Leader: Jim Vanderpoel
Dive deep into the wilds of Northwest Cook/Southwest Lake counties with the Barrington Greenway Initiative’s Explore and Restore series coming to a forest preserve near you!
Northwest Cook and Southwest Lake counties contain over 16,000 acres of forest preserves, one of the highest concentrations of publicly owned lands in the region. These forest preserves, among the oldest and largest in the country, contain a variety of globally rare habitats including tallgrass prairies, oak savannas and woodlands, and wetlands that form the “Barrington Greenway” a connected system of preserves that animals can travel through to feed and breed successfully. These varied habitats need humans to keep them healthy and diverse through ecological restoration – “the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed.”
As a part of the Explore and Restore series, we are calling on neighbors in the region to get involved by hiking, collecting and distributing native seeds, cutting and burning invasive species, participating in introductory bird walks, and planting prairie plugs across the region to create the largest Greenway in NE Illinois.
Here’s how it works. Each month, a different “spotlight event” will showcase a new site via an interpretive hike or restoration activity. In the winter, volunteers will cut and burn invasive brush that chokes out our native species and learn how to identify trees and shrubs. In the spring and summer, featured activities include prairie plug plantings, the removal of invasive species, and interpretive hikes focused on plants, butterflies, and birds. Starting in the September, weekly seed collecting opportunities at preserves throughout the region will be held. These seeds are strategically distributed throughout the region to ensure that prairies and woodlands continue to improve. During fall and spring, bird walks will highlight the stunning diversity of birds that migrate through or overwinter in the area. All of these events are designed to illustrate the biodiversity of the region and the central role that volunteers like you play in the effort.
All ages and levels of experience are welcome. Work side-by-side with experienced volunteer stewards and staff from Citizens for Conservation, Audubon Great Lakes, Friends of the Forest Preserves, Forest Preserves of Cook County, and Lake County Forest Preserves.