Tallgrass Restoration
A Tallgrass Legacy
 Summertime! 
July, 2009 - Vol 1, Issue 3
Quick Links
 
Greetings! 
Tallgrass logo
Welcome to our summer newsletter. I am a few minutes early for a meeting of the new cooperative weed management area, called the Invasive Removal Squad for Rock, Green, and Jefferson Counties and am writing this greeting at the Dorothy Carnes County Park in Jefferson, Wisconsin. It is about 85F, sunny with airy, transparent clouds. There is a nice breeze furrowing through the prairie.
 
I hope you enjoy the newsletter and we ask that you please send us any ideas, announcements, success stories, conferences, workshops or other special events that you would like to have included in any future newsletter. We will be glad to help you get the word out. "A Tallgrass Legacy" will come out quarterly each January, April, July and October.

Enjoy your summer, and don't forget to visit your local parks - very relaxing!
 
 - Linda Yunker, Editor
In This Issue...
A Day of Service: Prairie Crossing Charter School and Tallgrass Restoration
Monday, May 18th ended up being a beautiful day, not only because the sun was shining, but because Tallgrass loaded up an assortment of native plants and mulch to head over to Prairie Crossing Charter School in Grayslake. More...
 
Tallgrass Sponsors University of Chicago and Chicago Wilderness with a Metcalf Fellows Program Intern
The Jeff Metcalf Fellows Program was established in 1997 in honor of Harold "Jeff" Metcalf who was Dean of Students at the Graduate School of Business from 1956 to 1975 and Director of Athletics from 1976 to 1981. He was a mentor and friend to students and had a profound impact on their lives and careers. The program started in 1977 with eight internships and has grown to over 230 at more than 180 organizations annually. More...
 
The Phenology of Restoration
 
Phenology is a segment of ecology focusing on the study of periodic plant and animal-life cycle events that are influenced by climate and seasonal change in the environment. Phenological events have been recorded since 1936 by Aldo Leopold at the Leopold family farm and shack. More...
 
The Plant Corner 
Welcome to the plant corner. We all work towards the eradication of invasive species and invasive weed control management. It is the purpose of this section of the newsletter to promote the use of native plants as well as educate about invasive species. More...
 
Tallgrass Farm: Invader Crusader Award
On May 30, 2009, Peter Layton, Tallgrass owner and CEO, received the Invader Crusader Award from the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council at the Invasive Plants Association of Wisconsin's  annual dinner. The honor was given to Pete for his restoration activities at Tallgrass Farm in Milton Wisconsin. More...
 
Personal Enrichment Day (PED)
 
On May 9, 2009, Tallgrass employees attended a tour of Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, IL. The tour was lead by Mel and Rick Manner, site stewards for the Fen and members of Friends of the Fen. Bluff Spring Fen is a 100 acre Illinois Nature Preserve in Elgin, IL named for its rich, calcareous fens. More...
 
Phosphorus Ban: You Go Wisconsin! 
The Clean Lakes Bill was passed in February 2009, prohibiting the display, sale, and use of lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus in the state of Wisconsin. Phosphorus, a common ingredient in lawn fertilizer, is the chemical that creates the green smelly layer on the top of lakes and detention ponds. More...
 
Partner in Conservation
Valley Lakes is located in the Village of Round Lake, Lake County, Illinois. Tallgrass has been working with Valley Lakes since 2006 to restore and enhance over 273 acres of wetlands and 21 stormwater ponds (14,916 linear feet of shoreline) all interconnected flowing out to Squaw Creek and into Long Lake. More...
 
Bird Boxes and Tern Platforms for Sale
 
If you are interested in wildlife enhancements for your natural areas or backyards, Tallgrass can build and install bird boxes and tern platforms for any site or project. More...
 
Book Review and Recommendations 
Miracle Under the Oaks, The Revival of Nature In America by William K. Stevens gives a detailed yet story-like description of the events surrounding Stephen Packard and the formation of the North Branch Restoration Project. More...

 

A Day of Service: Prairie Crossing Charter School and Tallgrass Restoration
By Noelle Hoeffner
 
Monday, May 18th ended up being a beautiful day, not only because the sun was shining, but because Tallgrass loaded up an assortment of native plants and mulch to head over to Prairie Crossing Charter School in Grayslake. 

Grade school teachers Heather Spinney and Christine Jeffery, along with their first grade students, joined Doug DeWitt, Project Ecologist, and Tallgrass Restoration technicians in planting hundreds of native plants in two native gardens outside their classrooms. By providing the students the chance to learn more about native plant species using a hands-on approach, it helps them connect with nature and their schoolyard prairie.
 
Prairie1
Photo by Prairie Crossing Charter School
 
Tallgrass is a partner with the Charter School providing technical assistance for their schoolyard habitat project. This opportunity allows Tallgrass to help out the community and educate the public about the benefits of our products and services, and, it just feels good. 
Everyone took back something from their experience that day, whether it was learning about the prairie or meeting the kids and being the recipient of their kindness while improving their schoolyard habitat.  The best part is that the children will be able to see the effects of their labors by monitoring the changes in their prairie season after season, year after year.
 
Prairie2
Photo by Prairie Crossing Charter School
 

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Tallgrass Sponsors University of Chicago and Chicago Wilderness with a Metcalf Fellows Program Intern
The Jeff Metcalf Fellows Program was established in 1997 in honor of Harold "Jeff" Metcalf who was Dean of Students at the Graduate School of Business from 1956 to 1975 and Director of Athletics from 1976 to 1981. He was a mentor and friend to students and had a profound impact on their lives and careers. The program started in 1977 with eight internships and has grown to over 230 at more than 180 organizations annually.

In supporting career development for more than 1000 Metcalf Fellows, it has remained true to the goal of keeping the spirit of Jeff Metcalf's work alive and has strengthened the university community in the process. Metcalf Fellows explore career fields and gain experience which increases marketability and value for future internships and jobs.
 
Tallgrass Restoration has sponsored a Metcalf Fellows intern for Chicago Wilderness (CW) to benefit the work of CW staff by providing support to the Leave No Child Inside (LNCI) initiative. Emily Chase is a third-year student at the University of Chicago studying political science and environmental studies. She has impressive communication and project management skills from working as a supervisor for the University of Chicago Telefund as well as chair and moderator for the Model United Nations program. 
 
Emily will provide assistance to several collaborative LNCI programs. She has connected with CW members during the June LNCI Month publicity effort, and will help to coordinate workshops or other events that will bring together LNCI partners in the environmental, health, arts, and early childhood education sectors. Emily will represent CW and the LNCI initiative at public outreach events such as the Millennium Park Family Fun Tent Week. 
 
Tallgrass is proud to lend its support to the LNCI initiative, CW, and the University of Chicago's internship program. It is fulfilling to be a partner in the training of our future conservation leaders.

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The Phenology of Restoration
By Linda Yunker

Phenology is a segment of ecology focusing on the study of periodic plant and animal-life cycle events that are influenced by climate and seasonal change in the environment. Phenological events have been recorded since 1936 by Aldo Leopold at the Leopold family farm and shack. 
 
Quotes from: A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo Leopold. 
 
July: "Every July I watch eagerly a certain country graveyard that I pass in driving to and from my farm. It is time for a prairie birthday, and in one corner of this graveyard lives a surviving celebrant of that once important event. It is an ordinary graveyard, bordered by usual spruces, and studded with the usual pink granite or white marble headstones, each with the usual Sunday bouquet of red or pink geraniums. It is extraordinary only in being triangular instead of square, and in harboring, within the sharp angle of its fence, a pin-point remnant of the native prairie on which the graveyard was established in the 1840's. Heretofore unreachable by scythe or mower, this yard-square relic of original Wisconsin gives birth, each July, to a man-high stalk of compass plant or cutleaf Silphium, spangled with saucer-sized yellow blooms resembling sunflowers. It is the sole remnant of this plant along this highway, and perhaps the sole remnant in the western half of our county. What a thousand acres of Silphiums looked like when they tickled the bellies of the buffalo is a question never again to be answered, and perhaps not even asked."
 
 
July's weather is hot and humid for the field crews. Safety meetings revolve around recognizing heat stroke, sunburns, and protection from mosquitoes and deer ticks. The Operations Department has stocked up sunscreen, bug spray, and refilled the first aid kits. The crews are going out earlier in order to take advantage of the coolest part of the day. The installation season has slowed down and the major planting jobs are completed until September when they will pick up again. It is now the season of stewardship.
 
During the past 20 years or so of the native restoration movement there were many problems with prairie installations due to the lack of maintenance or as we prefer to call it, stewardship. Without a multi-year stewardship plan, the native plants struggle to compete with the invasive seed banks embedded in the soil. Native plants need time to develop their extensive root systems. An old adage about native plantings states "the first year they sleep, the second year they creep, the third year they leap."
 
Native plants have been touted as needing less maintenance once established therefore costing less than turf grass. We know at Tallgrass that the stewardship of native plants for the first three years is critical for the successful establishment of native plants. Given the proper stewardship activities, the blooms will become more abundant and the plants will have amazing strength. Once established, the natives will begin to out compete the weeds and produce their own seed bank. Until that time, the crews will visit project sites three to six times a year to ensure they receive the time and space they need to become established. Like all gardens, native landscapes require maintenance because of the presence of invasive weeds. 
 
PH1
Photo by Tallgrass Staff
 
Tallgrass technicians will go from site to site to monitor the native plantings and ensure their survival. Stewardship visits consists of herbiciding and/or mowing. The crews will mow or pull the weeds by hand. Herbiciding is done either by handwicking individual weeds or spot herbiciding. Sometimes on larger acreages they will use a broadcast method of spraying the herbicide. All Tallgrass restoration technicians are licensed to apply herbicide. In Illinois, the foreman will hold a license as an herbicide applicator. This certification is broken down into training for rights-a-way, aquatic and forestry applications. The rest of the crew members will be certified as herbicide operators. In Wisconsin, there is one designation of herbicide applicator in the training of turf and landscape. 
 
PH2
Photo by Tallgrass Staff
 
In July, an American holiday comes and goes, staff discuss family parties, hiking trips, volunteer workdays, and summer vacations, then go back to work on creating estimates and proposals, invoicing, researching, writing, creating, repairing, ordering supplies and being involved in the day to day needs of Tallgrass Restoration.
 
On July 11, 2009, Tallgrass Farm and our Milton, Wisconsin office will host our third annual Prairie Open House. Last year 100 people came out for the show. The prairie, which is in its sixth year, was gorgeous and the prairie tours showed off the restoration of a 10-acre oak savanna. With the generous help of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Landowner Incentive Program, the savanna was cleared of invasive and undesirable woody species and planted with a savanna mix of native seeds. The wetlands also benefited seeing reed canary grass removal starting and additional seeding done.
 
The crowd was treated to a raptor demonstration and everyone received a native plant or two to show our appreciation for coming out for a tour and to promote the use of native plants.
 
We continue to gaze out the window of our office for the birds and enjoy watching the bees, butterflies and life in general in our front yard prairie. Purple and white blooms blow in the wind tantalizing the hummingbirds. The prairie is in its fourth year, the native plants are strong and beautiful - a striking contrast to the mowed lawns in the industrial park.
 
PH3
Photo by Doug DeWitt
 
Sometime during the week of Independence Day, the Wisconsin crew will head over to County Line Prairie to look for the endangered White Fringed Prairie Orchid in bloom. Not only will they map and record all the existing and new plants, but they will bring fencing and flagging materials with them to guard the plants from the deer and mark where the plants are for the following year's monitoring.

 
August: The Green Pasture: "Like other artists, my river is temperamental; there is no predicting when the mood to paint will come upon him, or how long it will last. But in midsummer, when the great white fleets cruise the sky for day after flawless day, it is worth strolling down to the sandbars just to see whether he has been at work."
 
The beginning of August sees the crews installing tree and shrubs again. They continue with stewardship visits to control invasive weeds. In August the battle against phragmites and cattails in the wetlands continues. It is still hot out there for the crews, with the August storms making things pretty muggy. There is pride in their work, joy in the efforts, and yet they are looking forward to cooler weather.
 
In Milton, the wetlands on Tallgrass Farm are seeing some benefits of the battle against reed canary grass. This will require ongoing weed control methods to beat this beast.
 
Here in the office we are busy meeting with clients, finishing current projects, starting new ones, taking a look at insurance benefits and getting ready for the yearly enrollment period. We are talking to our 401K administrator and getting advice. There are employee evaluations being conducted and sales meetings to attend. 
 
We are going through a redesign of our marketing materials, looking for green printers, and comparing prices. We will update some materials and create new ones that compliment the Tallgrass tradition of creating beautiful yet useful marketing materials. This will be an ongoing process looking at all aspects of marketing and public relations and bumping it up a notch. It has been fun to be a part of this creative group.
 
The Operations Department is working on clients' projects, helping out in both Wisconsin and Illinois, running the heavy equipment, making sure the repairs are done quickly and that the equipment is back in the field in a timely manner. Safety inspections are ongoing and fleet maintenance is being started for the trucks and trailers. They continue the regular safety meetings, providing orientation for new employees, and even filling the bird feeders when requested.
 
Some say these are the hot and lazy days of summer. When the work day ends and the crews are unloading the trucks and getting ready to call it a day, we refer to them as the hot and smelly days of summer. Even the project managers can be pretty sweaty when they come back to the office after walking or monitoring a project site.
 
Our prairies in Schaumburg and Milton are turning yellow as the summer nears its end. The front yard prairie will be blooming with coreopsis, yellow coneflower, compass plants, prairie dock, and black-eyed susans. The insect population seems to flourish during this season, but we know that is a good thing, as it is the circle of life, or at least the continuation of plant life.
 
PH4 
Picture by Jim Yunker
 
September: The Choral Copse: "By September, the day breaks with little help from the birds. A song sparrow may give a half-hearted song, a woodcock may twitter overhead en route to his daytime thicket, a barred owl may terminate the night's argument with one last wavering call, but few other birds have anything to say or sing about. It is on some, but not all, of these misty autumn daybreaks that one may hear the chorus of the quail. The silence is suddenly broken by a dozen contralto voices, no longer able to restrain their praise of the day to come. After a brief minute or two, the music closes as suddenly as it began."
 
We are three quarters of the way through our ecological and fiscal year. The crews continue to install trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. Phragmites and cattails continue to be battled in the wetlands and along shorelines. Brush clearing is moving up in priority and detention ponds are being retrofitted to naturalized shorelines.
 
The Design Department is assisting with the new marketing materials as well as seeing growth in their client base. The design work is very good and a great compliment to Tallgrass' products and services. As a marketing team we are progressing very well and are excited to roll out the new marketing pieces.
 
Over this past winter, staff has prepared two new educational programs. One is on the costs to homeowners associations on managing their natural areas using the case study of Valley Lakes. The program highlights the restoration, stewardship, and costs involved. The PowerPoint program documents that native landscaping and restoration does not add costs to the homeowners but reallocates those landscaping costs. A generic program on native plants was also drafted that will focus on commonly used plants of restoration for woodlands, wetlands, and prairies. Project ecologists are invited to present at workshops and conferences, and we use this information as part of our educational process.
 
By the end of the month, the cycle of the burn season begins again. The burn bosses start planning the fall burns by making sure everyone has been trained properly and reinforcing issues on safety as well as technique. The burns are prioritized, permits were applied for in July and the local fire departments will be contacted.
 
Professional development is ongoing as staff attends training sessions and workshops, keep their certifications current, and provide outreach assistance to different community groups.
 
Those using the picnic table out back for lunches enjoy watching the white-tailed deer, great blue herons, and white egrets looking for lunch themselves, while keeping a close eye on the human presence surrounding them. With any luck, we will spot a buck displaying its large rack of antlers. At the Milton office, staff is taking note of bucks sighted on the Farm in anticipation of the hunting season. The days grow shorter and the temperatures are cooler. This is a great time to work outdoors and be a restoration technician. 
 
Deer
Photo by Jordan Rowe
 
The front yard prairie moves slowly in the warm breeze. Their seeds are starting to develop as the blooms begin to fall away. The goldenrods and asters begin to appear and bloom. The leaves on the trees will begin to turn color, and its time for some of our summer inhabitants to begin contemplating their migratory trips. As Tallgrass continues to promote the importance of using native plantings in gardens as well as in natural areas, we find that we will take a moment to observe the life around us and have enjoyed our summer.
 
To be continued this fall. . .
 

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The Plant Corner
Welcome to the plant corner. We all work towards the eradication of invasive species and invasive weed control management. It is the purpose of this section of the newsletter to promote the use of native plants as well as educate about invasive species.
 
Invasive non-native plants are a serious threat to native species, communities, and ecosystems. They compete with and displace native plants, animals, and other organisms. They alter ecosystem functions and cycles significantly, hybridize with native species, and promote other invaders. 

Native
Obedient Plant Physostegia virginiana
 
Obedient
Photo by Doug DeWitt
 
This plant has many habitats ranging from wet prairies and shorelines to mesic and dry prairies and savannas. It flowers from July to October and the blooms are white to light pink. It grows in clusters on the flower stalk on the top of and up to, the 4' tall plant. Leaves are opposite and fairly thick and leathery. They are toothed at the margins and these fine teeth appear pale, almost white.
 
Obedient Plant gets its name from the fact that you can push the flowers around to any position and they will stay there. There are two subspecies in our area which may account for the wide variety of habitat preferences.
 
Invasive
Canada Thistle Cirsium arvense
 
Thistle
Photo by Doug DeWitt
 
Canada thistle grows in meadows, prairies, fields, pastures, and waste places. It is a colony forming perennial with an average height of 2-5 feet. Leaves are irregularly lobed, developing into triangular indentations with age and have spiny margins. Upper surface of mature leaves are dark green and hairless, while the lower surface is light green and maybe with or without hairs. Flower heads are numerous, " to 1 " in diameter, and are composed of pink, purple, and rarely white disk flowers surrounded by spineless bracts. Flowers are present from June through August.
 
Canada thistle has a strong root system which makes it difficult to control. Horizontal roots may extend 15 feet or more and vertical roots may grow 6 to 15 feet deep. Canada thistle emerges from its root system in mid to late spring and forms rosettes. The greatest flush of root-derived plants occurs in spring, but another flush occurs in fall. A flush can occur anytime during the growing season when soil moisture is adequate. This is a particular problem when its growth is disturbed by tillage or herbicides. It may produce 1,000 to 1,500 seeds per flowering shoot. Seed can remain viable in soil up to 20 years and deep burial promotes survival longevity. Canada thistle was introduced in the United States, probably by accident, in the early 1600s and by 1954, had been declared a noxious weed in 43 states. In Canada and the U.S., it is considered one of the most tenacious and economically important agricultural weeds, but in recent years it has been recognized as a problem in natural areas.
 
The key to Canada thistle control is to stress the plant and force it to use stored root nutrients. It can recover from almost any stress, including control attempts, because of the root nutrient stores. Success requires a sound management plan implemented over several years. Mowing or cutting it does not harm the plant unless repeated on a regular basis so that the root reserves are used up. Mowing or cutting will stimulate growth and is best combined with a follow-up application of a systemic herbicide when new growth begins.
 

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Tallgrass Farm: Invader Crusader Award
On May 30, 2009, Tallgrass owner and CEO, Peter Layton received the Invader Crusader Award from the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council at the Invasive Plants Association of Wisconsin's  annual dinner. The honor was given to Pete for his restoration activities at Tallgrass Farm in Milton Wisconsin.

 In January 2003, after learning that the land was going to be zoned for commercial development, Pete purchased the farm from the Kidder family through an auction. Shortly following the Kidder farm acquisition, Tallgrass Farm was expanded by annexing parcels of the old Loughboroug and Meyer Farms. Roughly 50 acres were annexed to bring the Farm's acreage to 220.

One-half mile down the road is another one of Pete's properties, County Line, which is just off Highway 26. This 50 acre property has seen the removal of buckthorn, garlic mustard, and sweet clover among many other invasive species. It hosts the Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid. The property is adjacent to two state natural areas, Fair Meadows and the Van Altena property which are home to larger populations of the orchid.

During the past few years, Pete has restored 270 acres of oak savanna, tallgrass prairie, and wetlands beginning with the removal of invasive species and initiating a species control plan for these two properties.

Both Tallgrass Farm and County Line are in the Lake Koshkonong and Rock River watersheds, and the Lake Koshkonong Important Bird Area. In December 2007, a conservation easement held by The Prairie Enthusiasts, was established on the Farm.

Each summer, the Farm is opened up to the public for a Prairie Open House that includes educational programs and prairie tours. Michigan Tech is using the prairies for a research project on biofuels and its affects on avarian and insect populations. The land is also used to release rehabilitated raptors by Hoo's Woods and Dianne Moller.

Pete is a member of the Lake Koshkonong Wetlands Association, the Rock-Koshkonong Lake District and sits on the Executive Committee of Chicago Wilderness.

Pete believes in having his company and staff involved in local community groups for professional development as well as providing resources for these groups. Under his leadership, Tallgrass Restoration is an extension of his commitment to restoration and to Wisconsin's important land areas. Congratulations Pete and to our Milton office staff, we are very proud of you.

 

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By Linda Yunker
 
On May 9, 2009, Tallgrass employees attended a tour of Bluff Spring Fen in Elgin, IL. The tour was lead by Mel and Rick Manner, site stewards for the Fen and members of Friends of the Fen. Bluff Spring Fen is a 100 acre Illinois Nature Preserve in Elgin, IL named for its rich, calcareous fens. These rare wetlands are fed by springs coming up through the ground bringing mineral-rich waters. This alkaline water comes out of the ground at about 50 degrees, keeping the springs and streams flowing year round, and supporting animals and specialized plants that are adapted to these conditions. 
 
Fen1
Photo by Jim Yunker
 
The Fen is not just the wetlands. It is a habitat system of prairies, savannas, wetlands, and woodlands. There are two types of savannas; oak-hickory and red oak. Rare and endangered species can be found here such as the Small White Lady's Slipper Orchids, the Baltimore Checkerspot Butterflies, and the Elfin Skimmer Dragonflies. To date over 450 plant species, 57 butterfly species, more than 20 dragonfly species, and almost 100 bird species have been recorded at the Fen.
 
The tour ended with a picnic lunch at Bluff City Boulevard Cemetery that is the entrance to the Fen. Twice a year, Tallgrass organizes outings for employees that are about education and inspiration. Families are invited to participate as well. 
 
Fen2
Photo by Jim Yunker
 
Past PEDs include the Leopold Education Project hosted at Max McGraw, plant identification tours at several local forest preserve sites, and an Eden's Lost and Found workshop with Deb Perryman at Elgin High School.
 
You can find out more about Bluff Spring Fen at www.bluffspringfen.org. Friends of the Fen is a 501(c)3 charitable organization. For more information contact Mel Manner at bluffspringfen@sbcglobal.net
 
Fen
Photo by Jim Yunker

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By Noelle Hoeffner
 
The Clean Lakes Bill was passed in February 2009, prohibiting the display, sale, and use of lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus in the state of Wisconsin.  Phosphorus, a common ingredient in lawn fertilizer, is the chemical that creates the green smelly layer on the top of lakes and detention ponds.  This suffocates game fish and chokes out native plants. 
 
It takes 20 parts per million (ppm) of soil phosphorus to grow healthy turf grass; 25 parts per billion (a quantity 1000 times smaller) can promote excessive algae growth in lakes. Preventing even small amounts of phosphorus from getting into the water can make a big difference (Wisconsin Association of Lakes).
 
There are ways to reduce the amount of phosphorus that enter our lakes, ponds and streams.  Do your part in preventing organic matter from getting into the water.  Clean up pet waste, purchase phosphorus-free fertilizers, and lastly, do not litter!  Homeowners can discourage geese from visiting their properties by planting native buffers along the shoreline.  Geese do not like to walk through these areas in fear of predators lurking within the tall grasses. 
 
The number one way to reduce phosphorus in our water is to not use phosphorus in the first place.  There are now many phosphorus free fertilizers on the market. In fact, many Villages in Illinois now restrict the use of phosphorus on lawns. One of the many benefits of native plants is that there is no fertilizer needed.  That means fewer chemicals running into Illinois and Wisconsin's lakes and streams.  Consider alternatives for your fertilizer if it contains phosphorus, especially if you live near a lake, pond, or stream. 
 
 

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Valley Lakes Community Association
 
Valley Lakes is located in the Village of Round Lake, Lake County, Illinois. Tallgrass has been working with Valley Lakes since 2006 to restore and enhance over 273 acres of wetlands and 21 stormwater ponds (14,916 linear feet of shoreline) all interconnected flowing out to Squaw Creek and into Long Lake. The restoration began with the two shoreline retrofitting projects. Then in late 2006, 36 acres of high quality, remnant wetland was entered in the Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program (WHIP). This conservation cost-share agreement enabled Valley Lakes' residents to clear invasive and undesirable woody species in the wetland and to conduct a prescribed burn in the fall of 2007. The natural communities restored include shrubland, sedge meadow, emergent wetland, prairie, dry-mesic woodland and forested wetlands. 
 
VL1 
Photo by Mark Micek
 
Tallgrass has created restoration management plans for the six wetlands that are located within the subdivision, and Mud Lake Wetland that runs alongside of the subdivision which is a 200-acre wetland complex owned by the homeowners. From those plans, the Community Association contracts Tallgrass for yearly stewardship visits to work on invasive species control in areas that have been restored or retrofitted.
 
In 2007, Valley Lakes Community Association was the recipient of the Chicago Wilderness and U.S. EPA's Native Landscaping and Conservation Award as well as the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission's Stormwater Development of the Year. In addition, four more pond shorelines were converted to native plantings.
 
In 2008, two ponds adjacent to the WHIP wetlands received the Lake County Watershed Management Board cost-share grant to retrofit the ponds to native shorelines to enhance the functions and values of the wetlands, bringing the total retrofitted ponds to 9 out of 21.
 
In 2008, five additional acres of the wetland system were cleaned up and planted with native seed. The natural communities here consist of savanna, emergent wetland, sedge meadow, and prairie. Using an integrated weed control management system that focuses on the control of buckthorn, reed canary grass, sweet clover, and thistle, the plan also calls for targeting tall goldenrod and cattail species because of their aggressive nature.
In addition to the removal of invasives and seeding of the wetlands, there were several areas that were cleaned up. A fallen oak has been sectioned into smaller lengths, possibly to use as firewood. This pile of wood was removed with the rest of the oak tree arranged in such a way as to promote habitat for small mammals and replenish the soil's nutrients. A silt fence was piled in the northeast corner with some concrete pieces that were removed and landscape waste dumped into the wetland was picked up to discourage future dumping.
 
In 2009, Mud Lake received its first prescribed burn to remove the duff to keep it from getting too thick and help the water move through the area. This will work towards reducing the monoculture of cattails and allowing other natives a chance to compete.
The Tallgrass crews built and installed several habitat boxes in the WHIP wetland for wildlife enhancements. The crews installed 10 tern platforms, 4 duck and turtle platforms, 13 house wren boxes, 10 bluebird boxes, 3 chickadee boxes, 8 tree swallows boxes, 4 wood duck boxes, 7 nuthatch boxes, 3 screech owl boxes, 2 bat boxes, and 2 winter roosts. The maintenance of the boxes will be done by Tallgrass as part of Valley Lakes' yearly stewardship contracts for this area.
 
Bird1 
Photo by Mark Micek

Valley Lakes Community Association homeowners are committed to creating a conservation design community that allows the residents to live side-by-side with the wetlands and wildlife. The Association is a member of Chicago Wilderness and has adopted the Squaw Creek Watershed Plan as a tool to implement their restoration activities.
 
Tallgrass technicians take great pride in the work being done at Valley Lakes. The partnership has been a great benefit to Tallgrass, the Community Association and its wetlands as well as for Squaw Creek's water quality and quantity for Lake County.
 
VL2
Photo by Mark Micek

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If you are interested in wildlife enhancements for your natural areas or backyards, Tallgrass can build and install bird boxes and tern platforms for any site or project.
 
Tallgrass ecologists will work with you on the proper time and location for placement of the boxes and platforms to ensure the least amount of disturbance for the nesting birds.
Contact linda.yunker@tallgrassrestoration.com or at 847-925-9830 if you would like additional information on these products and services. 
 
Bird2
Photo by Mark Micek

 
Bird3
Photo by Mark Micek

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By Mark Micek
 
Miracle Under the Oaks, The Revival of Nature In America by William K. Stevens gives a detailed yet story-like description of the events surrounding Stephen Packard and the formation of the North Branch Restoration Project. Through this journey, you will see the political, social and ecological difficulties that were presented and overcome as Packard led the charge to restore Vestal Grove. This process opened many people's eyes to the concept of the savanna as a unique habitat, and not just a transition from prairie to forest.
 
Through all of the challenges, volunteers supported by organizations like the Nature Conservancy were the ones that made this restoration adventure possible. If you wanted to know more about the history of restoration in the Chicago area, this is one great place to start.
 
Other Tallgrass Employee Recommendations:
Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth, William Bryant Logan
A Natural History of the Chicago Region, Joel Greenberg

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Tallgrass Announcements
It's Our River Day, Education, Recreation, and Conservation Celebration 2009 is being hosted by the Flint Creek Watershed Network on Saturday, September 19, 2009 to coincide with the statewide It's Our River Day. The goal of It's Our River Day is to boost awareness of rivers by offering hands-on conservation activities as well as recreational opportunities. This is an initiative of Governor Pat Quinn's started several years ago to bring awareness to Illinois Rivers and waterways. For more information on statewide events, you can call the Governor's office at 217-785-6830 or 312-814-5220 or visit www.cleanwaterillinois.org. For more information on Flint Creek's event, you can visit www.flintcreekwatershed.org.

Looking for a band for an upcoming event? Consider the Garlic Mustard Pickers. Find out more at http://thegarlicmustardpickers.org/index.html. Other selections can be found at http://www.uwex.edu/erc/music.
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Deb Perryman, environmental science teacher at Elgin High School was chosen as Kane County Educator of the Year. Deb was recognized on May 8, 2009 at the Kane County Regional Office of Education's 34th annual ceremony at the Pheasant Run Mega Center. Congratulations Deb, nice work.
 
Global Birding:
If you are an ardent birder, you probably keep your binoculars and field guide handy, in case you can do some birding when you travel. It is not always easy to find the best viewing areas in unfamiliar places or to know exactly what kinds of birds you might encounter. There is now a website, www.birdingpal.org that lists local bird watchers all over the world who will treat you to a birding expedition when you are in their neighborhood. They do it for free-simply to share their passion with others. Volunteers are listed by country, state, town, or region, languages spoken, and availability. You can email them directly to make arrangements for your adventure.

Tallgrass Employee of the Month May 2009: Aaron Hocking, Director of Operations, was named Employee of the Month for May 2009. Aaron's dedication to Tallgrass combined with his work ethic makes him the go to guy for Tallgrass project ecologists, foremen, and work crews to ensure the work is done efficiently and safely. Aaron is always good humored and is fun to be around. Congratulations Aaron for making all our jobs easier.

Tallgrass Employee of the Month June 2009: Willie Bridgeman, Foreman, was named Employee of the Month for June 2009. Willie was instrumental in designing and organizing the new herbicide room and system that will save on waste. He preps everyone's backpack sprayers in the morning and ensures the processes are implemented. With his work ethic and knowledge base, Willie is a vital part of the Tallgrass team.

Tallgrass Anniversaries: July:  Linda Yunker, 3 years; Noelle Hoeffner, 3 years; August: Chris Kaplan, 4 years; Cindy Stagno, 1 year; Troy Showerman, 3 years.
 
Recycle: Habitat for Humanity's ReStore: Located at 800 N. State Street, Elgin, IL ReStore Elgin is a 40,000 square foot building materials reuse center benefiting Habitat for Humanity of Northern Fox Valley. ReStore accepts donated new and gently used goods from retailers, manufacturers, distributors, contractors and homeowners. Building supplies are then sold, at greatly reduced prices, to the general public. The store's operation generates funds to support Habitat's house building program in the northern Fox Valley area, while reducing the amount of material that would otherwise go to overflowing landfills. Visit their website at http://www.restoreelgin.org
 
The Illinois Assembly passed a joint resolution supporting Chicago Wilderness' Outdoor Bill of Rights and officially designating June as "Leave No Child Inside" month in the state of Illinois! The passage of this resolution is an invaluable opportunity for increasing public awareness of the importance of unstructured outdoor play and exploration and promoting members' sites and youth-and-nature programs. You can help promote the Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights and LNCI month! Contact emilian.geczi@chicagowilderness.org to utilize the LNCI logo and other resources available in the LNCI toolkit; promote the Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights and June month with your local media. Contact lucy.hutcherson@chicagowilderness.org to receive copies of the press releases; post the Bill of Rights on your website and include it in your newsletters. For more information on the Leave No Child Inside program you can go to www.chicagowilderness.org. You can also check out the Bill of Rights on our website at www.tallgrassrestoration.com/links.html
 
Bell Museum Build a Prairie, Tallgrass had some fun with this website: http://www.bellmuseum.org/distancelearning/prairie/build/
 
 

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Conferences and Workshops
Elmhurst Green Fest and Cool Cities Coalition, August 1, 2009 at Wilder Park, Elmhurst. Tallgrass will be exhibiting, so stop by and say hello. www.elmhurstgreenfest.org.
 
Fox River Ecosystem Partnerships' Noon Network: September 19, 2009, Valley Lakes Community Association and Tallgrass will host FREP's noon network at the Round Lake Police Department's meeting room. A program will be presented on Valley Lake's pond and wetland restoration project followed up with a tour of this conservation design subdivision and its natural areas. Contact foxriverinfo@comcast.net for more information or Mark Micek at Tallgrass mark.micek@tallgrassrestoration.com.

2009 Midwest Environmental Education Conference: Climbing the Green Wall. October 14-17, 2009, Hotel and Conference Center, Champaign IL. The Environmental Education Association of Illinois invites you to attend the 2009 Midwest EE Conference! The Conference strands of sustainability, natural history, administration, and interpretation have created an amazing conference line up. Visit www.EEAI.net for exhibit opportunities, speaker biographies, registration, and lodging options.

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Tallgrass Contact Information

Illinois
Project Ecologists
  Doug DeWitt           doug.dewitt@tallgrassrestoration.com
  Mark Micek             mark.micek@tallgrassrestoration.com
  Tim Moritz               tim.moritz@tallgrassrestoration.com
  Clayton Wooldridge  clayton.wooldridge@tallgrassrestoration.com
 
Wisconsin
Project Ecologists
  Chris Kaplan           chris.kaplan@tallgrassrestoration.com
  Jordan Rowe           jordan.rowe@tallgrassrestoration.com
 
Illinois and Wisconsin
  Mike Fitzpatrick, President                mike.fitzpatrick@tallgrassrestoration.com
  Linda Yunker, Grant Assistance         linda.yunker@tallgrassrestoration.com
  Noelle Hoeffner, Sales and
            Communications Coordinator    noelle.hoeffner@tallgrassrestoration.com
  Ryan Templeton, Project Designer      ryan.templeton@tallgrassrestoration.com

 
Illinois Office                                     Wisconsin Office
 2221 Hammond Drive                         3129 E. County Road N
 Schaumburg, IL 60173-3813                Milton, WI 53563
 Phone: (847) 925-9830                         Phone: (608) 531-1768
 Fax: (847) 925-9840                             Fax: (608) 531-2227
 


"Tallgrass Restoration is a subsidiary of Tallgrass Group, a company that integrates land and water stewardship focusing on native landscapes and other ecological solutions including landscape design, conservation development, and wetland banking initiatives." 

 
Thank You!
 
We hope you have enjoyed reading this newsletter; we look forward to bringing you more in the upcoming months.
 
Sincerely,
Your Friends at Tallgrass Restoration

 
 Copyright 2009 by Tallgrass Restoration, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

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