by Kelly Schultz, Stewardship Ecologist, Lake County Forest Preserves
This post is an introduction of one of four hikes we have for our upcoming GRN workshop.
This 700-acre preserve is home to a high quality sedge meadow, prairie, and mesic woodlands, but you wouldn’t have known that 12 years ago. Two incredibly dedicated volunteers took on this preserve and have now improved 100 acres, removing mature buckthorn thickets and the tedious small stems, managing cattails, spraying invasive plants, and adding seeds and plants to bring back the missing flora. Staff and contractors joined the ongoing land management, providing more extensive wetland management, Rx burning, seeding, and planting. Wildlife staff have rounded out the restoration efforts with deer management, jumping mice, and loosestrife beetles. Birds flock to Grassy Lake; snipes and orchard orioles have come to call it home. Tiger salamanders and frogs also live in this preserve, and are thankful for the removal of buckthorn and its emodin.
Much of the work is also thanks to the Barrington Greenways Initiative partnership! BGI workdays are responsible for several big planting projects, not to mention sowing, collection, and buckthorn workdays. The BGI restoration crew has been a regular asset in land management and the jointly funded Technician has been working to expand volunteer efforts at this preserve.
Today you can find dozens of sedges – Carex stricta, pellita, lasiocarpa, interior, lupuliformis, lacustris – rushes – including the state endangered Scirpus microcarpus and more common bulrushes – alongside ferns, yellow and purple loosestrife species, gentians, pale spike lobelia, several milkweed species, and many other pollinator favorites. The namesake lake is now visible from the trail. The woodlands have been transformed with brush removal, seeding, planting, and deer management. The volunteers’ dedication was the impetus for changing our brush pile burning policy across the District (formerly staff only), they have been an inspiration & beneficiary of the BGI partnership, and they were recipients of a national award for outstanding volunteers.
Come visit this site at GRN!
Interested in registering for the workshop? There may be space. Look at this post with the details: https://grasslandrestorationnetwork.org/2022/06/23/1727/