Mark Your Calendars, December 7th is the Most Important Volunteer Work Day of the Year!

After a summer of intense labor over many months, it all comes together on December 7th from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm when we will be completing the most important task of the year, seeding the ComEd Prairie Restoration site. This important task requires lots of people power and we are looking for as many volunteers as we can get.

We will be hand-sowing over 60 pounds of native, local prairie seed along 5 acres of the Prospect Heights Bike Trail just east of Country Gardens. This prairie planting will replace the Eurasian nonnative grasses that did not support life with over one hundred species of prairie plants.  The prairie will provide critical habitat and biodiversity for the wildlife in the area, while improving the aesthetic and recreational value to residents. Instructions and buckets of premixed seed will be provided. This is an investment you can make into this major community project that you can really feel good about while have a really good time with your neighbors. Please dress super warm, (multiple layers are a good idea) and be on time if possible and stay as long as you can.

To get to the restoration site, take Elmhurst Rd to north of Palatine Rd. and make a left onto South Wildwood Drive, which is the second side street North of Palatine Rd. Follow Wildwood until you get to Sherwood Drive. At the STOP sign, make a left onto Sherwood Drive and park along the street. The group will be in the field under the power lines.

In case of inclement weather, just a small portion of the Prairie will be seeded, and the remainder will be done by the Commission when the weather improves.


PHNRC Launches the Prairie in a Packet Program.

With the dual purpose of creating more native plantings in the city and continuing our outreach and education programs the PHNRC distributed 375 native Illinois prairie flowers seed packets to the students of the Betsy Ross School in an effort to educate them about the importance of local and native plants to the bird, bee and butterfly populations. "We were looking to spread awareness of the interdependence between native plants and bird and bee populations," said Agnieszka Debicki, one of the commissioners of PHNRC . "The seeds have been collected by the commission and our volunteers to be processed for our ComEd and Prospect Heights slough prairie restoration project we are currently conducting."
The native seed packets were distributed by the Natural Resources Commission on Friday, November 14th free of charge to the students by the teachers in the classroom. The seeds should be planted in early December after the first snow fall and should be planted in a sunny area at least 2' x 3'.

Information about the individual seeds and FAQ's may be found on our web site at A more complete PDF may be downloaded from the same page. We wish to thank Dr John Hilty for allowing us to use his photos and text for this purpose.

Residents interested in obtaining a prairie seed packet may do so by subscribing to the Resources Journal. 

Large Volunteer Turnout Yields Big Return

"The October 26th work day saw our largest volunteer turnout ever and produced the greatest amount of buckthorn removal we have ever done since we began the restoration project," said Agnes Wojnarski, Chairperson of the PHNRC. "The chainsaw crew began at 7:30 am removing a couple of public safety hazards and then proceeded to open the area from 9 Hillside to just short of Maple avenue.

"Regular volunteers succeeded in removing the last remnants of the outer buckthorn wall that ran nearly continuously from Elmhurst Road north to Willow Road. That is a huge accomplishment in and of it's self," added Commissioner Marcia Jendreas. "Now we can begin concentrating on the infill that formed just behind the wall and runs down to the water at the slough."

"While volunteer turnout for the November 9th work day was greatly reduced the potent chainsaw group continued the frantic pace and equaled the effort of the 26th with cutting over Saturday and Sunday," added Commissioner Dana Sievertson. "We are looking to finish connecting the opening at 7 Hillside to Maple Avenue on our next scheduled work day of November 23rd."

Kudos to the Prospect Heights Park District for their contribution of equipment and manpower to remove and cleanup the downed buckthorn. Without their involvement, we would no have been able to achieve all we have accomplished over the last 2 months.

More information on volunteering is available on our website. Our next Volunteer Day is Sunday, November 23rd from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. Volunteers meet every other Sunday. Please check the calendar of events for the latest information.

 Commissioner Wojnarski Learns the Fine Art of Burning

In preparation for the future needs of the PHNRC restoration projects, Commissioner Wojnarski has has completed the Chicago Wilderness Ecological Prescription Burning Course. She was able to participate in two controlled burns this months, alongside the Cook County Forest Preserve Burn Crew at Deer Grove Forest Preserve and at the Morton Arboretum. She plans on trying to help as much as she can during the burn season, which runs from November 1st to April 15th, to gain the maximum amount of experience possible.

Conducting prescribed, controlled burning is a vital way to restore the ecological health of our local ecosystem. Throughout history, our lands were consumed by fire on a regular basis, maintaining the open prairie grasslands for thousands of years. Lightening strikes caused many wildfires during droughts but burning was very frequently used by Native Americans for safety, farming, hunting and other reasons.
Many of the native plant communities have evolved with fire. Burning limits encroachment from woody species, eliminates build-up of biomass like thatch, opens up packets for new vegetation to establish and grow and promotes some species germination.   Fire along with other disturbances like bison migration  allowed the vast stretches of prairie to exist for thousands of years. With decades of fire suppression, fire intolerant species and woody vegetation like buckthorn have taken over many natural areas, degrading our prairies,increasing invasive species take over and limiting the spread and robustness of native flora. Fire suppression is also one of the reasons that our Oak woodlands are in such deep trouble.

The prairie restoration projects of the PHNRC will eventually undergo controlled burns, every three years. These are controlled fires performed only under the right weather conditions and they benefit your ecosystems. PHNRC burns are a ways off but when they are to be conducted, residents will receive ample notice.


Sunday the 23rd of November is the Next Volunteer Workday. 

Sunday November 23rd is the next volunteer workday with the focus on buckthorn removal. Removal will begin at 9:00 on Hillside Avenue and go to 12:00. Come when you can and stay as long as you can. A splendid time is guaranteed for all! Visit the website for more information on volunteering.

Public Forum on the McDonald Creek Reminder. 

Don't forget the Public Forum  on Mon, November 17, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm at the Gary Morava Recreation Center - 110 West Camp McDonald Road - Prospect Heights, IL. 60070 

The Prospect Heights Park District, in conjunction with the City of Prospect Heights and the Natural Resources Commission, will be hosting a public forum to discuss restoration plans for parkland adjacent to McDonald Creek. The forum will feature a presentation and interactive feedback session with a partner researcher from the University of Wisconsin at  Madison. Please join us! Your participation is valuable in determining the future of our public natural spaces. Contact 847.394.2848 for additional information.
Copyright © 2014 Prospect Heights Natural Resources Commission, All rights reserved.

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