March 2016

City Council Votes to Herbicide Hillcrest Lake

At the regularly scheduled Prospect Heights City Council meeting on February 22nd, the City Council voted 3 for, 1 against and 1 abstain to apply aquatic herbicides to the portion of the wetlands referred to as Hillcrest Lake, to control a seasonal overgrowth of native Elodea. This action was in complete opposition to the recommendations of the Natural Resources Commission.

Spearheaded by Alderman Scott Williamson, the rationale for his surprise motion was based on the concerns of the residents of his ward who live around the lake who wanted to view "clear water" as opposed to the overgrowth for 3 months out of the year. Alderman Larry Rosenthal was the only no vote.

Considered an aesthetic issue and not an ecological one by the Commission, PHNRC expressed its complete and total opposition to herbiciding native overgrowth and spent the better part of the meeting outlining the potential ecological damage that can result.

Commissioner Dana Sievertson, who gave the Commission's presentation, outlined the potential 
ecological and economic issues that could result from such chemical treatments. "Applying aquatic herbicides has the potential to completely change the aquatic habitat. The herbicides used for this purpose are EPA approved when used in compliance with the manufacturer's guidelines. Every expert we reached out to said the real problems with using aquatic herbicides is what happens next."   

"As the native Elodea dies, it turns to nutrient and decreases oxygen levels." he continued. "Something is going to come in and use up that nutrient and take up that space. More than likely it will be algae or worse yet, invasive plants, both of which will absolutely require additional treatments. It's a chemical cycle that will need to be repeated more frequently, year after year. Add to this the worst case scenario of 
possibly of flipping the lake from one dominated by macrophytes, (leafy aquatic plants to one dominated by phytoplankton, (essentially bacteria in the form of algae) and now you really have a big problem not to mention the annual economic burden to the city." 

Commissioned Peter Hahn voiced his concern about the use restrictions of the treated water after application and the potential adverse effects of herbicides in the aquatic environment.

It was the recommendation of the PHNRC to take a more guarded and natural approach to the problem. "Our plan called for Prevention, Wellness and Maintenance," said PHNRC Chairperson Agnes Wojnarski. "We had been working with MWRD and IDNR to gain a permit for a managed weir to raise the water level throughout the wetland. In doing so, it would keep the Elodea submersed, for the aesthetic objections, in addition to the many other benefits while we work to reduce the nutrient loads coming into the tributary. It is a slow and methodical process but without risk to the environment."

It is our understanding that the city has issued requests for proposals to do the work with chemical applications to begin sometime in May. 

Click here to read the PHNRC Recommendation plan. Click here to read the Hey and Associates report.
Commissioners Earn Burn Training

PHNRC Commissioners Dana Sievertson, Peter Hahn and Ed Madden all successfully earned their burn crew certification after completing the Chicago Wilderness burn crew training last February.

Conducted  by recent Nature Speaks presenter John McCabe of the Forest Preserves of Cook County and Jay Johnson of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, the training took place over two days at the Morton Arboretum this year.
"Once a person participates in the extensive training, they realize how much careful planning goes into it," said Commissioner Madden. "Safety is of utmost priority. A burn may be cancelled even after it has started if the conditions change. Every part of prescription burning is thoroughly analyzed and controlled."

The Commissioners took certification in order to be part of the burn crew for the
upcoming prescribed burn that will be taking place at the Slough sometime during the week of March 28th, weather conditions permitting.
Work Days Make Big Progress

With the continued increase of volunteers attending PHNRC work days, the commission 
has been able to make great progress into the continued restoration of a Park District  parcel of land, just to the north of the tennis courts at the Gary Morava center.

Having removed invasive buckthorn from the upper half of the plot and removing massive amounts of accumulated debris, attention has been turned to the invasives in the lower half and establishing the hiking path and seeding native grasses in the upper section.

Conversations with local area residents have been very supportive of the efforts. "This are used to be a place where my kids came to pick berries and play," said one resident. "It became overgrown and kids would go there to party," she continued. "I am very happy to see that you are making it something again"

PHNRC holds 
regularly scheduled work days every 2 weeks. Residents and interested people are always invited to come join in the fun and make a difference. Details are available on the events calendar here or you can click on the link at the bottom to subscribe to the Resources Journal and recieve work day notices via email.

Summer 2015                                                                     Spring 2016
Commission Meets With Tully Park Residents

Residents of the Tully Park area showed up en masse to the newly formatted March NRC board meeting. Appearing in the city council chambers for the first time and being video taped, an estimated 20 plus residents showed up to ask the NRC if they would help them try to procure and assist in the restoration of the area known as Tully Park.

The area in question is a landlocked plot of about 1.3 acres which is currently held and maintained by the Prospect Heights Park District. It had been deemed a expendable by the Park District and residents were conveying it was slated to be given to a local area church.

After listening to several impassioned comments from the residents, the Commission informed residents that PHNRC has no jurisdiction over the property and therefore could not make that decision, referring them to the Park District. The Commission also informed residents that it was the mission of the Natural Resources Commission to preserve and protect the natural resources of Prospect Heights and as such would support the residents in planning and developing a restoration plan if they were successful in gaining control of the park. Park District Executive Director Christina Ferraro was in attendance.
We are very happy to report that after the residents attended the monthly board meeting of the Prospect Heights Park DIstrict the board decided to suspend the dialogue with the church and continue to maintain the park while working with residents to develop a plan for the park. Here is the announcement residents received from Park District Executive Director Christina Ferraro announcing their decision.

"On behalf of the Prospect Height Park Board of Commissioners, I would like to thank the Tully Park neighbors who attended the Park Board meeting last night to express their views and support of Tully Park remaining open space. The Board decided to make no changes to Tully Park. The conversations with the church regarding the acquisition of the space have been suspended. 

The Park’s staff will continue to maintain the space as it has in the past regarding mowing the lawn and trimming the trees. 
Many of the residents who spoke last night mentioned the willingness to assist with maintaining that open space.  The Park’s staff always appreciates help! 

We are open to suggestions on how the time and talents of the friends of Tully Park can be used to benefit that open space.  Who wouldn’t  love to see litter-free, weed-free parks with beautiful flower beds?  Please email me your suggestions if you have any.  The Park’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for residents through maintaining parks and promoting community involvement. This is a perfect occasion to fulfill that mission while providing the friends of Tully Park the opportunity to make suggestions and participate in a project as a group. 

Your sense of community was evident last night through your attendance and comments.
Again, the Park Board of Commissioners and I thank you for attending the meeting and sharing your views.  Your time and service is greatly appreciated. 

We applaud the the Park District Board members and Executive Director Ferraro for such a decisive and timely decision in favor of the 
environment. Linking green space is very important step in providing and expanding wildlife corridors. We look forward to working with the Park District and local residents to redefine this this hidden pocket of essential potential.


Doug Taron Up Next for Nature Speaks

Doug Taron, Curator of Biology and Vice President of Research and Conservation at the Chicago Academy of Sciences' Peggy Notebaert Museum, is the next speaker in the Nature Speaks potent lineup of guest speakers.

As a leading expert on butterflies, his dazzling presentation "Butterflies of the American Prairie", April 19th, 2016, will surely be a spring highlight. Space is limited, admission is free. Registration is necessary and now officially open. Click here to register.  

Mr. Taron manages the 2,700 square-foot Judy Istock Butterfly Haven; oversees management of the Chicago Academy of Sciences’ collections; and heads the institution’s insect conservation biology research.  His presentation will explore the butterfly species of northeastern Illinois, their life cycles, and their ecology, with special emphasis on the relationship between caterpillar food plants and habitat.
Photos courtesy of Doug Taron

Nature Speaks will take place at the Prospect Heights public library in the Borland Meeting Room and starts promptly at 7:00. Complete information about Nature Speaks can be found on our website at

What's New at the Slough?

Residents may have noticed Prospect Heights Public Works staff on the west side of the Slough bringing down dead Ash trees. The crews are assisting PHNRC in getting the burn site ready for the upcoming prescribed burn later this month.

You may 
have also noticed that some of the trees were dropped in the water and may be asking yourself, why did they do that?
Copyright © 2016 Prospect Heights Natural Resources Commission, All rights reserved.

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