Woods && Wetlands

Woods & Wetlands


Joining Illinois Sierra Club Members in Lake and Northeastern Cook Counties

Winter 2004, Issue #40

In This Issue 
Go To Article Better Ballots for Better Elections Go To Article Better Farming Through Cover Crops
Go To Article W&W Executive Committee - Vote! Go To Article Join Our E-Mail Lists
Go To Article Green Oaks graveyard for wetlands? Go To Article Woods & Wetlands’ Winter Party
Go To Article Sequoit Creek Watershed Water Sentinels Go To Article Outings Committee 2005 Survey
Go To Article PDA Readable W&W News Go To Article Printable pdf W&W News
Go To Article Next Issue of W&W News Go To Article Last Issue of W&W News


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W&W Choice Ballots for Better Elections
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The Woods & Wetlands Group of the Sierra Club will choose officers for our Executive Committee by a voting method that we think would be better for our country. We are taking the Australian approach to elections rather than the traditional winner-take-all system.

Instead of voting for one candidate per office, we're asking voters to rank the candidates according to their preference. For example, with five candidates for three positions, rank the candidates 1 through 5 with 1 being your top choice, 2 your second choice, etc.

This system will allow for a runoff election if three candidates do not emerge with at least 33 percent each of the No. 1 votes in the count. We will use the fractional transfer method explained by the Center for Voting and Democracy. To download and try the (1MB) spreadsheet that we will use click here.

In a runoff, the prioritized votes then determine the winners. The method gives the group a greater chance of having leadership that appeals to a broad spectrum of the group’s members.

The Executive Committee believes this is a superior way of selecting officers because it encourages members to vote for people they want as leaders rather than the candidates who we are told have the best chance of winning.

This newsletter contains a ballot that you can use to vote for our Executive Committee members. Please follow the instructions on the ballot carefully and mail it by January 27.

Ballots will be counted February 3 at the Executive Committee meeting, and all members are welcome to RSVP and attend.


What “Executive Committee?”Return to Top

It’s time to vote for members of the Woods & Wetlands Executive Committee … what’s up with that?

Many Sierra Club members sign up thinking that they’re supporting an outings club, or a professional lobbying organization. It’s reassuring when the first eye-grabbing Sierra magazine arrives from national. But then, unexpected little newsletters with the Sierra Club logo begin to arrive too. Confusion ensues: “Are there two Sierra Clubs?” Then yet another newspaper arrives from the Chapter. “All right, what’s going on?”

Unlike many other national nongovernmental organizations and charities, Sierra Club’s members play a primary role, and a substantial portion of the Club’s resources are applied to support volunteer activities at the local and regional levels. Members are gathered into Groups, and Groups combined into Chapters.


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Your local Woods & Wetlands Group has about 2300 members in our Lake and NE Cook County territory. We publish the Woods & Wetlands News and the IL Chapter sends out the Lake & Prairie, but it’s all ONE CLUB.

Leadership of our local W&W Group is determined by member election of a five-person Executive Committee with three seats open this year. Our ExCom plans local Group activities, keeps tabs on the Chapter and national opportunities, and decides how to spend some of the dues money that members send to the Club.

Besides outings and meetings, the ExCom members scramble to inject the Club’s environmental protection agenda into local, regional and national decisions, and to get out and enjoy our preserved open spaces with members. Selection of these ExCom members will affect the direction of our Group in our local arena, where we have the most influence.

Please return your ballot, and then support the new ExCom by volunteering to help.


Woods & Wetlands Sierra Club Ballot

Candidate one: ____________________________

Candidate two: __________________________

Candidate three: __________________________

Candidate four: __________________________

Candidate five: ____________________________

Must be postmarked by January 27

  • Use the ballot on the W&W News you got in the mail, or print out this one and cut out the ballot;
  • Vote by ranking the candidates 1 through 5 with 1 being your top choice, 2 your second choice, etc. (See their statements above);
  • For joint memberships, copy the ballot so both members can vote;
  • Put your ballots in an envelope and write your name(s) and address only on the envelope F required for your vote to be tallied E, which will be separated from your ballot; and
  • Mail the envelope to:
    Sierra Club W&W Elections
    P. O. Box 876
    Grayslake, IL 60030.

Evan Craig has served on the Executive Committee for 4 terms and as Chair for 7 years. He believes that the Group’s ability to protect the environment depends upon involving members locally. To achieve this, he informs members through the W&W News, the Group website and e-mail networks; he involves members in committees, campaigns, legislative visits and wilderness outings; and trains new leaders. Meanwhile, he represents the Club to battle the impacts of sprawl, sewage treatment plants and wetland destruction. Under his leadership, the Outings Committee has quadrupled this year, and is planning an expanded program in 2005. Jacqueline Dann
Alongside my husband, Donnie Dann, a dedicated environmentalist and conservationist, I have attended many Sierra Club functions in the last few years. I have been privileged in several instances to hear Carl Pope, Maggie Fox, and other Sierra club leaders give informative and inspirational speeches at these events. I have been to most of the local areas where Sierra holds events, both as a bird watcher and bird monitor, and just to enjoy the natural settings. I think it is time for me to personally “pay my dues” with service to this organization.
Larry Marvet
When I moved to the Chicago area 4 years ago, I was uninformed about what the issues were, but when I found that the Corps of Engineers was planning to bulldoze our local forest preserve, I shook off the dust and worked to save it. With Sierra Club help, Buffalo Creek Preserve was pardoned. I think it’s important, especially with four more Bush years, to get more of our membership involved and active. As a Woods & Wetlands board member, I’ll be active over a wider range of issues and, hopefully, get more of you involved as well..
John Massman has been active in W&W for the last 11 years. For the last 10 years John has been a Co-conservation Chair, leading regular stewardship outings to Sun Lake Forest Preserve. John is very concerned about the rampant development of northwestern Lake County and specifically the development in and around the Sequoit Creek Watershed. Jessica Price
A junior at Lake Forest College, I’ve been involved with a variety of activism and community service organizations, and now focus my efforts on leading LEAP, a campus environmental organization. We focus on lobbying for college recycling program improvements; acquiring a grant for these and pushing for a commitment to maintain the program independent of student action; raising campus awareness about environmental issues; and grassroots lobbying for environmentally protective legislation. I would like to extend my commitment to environmentalism outside of the college by serving on the ExCom, utilizing skills gained through extensive involvement as a campus leader.


Better land management through cover crops Return to Top

by John McMullen
Many people may not be aware that the Lake County Forest Preserve leases a significant amount of the acreage that it owns to farming. This may be an appropriate use of the land. Nevertheless, we can and should expect the Preserve to make sure that this farmland is treated in no less of an ecologically responsible manner than the land it actively manages. Leasing it to someone else does not obviate this solemn obligation.

A pillar of ecologically responsible farming is the use of cover crops. Cover crops are grown for reasons other than short-term economic gain. They are generally not produced for sale but rather for the long term benefits that accrue to subsequent crops and to the sustainability of the land itself. Almost any crop can be used in one form or another as a cover crop. A cover crop has been defined as “any crop whose main purpose is to benefit the soil and/or other crops in one or more ways, but is not intended to be harvested for feed or sale.” There are four general categories of cover crop uses:

  1. Fallow cover crops that contemplate taking land out of cash crop production for all or part of a season;
  2. Winter cover crops that are sown in late summer or early fall after the cash crop is harvested and remain in place until spring;
  3. Smother crops (for weed suppression) in any window of opportunity between cash crops; and
  4. Under-sown cover crops that are incorporated alongside the cash crop.

The more common cover crops include winter rye, oats, ryegrass, buckwheat, clover, vetch and alfalfa.

Combating erosion is prominent among the reasons for using cover crops. Cover crops lessen the impact of wind and water passing over the soil surface. And while this may not seem particularly exciting, consider the estimate that the United States loses 2 billion tons of topsoil a year to erosion. There are several other justifications, however, that are arguably just as compelling:

Organic matter

Cover crops contribute considerable organic matter to the soil. As most gardeners know, organic matter plays a myriad of positive roles in improving the overall health of the soil. Specifically, organic matter is indispensable in improving the soil structure and also helps to absorb and conserve moisture.

Weed suppression

Cover crops can be used to actually suppress weeds, reducing the need for chemical herbicides and/or fuel-consuming tillage.

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Improve fertility

A successfully established leguminous cover crop can replace some or all of the fertilizer needed to produce crops. Cover crops are capable of trapping residual nitrogen in the soil, and in the case of legumes, (i.e., clovers, alfalfa, and vetch) actually fix nitrogen to the soil. Both legumes and non-legumes are also capable of increasing the availability of phosphorus, potassium and micronutrients.

Reduce groundwater contamination

Cover crops can be used strategically late in the season essentially to mop up soluble nutrients that might otherwise be lost by leaching. In addition to the obvious benefit of decreasing the amount of fertilizer that will be needed the following season, the cover crop works to lock up the soluble nutrients that otherwise become pollutants in the local watershed. There is increasing awareness of the negative environmental effects of synthetic fertilizers, including ground and surface water contamination, and the energy intensiveness of fertilizer production.

Biological diversity

Cover crops expand the local biological diversity. Biological diversity, in turn, is widely recognized as a key to stability in ecological systems.

With all of these impressive attributes, you may wonder why any farmer would not use cover crops. In fairness to the farmers who do not, it is very problematic to incorporate cover crops in a conventional agricultural context. Cover crops present significant challenges, namely: reduced spring soil temperatures, disruption of field operations, and allelopathy (an inhibiting effect on germination— good for weeds, bad for crops). And it simply does not seem economically viable for many farmers to take land out of production long enough to effectively use cover crops.

Still, cover crops are being used with great success in the organic community and are receiving growing attention in conventional circles. Cover crops are integral where there is an emphasis on sustainability and are most realistic where economic expediency does not demand that every acre be farmed every year. Under these criteria the Preserve is ideally situated to incorporate the use of cover crops into its planning. Perhaps the Preserve could use at least part of the farmland as a demonstration project for farmers. Let’s not pass up this opportunity to help advance a sound ecological practice.

Join Our Free E-mail Lists! Return to Top

Members are invited to join the W&W group's e-mail lists. On the ALERTS list you will receive infrequent timely posts from the Group Chair (only), primarily on local issues. Some of these appear on this website, and if you subscribe you will learn about them in time to help. The ISSUES list allows you to share in a discussion with other W&Wers. To sign up, just visit each of these websites and click Join :



We do not share e-mail address lists, and you can remove yourself from either list at any time.


Green Oaks graveyard for wetlands?Return to Top

by Evan Craig

On its website, Green Oaks describes itself as where “the dense forest had to be cut and the swamps drained” for farming. A November 6 Daily Herald article states that residential conversion is complete, and touts the goal of Mayor Tom Adams for commercial development of more of its lands with upscale skyscrapers. With some bad examples in their past, we question what will become of their remaining wetlands, and in a February letter (posted on the W&W website), encouraged the Plan Commission to exercise care and caution.

What’s left of some wetlands in Green Oaks - a retention pond and huge culverts under the Harley Davidson building.

The Harley Davidson building on Rt. 176, also prominently featured on the Green Oaks website, occupies a lot that once had wetlands. Those wetlands are now confined to a small retention pond that connects to huge culverts under the building to replace the function of the absorbent soils of the site.


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While this arrangement might serve to contain stormwater, its ability to support wildlife suffers. If this represents his “balanced” approach for environmental protection, we question whether Mayor Tom Adams, a foe of isolated wetland protection, should represent the residents of Lake County as Vice Chair of the Stormwater Management Commission.

In the Herald article, Adams also promotes skyscraper development on the adjoining Baker property. Until this fall that lot included isolated wetlands left by the construction of Rt. 94, which have now been filled in and relocated without approval of a development plan by the Green Oaks Plan Commission. The north half of the Baker property includes higher quality federal wetlands that serve as the headwaters of the North Branch of the Chicago River. The developer has a poor record of fulfilling the wetland mitigation commitments in previous projects, and Adams should be more circumspect in promoting his work without the approval of his plan commission. Since long-term maintenance is critical to any wetland mitigation strategy, we are concerned that the developer might fail that trust again, and have urged the Commission to deny ambitious proposals that rely on long term performance.

If the residents of Green Oaks agree with Adams’ goal of skyscraper development to produce revenue, they should consider whether it is worth the loss of their remaining wetlands, open spaces and views. If not, they should encourage the village to either embrace limited growth, or negotiate open space preservation in exchange for annexation agreement and zoning changes, and for variances from village ordinances sought by developers.


Woods & Wetlands’ Winter Party Return to Top

Come shake the winter blues with your Sierra Club friends.

Join us for some winter cheer and lively conversation at a member’s home in Lake Forest.

Mark Your Calendar

You won’t want to miss this!

Please come … we want to see YOU there!

Sunday, January 23,  3:00–7:00 pm

Call Barbara Bell at 847-367-4253

to RSVP and get directions.


Sequoit Creek Watershed Water Sentinels:
Making a difference in just a few hours Return to Top

by John Massman, Conservation Chair

Ready to get your feet wet? While there’s ice on the lakes now, its time to launch the Woods and Wetlands Water Sentinels program. We’re looking for volunteers to join us in our efforts to protect the Sequoit Creek Watershed in the northwest corner of Lake County. 

Why the Sequoit Creek Watershed?

Some of Lake County’s cleanest and most pristine lakes are located within this watershed. Starting with Cedar Lake, considered by the IDNR to be a biologically significant water body because it contains various state threatened and endangered plants and fish, the watershed includes Deep Lake, Sun Lake, East Loon Lake, West Loon Lake, Little Silver Lake, and Redwing Marsh.

Rapid development means serious consequences for the Watershed.

The villages within the Sequoit Creek watershed are approving rapid development, and the environmental consequences for the Watershed are serious and complex.

Poorly planned development has impacted the environment in the area, and the prospect of continued growth, especially if done in the same manner, poses threats to the air, water, and habitat around the watershed.

We can and should expect better in the future from the leaders of our local governments to protect quality of life in the area. Presently we have no precise way to predict the consequences of this growth for these waters, and facilities promised to protect our waters from development are often insufficient, or fail.


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Along with the new and future development comes an increase in the amount of impervious surface that will not only intensify runoff volumes, but will also increase the amount of pollutants that it will introduce into the watershed.

Monitoring takes just a small time commitment.

By monitoring biological and chemical indicators of the lakes and streams in the watershed, we can reveal whether development harms the Sequoit lakes and streams, and how.

The Woods and Wetlands group is looking for volunteers to become Water Sentinels to help us monitor the watershed. We are planning a bus tour for Saturday, April 2nd to survey the watershed and choose places where monitoring might reveal a solvable problem. We invite members from across Lake County to join us on this tour to learn about watershed impacts, and consider helping to protect a Sequoit stream or lake. The tour will include demonstrations of some monitoring methods, and a picnic lunch.

Monitoring chemicals in the water can tell the story

The Water Sentinels program has proven successful with other Club Groups in our region. Water Sentinels volunteers will receive training, and then be paired up and assigned to one or more monitoring sites. Monitoring will take as little as a half a day each season, to a few hours each month, to as often as a few hours following significant rain events, and be flexibly planned by the teams. To collect meaningful data, this program will last two years, and for consistent data, we need some volunteers who intend to stick around for the duration.

Those wishing to take part in the tour should contact John Massman, Conservation Chair via e-mail or by phone at 847-838-9440 by January 31 to reserve a seat.


Outings Committee 2005 SurveyReturn to Top
by Evan Craig, Outings Chair

The Woods & Wetlands Outings Committee is off to a “rocky” start. Our December outing to Rollins Savanna featured a delicious batch of stone soup, and was an enjoyable success!

The outing was the premier event for our new  committee, which first met in November, and served as a training opportunity for our aspiring new leaders.

The committee hopes more W&W members will join our fun group and become outing friends.

We are putting together a calendar of monthly outings for 2005, and we'd like your input so that you sign up for the outings that we plan.


So… What do you want to do? Canoeing? Backpacking? Hiking? Tree ID? Clean-up facility Tour? Family activities? Meet for coffee? What else?

Please visit our Outings page, and take the survey before our January 18 meeting.

While you’re there, consider signing onto the Outings List to be among the first to learn about our new outings.

If you have outing ideas or requests, please contact Barbara Bell at 847-367-4253.

See you on the trail!


PDA Readable W&W News Return to Top

Here's a handy version of this issue of the W&W News in pdf that reads well on a PDA (Portable Data Assistant, a.k.a "Palm Pilot"). It's 618kB and you'll need the Adobe Acrobat translator to prepare it for synchronization with your PDA (it's 402kB on Palm OS). If you want to give a copy to a friend who has a PDA, we suggest beaming it over. Another option for taking this on your PDA is AvantGo, a free service that lets you download and synch web pages with your PDA. Just have it synch this one from http://illinois.sierraclub.org/w&w/wwnews/WWNewsletter40.html .


Printable pdf W&W News Return to Top

Here's the printed version of this issue of the W&W News in pdf. It's 691 kB and you'll need Adobe Acrobat to view it. If you want to give a copy to a friend who doesn't have internet access, we suggest printing this pdf rather than this web page.

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