Pix: Deer Grove East Restoration Area
Sierra Club Picnic & Deer Grove East Tours
The day started out with a guided tour, led by Dominic Kempson, of Stantec Consulting, to see the restoration area at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve in Palatine. Stantec Consulting of Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, is working with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County and Openlands to restore Deer Grove East to its previous natural state. Afterwards we enjoyed the delicious lunch donated and prepared by the Northwest Cook County Group of the Sierra Club.
Deer Grove East was once a mix of typical habitats found in Illinois: Oak Savannah, Prarie and Wetlands. After non-native people settled the area, much of the land was turned into farm fields. This necessitated the draining and tiling of the original wetland to facilitate the cultivation of crops. Like most of the rest of Illinois, many acres of prarie were plowed under to take advantage of the rich soil found in the parries. Disturbance of the surrounding areas has allowed non-native invasive species to move into the Oak Savannahs and crowd out the indigenous plants.
Dominic led the group through areas of prarie where selective use of herbicide and seeding are being used to re-establish the plants that originally grew in this area. We saw wetlands where efforts are underway to restore natural drainage and plant life. The return of this high quality plant life to it's original state will provide the habitat for waterfowl and other endangered wildlife. The woodlands are being cleared of the invasive and harmful species and by opening up the area it will allow sunlight to penetrate the forest floor.
All of the restoration efforts take time and are an on-going process. If you were present for the tour, make sure to come back to DGE on a regular basis, and volunteer to help with the restoration effort (DGE Forest Preserve). This type of project is dynamic and ever changing and worth keeping an eye on.
– by Chris Mest - Certified arborist #IL-1367A