May 072013

Come one, come all! Its that time of the year to lend a hand in cleaning a favorite local nature preserve—The Lucas Berg! Come on out from 9:00 to noon on Saturday, May 11, get a little dirty, have some fun and see the wildlife all while lending a hand (and some elbow grease) to beautify this local area of need. Refreshments and “ataboys” will be provided by the Life Safety Committee and Village of Worth leadership at high noon. Come out and lend a hand to keep this green space one of the most beautiful on the Southwest side.

The Lucas Berg is a site of some controversy, as the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has been considering it as a repository site for contaminated dredge material from the Cal Sag project. The Life Safety Committee is working to promote its removal from the USACE’s list of placement property forever.

The Lucas Berg is a fragile ecosystem; flora and fauna have developed at Lucas Berg after 30 years of neglect by the USACE. The Lucas Berg hosts an abundance of fish and wildlife in a wetland that are currently not protected or recognized by the USACE, they will certainly be destroyed should the Life Safety Committee fail in its mission. To learn more about this project visit the Life Safety Committee. To lend a little help in the short-term, come on out for this clean up day on May 11. No RSVP required. Just come on out.

Feb 282013

Over the last couple weeks, we’ve been spending some time in the woods–engaged in ecological restoration projects both in Cook and Will Counties. Earlier this month, we were working out in Lockport, IL along the Des Plaines River to restore the very rare dolomite prairie of the Lockport Prairie Nature Preserve—a 285-acre stretch of land acquired by the preserve in 2011. Dolomite prairie is quite interesting as the soil base is no more than a meter thick and is very rocky, and so the flora it supports is unique in its adaptive qualities. The Lockport Preserve is home to a variety of plant species including the federally endangered leafy prairie clover and the federally threatened lakeside daisy. Wildlife includes the federally endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly and other rare species. Our time there was spent cutting back invasive buckthorn and burning brush to allow for natives to take hold once again.

Similarly, in Palos Hills, IL about 20 of us headed out to the snowy woods last weekend to restore the diminishing Oak Savannah. Working beside a chainsaw crew, we hauled fallen silver maples—an invasive, “weedy” tree not native to the highland area in which we were working—and stacked seven burn piles nearly three meters tall each. The work was rigorous, but the positive impact we made to the landscape over the course of just three hours was immediately seen. With consistent efforts like this, in the years to come, we hope to see the oaks return. Special thanks goes to long-time volunteer stewards Joe Neumann, Roger Keller and everyone with the Palos Restoration Project for their invitation to join them this day and to patiently teach us the importance of this work.

Feb 142013

Don’t forget, this Saturday we’re heading out to the woods for a morning of ecological restoration. Please join us. Work will occur outdoors in the preserve, so please bring work gloves and dress for the weather. We’ll be cutting and piling brush to help remove invasive species that threaten the native plants. Registration is required. Please contact FPDWC organizer Renee Gauchat at 815.722.7364 or e-mail to register for this event. The actual work will occur at Lockport Prairie Nature Preserve on Division Street—east of Route 53/Broadway Street in Lockport, IL.