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Kat's Restoration Plan

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years ago
Conservation Plan Little Red School House
 
..to acquire... and hold lands containing one or more natural forests or parts thereof or lands connecting such forests or parts thereof, or lands capable of being forested, for the purpose of protecting and preserving the flora, fauna, and scenic beauties within such district, and to restore, restock, protect and preserve the natural forests and such lands together with their flora and fauna, as nearly as may be, in their natural state and condition, for the purpose of the education, pleasure, and recreation of the public...
From the Illinois Enabling Act
 
My Mission Statement
  1. My conservation plan is intended to promote nature and biodiversity in two federally funded parks
    1. My project’s first goal is to educate people who visit the parks. The majority of visitors the parks receive are school groups under the age of 16. By educating them I hope to promote nature restoration and preservation, in addition to teaching visitors about the prairie.
    2. My second goal is to help the Little Red School House and Sand Ridge Nature Center build up their personal records and data. This is would be valuable as both a resource for current restoration work, as well as a historical record for future generations.
    3. The final goal in my plan is restoration. I want to help plant some native grasses and prairie plants in order to attempt to recreate (as closely as possible) a segment of native Illinois prairie.
Location
Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center

9800 Willow Springs Road

Willow Springs, IL 60480

 
The school house was built in 1886 (the first school in the area) and since then has been given the status of national historic landmark. The school house was actually in use until 1932 and officially opened up as a visitor/educational center in 1955. The land itself is has a very interesting story as well. Longjohn Slough (a wet prairie) is found on the grounds and was used by Native Americans and settlers. In terms of plants and grasses, there seems to be a lack of cataloging of what they have/what they should have. I hope I can compile a complete database of grasses, plants and wildlife that would be helpful to current and future restoration.
 
Sand Ridge Nature Center

15890 Paxton Avenue

South Holland, IL 60473

 
 
This location seems less history orientated and more nature focused. As you can see from the picture on the right, the center is home to an impressive prairie ecosystem. This area is a 235 acre reserve with prairies, savannas, woodlands, marshes and sand dunes. It is really amazing to see the transition from one habitat to another and the interaction between them. There is a visitor education center, which does a fairly good job of teaching visitors about various plants, grasses and animals, but it could use more specific information (i.e. sign posts, more pictures). This is a good location, because help is needed cataloging various species and planting new native grasses.
 
 Palos and Sag Valley Divisions Map
 Little Red School House 252
 
 Thorn Creek Division Map
Sandy Ridge 254
 
Implementation of Plan
Although each site requires something a little different, there are still overlapping similarities.
      1. I will first do some work in the fields just trying to document and identify the plants that I can. After compiling some of my own data, I will look at the data and history that is available to me through   the park systems and try to fill in any missing species identification.  My goal for this step is to set up an electronic database of the history of what was planted where and by whom. This should serve as a valuable tool for both education purposes and also future restoration efforts.
 
  1. After completing step one, I would like to work on improve the educational resources of both parks. The Little Red School House needs to work on appealing to younger children in a more meaningful and valuable way. I would like to create updated pamphlets (with pictures!) and order sign markers so that rangers can utilize these resources and students can learn from them. Sandy Ridge is doing a good job with their interactive activities (geared toward children), but more could be done to call older members of the community to action. Having prairie restoration/biodiversity information pamphlets would appeal to a wider range of people and help to call attention to the need for further activism in the prairies.
 
  1. After the recording and educational steps are completed I would like to finish the restoration project with a project that would encourage the planting and growth of a native prairie. I would like to plant native prairie wildflowers and grasses in an area of the park, in order to encourage and restore the ideals of sustainability and biodiversity.
                                      1. Find the exact area to begin to plant the prairie (still working on this)
                                      2. Order seeds through an approved Federal Park vendor (Big Bluestem, Rattlesnake Master, etc.)
                                      3. Consult on planting methods (transplanting plants from greenhouse/ drilling seed into soil)
                                     
Funding and Resources
 
Since I am working entirely on public land, I plan to receive funding from various federal and state organizations. I am in contact with Steven Bylina (superintendent of the Forest Preserves of Cook County) and he is enthusiastic about the prospect of improving both locations.
  1. Pamphlets and other educational materials (road signs, charts, new diagrams)- 300.00
  2. Prairie grasses, flowers and other plants – 500.00
  3. Workers and consultants for prairie restoration- 700.00
  4. A dent in Illinois Prairie restoration- priceless
 
For steps numbers 1 and 3 I hope to use the support of volunteer biology and ecology students from Northwestern University. 
 
Important Dates and Events coming up
 May 30- Meeting with the The Forest Preserve District of Cook County Board of Commissioners
June 5- Grant Approval (order plants and grasses)
 [HOW DID IT GO?]
 
 Updates!
I have completed phase one of my proposal. Currently both locations have a new electronic database with all the plants that are growing on the sites. The data [DO YOU HAVE LINKS?] includes information about the plant, location of the plant (map) and pictures of the plant.
I am in phase two of my proposal- working on educational materials.

 

Sources

The Tallgrass Restoration Handbook: For Prairies, Savannas, and Woodlands, by Stephen Packard and Cornelia F. Mutel, editors. 1997. Society for Ecological Restoration by Island Press, 1718 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 2009-1148. xxxii + 463 pages

Designing seed mixes for prairie restorations: Revisiting the formula. Ecological Restoration by Scott Weber. 1999. Volume 13, number 4, pages 196 - 201.

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