August 2022
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Shoreline Restoration in Full Swing 

Calm before the storm, this years sections of shoreline restoration, anchored by the Solstice Garden
Late July saw the startup of this years segment of shoreline restoration at Hillcrest Lake. The 6 year project was approved and funded in 2021, by the Prospect Heights City Council with the purpose being to restore the areas of severe erosion surrounding Hillcrest Lake. "Every year, we will be processing a different portion of the shoreline based on the amount of erosion. This year's undertaking is the largest section of the project and the most eroded," said Commissioner Dana Sievertson. "It has been quite the effort and we have leaned heavily on our Volunteers and Commissioners. The support from the residents has been AMAZING. Lunches, breakfasts, snacks, water, you name it and it somehow has just appeared. Every passerby has had kind words and encouragement, it is a really great feeling to know this work is so valued and appreciated by the community."

The plan calls for continued planting and seeding of native plants from the greenhouse program throughout the August and September workdays. In preparation for this project, the commission has produced over 40,000 native plugs, a good portion of which is to be planted in this restoration.
South end of the erosion
The project is split into a north and south section, interrupted by an invasive Siberian elm, scheduled to come down this winter. Parts of the shoreline had deep undercuts that required a large amount of fill work before the Coirlogs could be secured. 
North end of the erosion
Chainsaw Louis reshaping the slope of the shoreline
The crew sets another erosion blanket in place
Planting the south section
When all is said and done, some 8,000 native plugs and over 400 volunteer hours will have been incorporated into the effort. The aquatic plants will arrive and be placed in the spring of next year. 
Commissioner Jill Moskal planting warrior sedges 
The final phase of this year's effort is to finish the upper prairie planting that will act as a riparian buffer while adding a stiff backbone of deeply rooted plants to fortify the aquatic and semi aquatic layers that make up the new grade down to the water. The buffer will define one side of the nature trail, increase pollinator habitat, sequester more carbon and enhance the aesthetic value of the park for visitors. "Once that work is done, all that is left to do is water, water, water until winter," said Commissioner Wojnarski. The next planting is scheduled for the first Sunday in September.

PHNRC Summer Interns 2022

PHNRC Summer Interns 2022. Evie Sanchez and Eric Rivas
The PHNRC intern program has just completed its 7th season. Every year the applicants make the decision for the NRC a hard one as they all seem to be so qualified. This year was a little different as we knew from the first interview who we wanted. Evie Sanchez and Eric Rivas were the two candidates who jumped out ahead of the field and were awarded the 2022 summer internship. "What struck all of us was not only their intellect, but the sheer hunger and passion for the positions," said Commissioner Dana Sievertson. "Evie was shy and a bit reserved but had all the right answers, attitude and drive. Eric exuded confidence and experience and took command of the interview process. We knew from 10 seconds in, that Eric was our intern and that he would be the perfect match to work with Evie".

Eric was scheduled to take a summer class and decided to skip the class and go all in on the internship. "I had told Eric that it was our opinion that he would learn way more here than in a summer college course, something that Eric did confirm on the last day. Evie on the other hand, lives in the Little Village neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, meaning 2-3 hours of round trip travel everyday. She never missed a day and was ALWAYS early."
Evie Sanchez and Eric Rivas at Nachusa on their last day - Photo courtesy of Seth Marcus
As is the tradition, interns are asked for a parting statement, Evie had this to say.

"They say patience is a prairie word and I have come to know it to be true throughout the past summer. Being a PHNRC intern not only taught me about plant identification, practices of restoration work, and fieldwork, but it left me with a sense of satisfaction in what Eric and I accomplished over the past weeks. While it may not seem like a difference in the eyes of others, bear in mind good things take time. As a result, I have come to meet and work with generous and dedicated people including three commissioners—Commissioners Agnes Wojnarski, Dana Sievertson, and Seth Marcus—who have worked to support the restoration and conservation of natural areas in Prospect Heights and Wheeling." 

"While there has been incredible work accomplished by the PHNRC, there is always more to be done. Thus, I am thankful that I was part of the extraordinary progress that is being made as I will be leaving with one of the best internships I have had so far. I look forward to seeing the work PHNRC will continue to offer."
On safari at Nachusa with Commissioners Agnes Wojnarski and John Kamysz - Photo Seth Marcus
Eric had this to say. "I am thankful to have had the opportunity to work with a great organization like the PHNRC that does so much for the community of Prospect Heights. As a college student in my last year, I had to seek out an internship that would serve as a baseline experience for what is to come when I graduate. This intern program has exceeded my expectations. From June 1st to August 10th you can see and feel the difference that the PHNRC has on its community. I have had tremendous personal and professional growth working with my partner Evie, other commissioners, and the amazing group of volunteers. It was special to be a part of these beautiful places in Prospect Heights. Most people don't associate nature with the suburbs, but the PHNRC ensures that people have the same opportunity to experience the outdoors as it should be, in its most natural state. 
I've had the opportunity to visit different sites in Prospect Heights, as well as go and visit other places such as the Morton Arboretum, and the Nachusa grasslands. These locations are the standard for ecological restoration and what the PHNRC strives to resemble in their own sites. It is hard to imagine what the Slough, and what Hillcrest Lake used to look like before the amazing work the commission has done. Our summer efforts can be seen at all of the sites and we are very proud to have made an impact. The plant identification class that Agnes taught was very insightful and I learned an incredible amount about ecology, botany, and the natural history of Chicago. I look forward to continuing to work with the PHNRC through volunteer efforts and participating in the summer intern program again. 
Evie with a "bouquet" of invasive purple loosestrife - Photo Seth Marcus
"The intern program is essential to the success of the NRC's restoration efforts," said Commissioner Agnes Wojnarski. "It is my most favorite time of the year and I look forward to our morning classes before they set out on the tasks of the day. Evie and Eric are really special people and really took advantage of the opportunities our program offers." Originally funded by an anonymous private donor, the program and the opportunities are sustained through the generous funding from the City and the Park District of Prospect Heights.

Artwalk 2022 : Mushroom Magic

Now in its second year at the Park District's Izaak Walton Pavilion, the annual ARTWALK is a collaborative effort between the Prospect Heights Park District, the PHNRC and the founding Sunflower Group, has a different theme every year. This year, the theme is "Mushroom Magic" with the tongue-in-cheek byline of "Join in the Fungi".

The Artwalk is the brainchild of the Sunflower Group, (Artists Kate Tully, Mara Loviseotto and Andy Fagiolo) and features works by the three artists and local artists looking to contribute to the fun. The park is open to the public and free of charge. Nature trails traverse the park and hold endless opportunities to immerse yourself in nature and enjoy the artistic offerings.
Mushroom Magic - Come join in the FUNGI!
It is spreading!
September 24th from 10:00am - 4:00pm, the Artwalk will host the annual Pop Up Art Sale. Last year's event was a huge success and a great opportunity to do your early holiday shopping. The sale features arts and crafts from many local artists as well as the Sunflower Group. 

"This year the Pop Up Art Sale will showcase a variety of artists selling their work, some from last year and some new to the venue," said Kate Tully, cofounder of the Sunflower Group. "One artist from the original “Sunflower Project” will be selling her homemade ice cream, and we'll have a lemonade stand in case anyone is thirsty. Music will be performed by local artists and we hope to have an artist or two painting during the event. l Think it will be a great end to the Mushroom Magic Artwalk," she concluded.

Parking for the sale is on the northside of Hillside Avenue, facing Elmhurst Road. Attendees can park and take one of the several nature trails to the boardwalk. All trails lead to the pavilion.

We invite you to come out and enjoy a day of art, music and nature! A splendid time is guaranteed for all!

Seth Explains the Name

Wild Quinine - Photo courtesy of Seth Marcus

Common Name: Wild Quinine

Scientific name: Parthenium Integrifolium

The quinine that we consume comes from a different plant - the bark of a Chichona tree.  Quinine is used to treat malaria and during World War I, when the supply of the Chichona tree quinine was low, wild quinine use was attempted as a substitute.

In the past Native Americans used Wild Quinine as a medicinal - as a treatment for burns and for dysentery.

Wild quinine also goes by the name American Feverfew.  The word feverfew comes from the Latin word ‘febrifugia’ meaning fever reducer. It’s said that the first century Greek physician Dioscorides prescribed a similar plant for ‘all hot inflammations”.

‘Parthenium’ probably comes from a Greek plant of a similar name that was a ‘feverfew’ and the word ‘parthenium’ probably comes from the Greek word for virgin or young girl (Like the famous building the Parthenon which means temple of the virgin goddess).  The disk flowers of this plant are infertile which may be connected to the term parthenium/virgin.

Integrifolium: As discussed in a previous column, ‘folium’ means ‘leaf. ‘Intregri’’ means ‘complete’ or ‘entire’.  The integrifolium term probably refers to the fact that the leaves almost completely encircle the stalk.

Nature Speaks : Next Up
Dan Jaffe Wilder

Dan Jaffe Wilder

October 20th, 2022 - A Zoom Presentation 7:00 - 8:30

Please join us for Dan Jaffee Wilder - "Kill Your Lawn".

In this presentation, Dan Jaffe Wilder will talk about the various options available to us, from whole lawn replacement to strategies for reducing inputs and increasing ecological value.

Dan Jaffe Wilder is an ecologist, horticulturist, and botanist with over fifteen years’ experience working with native plants and their associated ecology.

This is a Zoom Presentation free of charge but you must register. The Library will send you a link to the presentation.


Click Here to learn more                                          Click here to register

Recommended Reading

The importance of learning plants.

Kill your lawn before it kills you!

To get out of your head, get out of your house!
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