough water to underscore the problems of access, erosion and plant mortality," he continued. "With climate change and increased residential and commercial property being developed, we have seen more water, stay longer and it is affecting the hydrology and the habitat in the process."
The boardwalk starts here. One of the areas slated for boardwalk sections.
The Park District of Prospect Heights and the NRC have applied for a ComEd/Openlands Green Regions grant to construct 450 liner feet of boardwalk at the Slough to help restore access to some of the most impassable sections of the trail. The grant would also look to create a pollinator rich habitat by reclaiming and restoring the surrounding areas back from the invasive cattails while adding informational signage to further increase the recreational and educational value of the Slough. Grant announcements are expected in early to mid-July.

"Because of the drought," added Chairperson Agnes Wojnarski, "We are seeing trends. At the ComEd prairie for instance, everything is shorter because of the lack of rain, but surviving the drought because of the maturity of the plants and the deep root systems. We have also seen some plants like butterfly weed go crazy because it likes it high and dry. All we can do is watch, collect data, draw conclusions and act accordingly."
Pollinator on Butterfly weed.

They're Back!

Every year since the restoration work began at the Slough, we have seen a marked increase of turtles coming up to the surrounding yards to lay their eggs. This year is no different.  "We are seeing increased numbers of egg layers," said Commissioner Dana Sievertson. "We are also getting calls for help relocating turtles and people going out of their way to assist them in safe crossings".  "About two weeks ago, our mailman drove his truck into a diagonal direction, appearing to block off the street," said one resident. "He then got out of the truck and lifted a sizable turtle out of the street and moved it back into a safe passage to the Slough"

If you live in close proximity to the Slough, be on the lookout for turtles laying eggs. It is an amazing thing to watch. In June of 2015, we ran an article in the Resources Journal about how you can help out and increase the odds for the babies and the moms crossing the street.  Here is a link to that article which includes a tutorial on how to build a turtle egg enclosure. Click Here 

Here is the direct link to the protective enclosure you can build 

NRC and Park District Announce Bird Walk Dates

The PHNRC and the Park District are pleased to announce the dates of the fall Slough bird walks. Those dates are September 25th and October 9th so mark your calendars! The walks will once again be led by our favorite Birder, Mary Lou Mellon, starting her 7th season with the program. The walks are free of charge but you will need to register. Details will be announced soon.
Photo courtesy of David Ludwin

Seth Explains the Name. Actually it's a Word this Time!!

Agalinis tenuifolia - Slender False Foxglove. Photo courtesy of Dr, John Hilty

Common name: Leaf
Scientific name: Foli

Notice in the list below that the second word of each plant name - the specific epithet ends with the word foli or related words  - folium, foliatum, folia.

Erygium yuccifolium (rattlesnakre master)  the leaves look similar to yucca plant leaves

Eupatorium perfoliatum  (Common boneset)  ‘per’ is Latin for ‘through’.  The stem of this plant appears to grow through the leaves

Euthamia graminofolia  (grass-leafed goldenrod)  ‘gram’ is Latin for ‘grass’  

Parthenium integrifolium (Wild quinine)  ‘intregi’ is Latin for ‘entire’ or ‘complete’ meaning that the leaves are undividied

Verbesina alternifolia  ‘alternus’ is Latin for alternate referring to the ways the leaves are arranged on the stem.

 Agalinis tenuifolia (Slender False Foxglove)  ‘tenu’ is Latin for thin or slender

Campanula rotundifolia (Harebell)  ’rotund’ is Latin for round

Sisyrinchium angustifoilum (Stout Blue-eyed Grass)  ‘angust’ is Latin for narrow

Desmodium sessifolium (Sessile-leaved Tick Trefoil)  ‘sessile’ meaning attached directly by its base without a stalk.

Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium (Sweet Everlasting)  ‘obtus’ is Latin for dull or blunt

Symphyotrichum oblongifolium (Aromatic Aster)   

Sagittaria latifolia  (broadleaf arrowhwad)  ‘lati’ is Latin for broad or wide

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (virginia creeper)  ‘quinque’ is Latin for five  - because each leaf is composed of 5 leaflets.

Nature Speaks - Dr. Allison Sacerdote-Velat

"Direct Effects of an Invasive buckthorn on Amphibian Embryo Survival and Development"

September 23rd 2021 - Allison Sacerdote-Valet
7:00-8:30 PM - "Direct Effects of an Invasive buckthorn Metabolite on Amphibian Embryo Survival and Development"
 a Zoom presentation.

Please join us as we zoom in and welcome back Allison Sacerdote-Valet, Curator of Herpetology at Chicago Academy of Sciences/Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum as she gives her presentation, "Direct Effects of an Invasive buckthorn Metabolite on Amphibian Embryo Survival and Development"

Most  people know Dr. Sacerdote-Velat as one of the leading authorities on Green Snakes but did you know she is one of the foremost authorities on buckthorn? Please join us for this most informative talk on Prospect Height's public enemy # 1, buckthorn! Dr. Sacerdote-Velat will tell you just how bad this guy is and why we all want to remove it! 

European buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), exhibits aggressive growth in amphibian breeding sites and releases the secondary metabolite, emodin, into soil and water. Emodin is known to have several deleterious, bioactive properties in mammals and birds, but its effects on amphibians had not been previously assessed. 

Click here to learn more
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