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November 2015

PHNRC Celebrates Oaktober!

 

Governor Bruce Rauner proclaimed the month of October, Oak Awareness Month in Illinois. The proclamation places a critical spotlight on oak species throughout the state, an important native tree species that is disappearing from Illinois’ landscape. 

Oak trees were once abundant throughout Illinois. In the 1880s, oaks comprised more than 60 percent of the Chicago region’s tree canopy, while today, only 5 percent of the region’s trees are oaks.

PHNRC celebrated the month by planting 30, 1 year old seedlings at the Prospect Heights Slough.

Commissioner Hahn hard at work
The oaks were planted by Commissioners Peter Hahn and Dana Sievertson. "We focused on the southeast end of the slough and the woodland areas," said Commissioner Hahn. "We were looking for areas where there was an open canopy so they would have the light they need and grow up and replace dead, dying or invasive trees that will be coming down this winter," he added. "The oaks we are planting now are for the future generations of Prospect Heights."

The seedlings are members of the red oak family and were a gift to the city from Prospect Heights resident John Kamysz. 

"I collected the acorns from my family's property in Bristol Wisconsin.  There is a grove of old red, black and white oaks, along with cherry trees and hickory," Kamysz said.  "We've seen many of the old oaks dying in recent years, so I started collecting acorns, processing and replanting several years ago.  I've brought many back here to my home in Prospect Heights to give to friends and family to plant.  I was happy to see that Commission was willing to plant and reestablish these wonderful native oaks," he concluded.

The trees are protected by wire screens and an anchor stake to guide them through the winter and protect them from the residents and wildlife. "We are looking forward to watching these oaks emerge over the next few years," said Commissioner Sievertson. "They will be a fine addition to the community."

Hey and Associates Ecological Report on the Slough and Hillcrest Lake is in.

 
In August, the Prospect Heights City Council approved Hey and Associates to conduct an ecological study on the Prospect Heights Slough, Hillcrest Lake and the tributary watershed that feeds both wetlands. That report has been completed and released and may be download from our Home page at phnrc.com.

The  report consists of a thorough historical and ecological assessment of the Prospect Heights Slough and Hillcrest Lake and makes recommendations for ongoing maintenance and solutions for remediating perceived “aesthetic” objections from residents who live in the proximity of the Hillcrest Lake. 

We encourage ALL residents of Prospect Heights and anyone who loves the wetlands to download and read this highly informative report
.

City Council Charges PHNRC to Create a Plan for Implementing the Hey Recommendations


At the October City Council meeting, Second Ward Alderman Larry Rosenthal made the motion to turn the Hey report over to the Natural Resources Commission to create a plan for implementing the Hey recommendations at the Slough and Hillcrest Lake. 

Alderman Rosenthal asked legal council if "It would be appropriate to turn the matter over to the Commission to advise the council on how to proceed." Upon legal council's approval, he called for the motion which was quickly seconded and unanimously approved. 

The Natural Resources Commission has already begun working on the plan, slated for presentation sometime in January. "We are looking at the recommendations in great detail and reaching out to all of our resources for additional input where it is needed," commented Chairperson Agnes Wojnarski. "We are weighing the options and looking at the ecological impact that each one could potentially have on the wetlands. At the end of the day, we would look to recommend and implement what is best for the health of the entire wetland."

PHNRC hosted a public workshop in early November attended by PHNRC Commissioners and representatives from the Hillcrest Lake Homeowners Association. The basic plan outline was reviewed and concerns from the Homeowners Association were expressed and noted. Prospect Heights City Administrator Joe Wade and Assistant City Administrator Peter Falcone were in attendance.

Questions about the Hey report or the PHNRC implementation plan may be directed to info@phnrc.com.

Commissioner Jendreas Earns Master Naturalist Certification


Commissioner Marcia Jendreas has successfully completed and earned the certification of Master Naturalist from the University of Illinois.

The University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist program provides science-based educational opportunities that connect people with nature and help them become engaged environmental stewards. The Program educates and trains adult volunteers to help disseminate natural resource information to the public and to assist with conservation and restoration activities in their community.

"As a commissioner I think it is very important for us to continue to our education and upgrade our sensibilities about all things natural," said Commissioner Jendreas. "The course work was intense and I learned about plants, wildlife, archaeology, geology, and ecology. The fact that the classes are at different locations around the state gives you a great perspective on how different the landscape and ultimately the ecosystems can be."

The training sessions take place one day a week over a two-month period and are led by expert educators in the region. Training includes both classroom instruction and field study. 60 hours of volunteer work is required to complete the program and become certified. In order to remain a certified Master Naturalist, 30 hours of volunteer work and 10 hours of continuing education or advanced training are required each year.

 

Seedsational!


This year has been a banner year for collecting native seed. "We have easily tripled our gatherings and have had our most productive year this time around," says Commissioner and chairperson Agnes Wojnarski.

Things were done a little differently this year. Seed collection started in mid-August at the sedge meadow. By mid-September we had moved to the remnant prairie and began collecting there in earnest with entire work days dedicated to seed collection. In late September through end of October, we added a special edition Seed Collection Wednesdays in addition to the bi-monthly work days. Finally, commissioners went out and collected on their own at sites local to where they live.
The result of the increased effort has paid off. Over 70 different species of native seeds have been collected from local sources representing over 60 pounds of seed. Most of the seed has already been processed on new equipment built by volunteer Marek Wrobel.

So what is next? Sowing the seeds will take place starting on November 22nd from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. That work day will begin with the last bit of seed processing taking place at 9 East Marion Avenue in Prospect Heights and will last for about one hour. Volunteers will then proceed around the slough to the seeding sites to begin sowing the native seeds. A Kielbasa roast will begin as soon as we are done for the day. 

December 6th, is the return visit to the ComEd Bike Path Prairie for a second seeding on the one year anniversary of the first seeding event. We will begin at 9:00 am. and end at 12:00 pm. The traditional Kielbasa roast will ensue. 


Detailed information about the two seeding events is available on our website at http://phnrc.com/calendar.html. New to the crew, find out more about becoming a volunteer and download our volunteer waiver at http://phnrc.com/volunteering.html.
 

PHNRC adds New Commissioner Peter Hahn


Last September the Prospect Heights City Council unanimously approved the appointment of Peter Hahn to the position of Commissioner on the Natural Resources Commission. 

Peter began volunteering back in January of 2015 for the Natural Resource Commission and became one of the most reliable members of the team. "Pete was instantly a hit because of his old school ways and his easy going personality," said Commissioner Dana Sievertson. "Given his 40 years of experience and his consistent work ethic, his 
recommendation and approval was a given."


"I was bike riding through my favorite area when I became aware of the NRC and their work," commented Hahn. "The “slough” as it is now called had a different name when my mother lived on Marion in the 40's. Back then, it was called the swamp. As kids, we ice skated there in the winter so I have a sentimental attachment to the area in addition to my love of working outside. It was a dream come true to become a steward of a natural area that was so important in my youth."

"My life's work has been with the natural environment," he continued.  "Having worked on a golf course since I was 13 and earning a degree in ornamental horticulture, I came to really know the industry with over 40 years of practical hands on experience with soils, drainage, trees, flowers, turfgrass, pesticides, fertilizers and crew management.  I have conducted numerous golf course improvements mostly done in house by our grounds department, first at Rolling Green in Arlington Heights. and at Ridgemoor Country Club in Chicago where I still work as a groundskeeper.  I was the golf course Superintendent at Ridgemoor for 34 years." 
 

"Our mission statement is 'To preserve, protect and restore natural areas and raise awareness of environmental issues affecting Prospect Heights Illinois'. We are facing many challenges right now and I look forward to being a part of solving those issues"
Copyright © 2015 Prospect Heights Natural Resources Commission, All rights reserved.


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