Tallgrass Restoration
A Tallgrass LegacyWinter News
Vol. 4 Iss. 1
Greetings!Tallgrass logo

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  The Tallgrass Family sends you and your family our best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2012.

 

Don't hesitate to call Tallgrass if we can be of help with any of your restoration needs in 2012.  Visit our website at www.tallgrassrestoration.com to view some of the services we offer and feel free to call us with any questions or comments. 

Hope you enjoy our first newsletter of 2012 and as always, send any comments, suggestions or thoughts to:

 


 - Your Friends at Tallgrass
  


P.S. We're always up to something interesting here at
Tallgrass. Friend Us! on Facebook to get regular updates.
Facebook


WHAT'S IN A NAME? . . . Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera)
 
Don't let the name fool you - it's not just for Christmas anymore.  The Christmas cactus blooms well before and after Christmas.

HOW DO MAMMALS SURVIVE WINTER? 
 
chipmunkIn our January, 2011 newsletter we reported on what happens to animals in winter and we focused on fish, Canada Geese and butterflies. In this article, we're going to tell you about how some mammals spend the winter. They have three choices: migrate, adapt, and hibernate. 
 
Government Programs 
 
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers through contracts up to a maximum term of ten years in length. These contracts provide financial assistance to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland.

More...

BIRD FEEDERS - TOP 10 FOODS TO USE IN WINTER

  

bird3

In the winter months, birds have a hard time scavenging enough food to survive.  Many bird lovers put out bird feeders to make birds' winter feeding a little easier.  

More... 

 

Tracy's Treats
mac 
Recipes for Buffalo Chicken & Black Bean Wraps and One-Pot Chili Mac are featured in this issue of A Tallgrass Legacy. Give them a try!

 

More... 

More Articles and Links 
 
 
The Plant Corner
 
This edition of The Plant Corner highlights the native species:
 - Wooly Milkweed 

and the Invasive Species:
 - Dame's Rocket

THE ENHANCED EASEMENT INCENTIVE
 
easementIn an earlier edition of this newsletter, we wrote about conservation easements and how they have helped to encourage land conservation.  Since 2006, the Enhanced Easement Incentive has been in effect. 

Prairie 102 - How Were the Prairies Formed?
 
Midwest prairies were formed relatively recently in geologic time.  About 18,000 years ago much of the Midwest was covered by glaciers.   As the glaciers moved through the area, their massive weight and grinding action flattened the soil. 
 

WINTER PRUNING


Now is the time to prune (during your shrubs' dormancy) for many reasons:  less stress is put on your plant, cuts heal faster, disease is easy to spot, and finally there is less chance of transmitting disease.

 

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING IN NORTHERN ILLINOIS & SOUTHERN WISCONSIN ski1

  

Cross country skiing is a great way to get out and enjoy the outdoors in one of the prettiest times of the year. There is nothing to compare with stillness and beauty of a snow covered landscape as one silently glides by.   
            

More...                      

 

Plant I.D. Quiz
 

Take a minute to test your ability to recognize native plants.  The quiz is now "online" - try it as many times as you wish.  Good Luck!

 

More... 

Ask the Ecologist
 
Ask your friendly neighborhood Tallgrass Ecologist that eco-question you've always wanted to ask.
 
More... 
 

WHAT'S IN A NAME? . . . Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera)

  


  
Don't let the name fool you - it's not just for Christmas anymore.  The Christmas cactus blooms well before and after Christmas.  Surprisingly, this cactus thrives better in the cool moist forests of South America rather than in a hot desert.  The Christmas cactus requires little care, and it typically has a long life; it is one of the easiest plants to grow.  The bloom of the Christmas cactus will last longer if kept in a cool room, but don't let it get cooler than 50 degrees otherwise the buds will begin to drop.  Water only when the soil dries out.  Keep the plant evenly moist while in bloom as it will continue to flower longer.  When the plant stops blooming, water less, but continue to keep it in bright light.  When spring arrives, start watering more and add a monthly fertilizer.  Take your plant outdoors and keep it in a shady area for the summer.  At the end of September, bring the Christmas cactus into the house (keep in a sunny location e.g. windowsill) and wait for the buds to open year after year (but not necessarily on December 25th).

 

 

↑ back to top

The Plant Corner

 

In each newsletter, we will highlight one native plant species and one invasive plant species found in our region.   

 

Native
Wooly Milkweed (Asclepias lanuginosa)
  
The Wooly Milkweed is found in dry, sandy or gravelly hillside prairies.  It grows to about 6"-12" in height and has wooly or downy leaves.  It blooms late May - June and fruiting occurs late June - July.  Milkweed is named for its milky juice, which contains alkaloids, latex, and several other complex compounds including cardenolides, which may be toxic to both humans and livestock.  

Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on the underside of healthy young leaves of milkweed plants.  Milkweed plants also provide important nectar sources for bees and other nectar-seeking insects.  

Milkweed plants have an interesting method of pollination.  When bees, wasps and butterflies visit the milkweed plant, their feet fall into slits on the stigma which are designed for this purpose.  When the insect pulls its leg free from the slit, the pollen sacs remain attached to the leg.  

The Wooly Milkweed is a Wisconsin Threatened plant and an Illinois Endangered plant.  Its populations and habitat have been severely reduced by overgrazing and gravel mining.  It is particularly susceptible to local extinction because there are usually only a few plants which rarely produce seed. 

 

Invasive
Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis)
 
    

 

Dame's Rocket is native to Eurasia and has been grown in ornamental gardens since the times of the Roman Empire. It was introduced in North America in the 1600s.  It is easy to understand why it was so valued for ornamental purposes as it is a showy, colorful perennial with loose clusters of fragrant pink, purple or white flowers.  It blooms from May to August on stalks 2'-3' in height. 

The problem with Dame's Rocket is that it is a prolific bloomer and produces large amounts of seed which escape from cultivation quite easily.  Also, since it is not widely recognized as an invasive plant in the Midwest, it is frequently included in wildflower seed mixes which are widely distributed.  Habitats include moist meadows, woodland edges and openings, thickets, semi-shaded fence rows, banks of drainage ditches, vacant lots, edges of yards, and flower gardens. 

 

↑ back to top

HOW DO MAMMALS SURVIVE WINTER?

 

In our January, 2011 newsletter we reported on what happens to animals in winter and we focused on fish, Canada Geese and butterflies.  In this article, we're going to tell you about how some mammals spend the winter.  They have three choices:  migrate, adapt, and hibernate. 


MIGRATE - Travel to other places where the weather is warmer and food can be easily found. Some bats, caribou, elk, and whales travel in search of food each winter, often traveling hundreds of miles each year.

 
caribou 

  

ADAPT - Remain where they are and stay active in the winter.  Some animals grow new, thicker fur in the fall; some fur is white to help them hide in the snow.  Squirrels, mice and beavers gather extra food in the fall and store it for later.  Others (like the Red Fox) change their diets.  In the spring, summer and fall they eat fruit and insects, but when those are not available - as in the winter - they eat small rodents.  
 

 

beaver   fox 

 

 

 

HIBERNATE - Deep sleep.  When animals hibernate, their body temperatures drop and their heartbeats and breathing slow down.  They get ready for winter by eating extra food and storing it as body fat and then use this fat for energy while hibernating. They don't eat food or drink water while hibernating.  Bears, skunks, chipmunks and some bats are a few of the animals that hibernate. 

 

 

skunks       chipmunk

  

  

↑ back to top

   

bedsCROSS COUNTRY SKIING IN NORTHERN ILLINOIS & SOUTHERN WISCONSIN
 

ski1

Cross country skiing is a great way to get out and enjoy the outdoors in one of the prettiest times of the year. There is nothing to compare with stillness and beauty of a snow covered landscape as one silently glides by.   There are many great places to cross country ski in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Whether you prefer hilly or flat terrain, the following sites may be just what you are looking for:

In Illinois:

Mississippi Palisades State Park http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/r1/palisade.htm
The park is located at the confluence of the Mississippi River and Apple River on state route 84 just north of the small town of Savanna, Illinois and just south of Galena, Illinois - about a 2.5 hours drive from Chicago. The name derives from the palisades - defined as a string of lofty steep cliffs usually following a river - which line the Mississippi River. The park is 2,500 acres and has over 15 miles of hiking trails and several spectacular lookouts over the Mississippi.


Rock Cut State Park http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/Landmgt/PARKS/R1/ROCKCUT.HTM
The 3,092 acre park is located near Rockford, Illinois - about a 90 minute drive from Chicago. There are two lakes in the park - one of them, Pierce Lake, is particularly suited for ice fishing and ice skating. Nearby are the Rock River and the place where wagons once forded it. Cross country skis and snowshoes can be rented through the concession located at the Camp Store, for hours and information call 815/885-4740.

 

Forest Preserves
 
Forest Preserves offer many opportunities for cross country skiing close to home. They are great when you don't have a lot of time or aren't sure that the weather will hold. All of the forest preserve districts surrounding Chicago have cross country ski trails. All Cook County Forest Preserve locations (except for nature center and golf courses) offer cross country skiing. For maps of the regions see: http://fpdcc.com/visit-us/maps/division-maps. For a list of preserves where you can cross country ski in Will County Forest Preserve see: http://www.reconnectwithnature.org/recreation/cross-country-skiing.
Lake County locations can be found at: http://www.lcfpd.org/preserves/index.cfm?fuseaction=preserves.viewActDetail&object_id=127. You can even ski at night at the Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda (Lake County) where the trail is lit by solar lights.
DuPage County Forest Preserve lists the winter activities available at each site at: http://www.dupageforest.com/Recreation/ActivitiesAndFacilities/Winter_Activities.html.   Cross country skiing is allowed at all Kane County forest preserves except in areas closed for restoration. For information on those Kane County sites see: http://www.kaneforest.com/recreation/winterActivities.aspx.

Some of our favorite forest preserve sites are: Ryerson in Lake County, Bemis Woods in Cook County, and Fullersburg in DuPage County.

In Wisconsin:

Kettle Moraine State Forest http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/parks/specific/kms/ (Southern Section) & http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/parks/specific/kmn/ (Northern Section)
The Kettle Moraine State Forest in Southeastern Wisconsin is divided into a southern and a northern portion. The trails come highly recommended. The "kettles" for which it is named are large depressions created when huge chunks of ice were buried in the moraine (piles of gravel and debris) deposited by the glaciers. When the ice eventually melted, large holes in the ground remained. As a result, Kettle Moraine State Forest is a beautiful, hilly and tree-filled site. The northern section is hillier than the southern section.

Brownton-Cadiz Springs http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/parks/specific/cadizsprings/index.html
 
Browntown-Cadiz Springs includes two spring-fed lakes and a 600-acre wildlife refuge. It has 7.6 miles of cross- country ski trails and is located in Browntown in Green County, about 7 miles west of Monroe.

 

Black River State Forest http://dnr.wi.gov/forestry/stateforests/SF-BlackRiver/
 
Black River State Forest consists of 66,000 acres of pine and oak forest including two forks of the Black River and high sandstone bluffs in Jackson County - about a 4-5 hour drive from Chicago. There are 24 miles of trails in the park which range from beginner to expert.

So - get out and enjoy the trails! Who knows, you might love it enough that you decide to do the Birkebeiner some day.

 

 ski2

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

THE ENHANCED EASEMENT INCENTIVE

 

easement


In an earlier edition of this newsletter, we wrote about conservation easements and how they have helped to encourage land conservation.  Since 2006, the Enhanced Easement Incentive has been in effect.  It was due to expire in December of 2010, but was extended to December of 2011.  Many in the conservation world hoped and expected it would be extended once again, but it was not.  There is still some hope that it may be extended and made retroactive to December of 2011, as the bills are still pending in Congress.

The Enhanced Easement Incentive tremendously increased the tax benefit available to donors of conservation easements in three main ways:

1. Raised the deduction. Under Section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code, a donor of a conservation easement could deduct a maximum of 30% of his or her adjusted gross income.  The Enhanced Easement Incentive raised that maximum to 50% of the donor's adjusted gross income.  This means that a donor having an adjusted gross income of $80,000 would be able to deduct $40,000 from income rather than $24,000 - a net gain of $16,000 to the donor.

2. Increased deductions for farmers and ranchers.  Under the Enhanced Easement Incentive, qualified farmers and ranchers could deduct up to 100% of his or her adjusted gross income.

3. Extended the time period for taking deduction.  The Enhanced Easement Incentive increased the number of years over which a donor could take a tax deduction for a conservation easement from 6 years to 16 years.  Originally a donor was given 6 years to use the deduction. For donors who did not have a high enough adjusted gross income (and thus not a large enough tax liability) to use the deduction within 6 years, the Enhanced Easement Incentive increased the number of years to take the deduction to 16 years.  This allowed many donors to fully realize the tax deduction of the conservation easement. 

There is still a chance that the Enhanced Easement Incentive will be reinstated and applied retroactively since there are a number of tax items which will require action early this year-any one of which could be the instrument for renewing or making the Enhanced Easement Incentive permanent.  Even without the Enhanced Easement Incentive, the tax, estate and environmental benefits of conservation easements are still enormous.  If you have any questions about conservation easements or wonder if it is right for you, call Tallgrasss Restoration at 847-925-9830 in Schaumburg, Illinois or 608-531-1768 in Milton, Wisconsin.


golfWINTER PRUNING
 

Now is the time to prune (during your shrubs' dormancy) for many reasons:  less stress is put on your plant, cuts heal faster, disease is easy to spot, and finally there is less chance of transmitting disease.  While a severe pruning of most spring blooming shrubs would not be advisable at this time of year, a simple pruning removing all dead wood and broken branches due to storm damage is fine or will not hurt.  However, some spring blooming shrubs like lilacs, privet and yew can be  cut back and still bloom in the spring, although you may sacrifice some blooms.  Always use sharp pruners and make an angled cut above the bud. A jagged edge will hinder healing and could cause disease to spread.  Start preparing your garden now so that your shrubs will bloom come spring.   

 

prune 

↑ back to top


tipsPrairie 102 - How Were the Prairies Formed?  
 

Midwest prairies were formed relatively recently in geologic time.  About 18,000 years ago much of the Midwest was covered by glaciers.   As the glaciers moved through the area, their massive weight and grinding action flattened the soil.  When the glaciers receded about 10,000-12,000 years ago, the huge amounts of melting water helped form river valleys.  The melting waters also carried large amounts of soil and rocks.  These were deposited as they receded.  Once the climate started to become warmer and drier, the vegetation changed from tundra to spruce forest, then to mesic hardwood forest. Finally, about 8,000 years ago the climate became even warmer and drier and the forests died out except along stream banks.  At that time, the prairies spread and became the dominant landscape in Illinois and a portion of Wisconsin. The reason that prairies spread during times of heat and drought is because of the amazing adaptations of prairie vegetation.  Prairie vegetation has deep roots which, once established, can withstand severe drought and heat.  Also, prairie vegetation is adapted to withstand and even benefit from fire - a frequently occurring event in nature.   

 

 

 prairie

 

 

  

 

↑ back to top

  

Government Programs 

 

Introduction - The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers through contracts up to a maximum term of ten years in length. These contracts provide financial assistance to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland.  In addition, a purpose of EQIP is to help producers meet Federal, State, Tribal and local environmental regulations.

 

Who Can Apply - Owners of land in agricultural or forest production or persons who are engaged in livestock, agricultural or forest production on eligible land.

 

How EQIP Works - EQIP provides financial assistance payments to eligible producers based on a portion of the average cost associated with practice implementation. Additional payments may be available to help producers develop conservation plans which are required to obtain financial assistance.

 

NRCS works with the producer to develop a plan of operations that:

include:

  • Identifies the appropriate conservation practice or measures needed to address identified natural resource concerns
  • Implements conservation practices and activities according to an EQIP plan of operations developed in conjunction with the producer that identifies the appropriate conservation practice or measures needed to address identified natural resource concerns. The practices are subject to NRCS technical standards adapted for local conditions

EQIP Application Information - Information about how to apply for assistance through EQIP is available online. Click on the State where the property that you are interested in enrolling in EQIP is located. This will take you to that State's Programs home page, which will link to that State's EQIP page.


Tallgrass Restoration is a full-service restoration company which can, and often does, provide the services required under an EQIP contract.  Please call our offices at 847-925-9830 in Schaumburg, Illinois or 608-531-1768 in Milton, Wisconsin for more information or to set up a time to meet with one of our professional staff to help you enroll in this program.

 

↑ back to top

leadBIRD FEEDERS - TOP 10 FOODS TO USE IN WINTER

 

In the winter months, birds have a hard time scavenging enough food to survive. Many bird lovers put out bird feeders to make birds' winter feeding a little easier. Whatever type of birdfeeder you choose to use, below is a list of the Top 10 Foods that can be added in your bird feeder:

 

  bird3  

 

1.  Black-oil sunflower seed.  This seed is easier to crack and the kernel is larger than a white-or gray-striped sunflower seed's kernel.
2.  Peanuts.  Peanuts are a high-protein, high-energy food and birds seem to flock to the bird feeders that have de-shelled, dry-roasted and unsalted peanuts.
3.  Suet.   Fat is a good source of energy for birds; you can add other foods to your melted down suet (see #10 below) to make dining more pleasurable.
4.  Good, mixed seed.  A good mixed seed contains sunflower seed, cracked corn, and white proso millet rather than a lot of filler.
5.  Niger/thistle seed.  With thistle seed, you will need a specialty feeder.  Small finches-goldfinches, house, purple and Cassin's-, pine siskins and redpolls seem to eagerly consume thistle seed.
6.  Safflower.   Most birds eat the white, thin-shelled, conical seed.
7.  Cracked Corn.  Cracked corn not only attracts bird, but squirrels as well.  So, use in moderation.
8.  Mealworms.  Mealworms are a common food for most feeder birds.  Mealworms can be purchased at bait stores or by mail order.
9.  Fruit.  Place grapes, apple or banana slices in your feeder and watch the birds flock to your yard.
10.  Homemade bird treats.  Smear peanut butter mixed with cornmeal on a tree trunk.  In your suet (before it hardens) add peanut bits, raisins or apple bits.
 

 

↑ back to top

 

 

 

 

golfTracy's Treats

wrap 
  

Buffalo Chicken & Black Bean Wraps

 

1-1/2 lbs chicken, white or dark meat, fully cooked and shredded

8oz bag black beans, prepared as directed (if canned drain but don't rinse)

c prepared buffalo sauce

1/3 c prepared Ranch dressing

2 c lettuce or spring mix

c cheddar cheese, shredded

12 tortillas, any flavor, warmed

 

If chicken isn't still hot from cooking, heat with beans in a medium sauce pan until warm. Add buffalo sauce and heat through. Prepare wraps by first spreading with Ranch dressing. Add lettuce and cheese, top with chicken and bean mix and roll up burrito style.

 

 

 

mac

 

One-Pot Chili Mac 

 

1 lb lean ground beef

1 onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, diced

1 tbl ground cumin

1 tea smoked paprika

1 tea dried oregano

1 tea dried cilantro

chili powder to taste

6 oz tomato paste

15 oz beans, kidney or pinto, rinsed and drained

4 c chicken stock

2 c elbow macaroni

2 c cheddar cheese, shred

2 c tomatoes, chopped

 

 

 

 

Combine beef with onions, pepper and garlic and cook in a large skillet until beef is browned and vegetables are tender. Add spices including chili powder. Add tomato paste, beans, diced tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and add macaroni. Turn to a simmer and cover. Cook until macaroni is tender then add cheese and mix until blended.

 

↑ back to top



Click
HERE to take the Plant ID Quiz!
- PLEASE NOTE: Make sure the initial "Welcome" page fully loads before proceeding with the Quiz.
Click HERE for Ask the Ecologist!
Tallgrass Announcements

 

Anniversaries:

November 2011 - Jim Papa 4 years

December 2011 - Tracy Runice 7 years

January 2012 - Mark Micek 12 years

 

Events:

February 3-4, 2012

Community Associations Institute-Illinois Chapter, Conference & Exposition

Arlington Park Race Track, Arlington Heights, IL

www.cai-illinois.org

 

February 10-12, 2012

Madison Garden Expo

Alliant Center, Madison, WI

www.wigardenexpo.com

 

February 22-23, 2012

Urban Wetlands Conference, by the Wisconsin Wetlands Association

Lake Geneva, WI

www.wisconsinwetlands.org

 

 

 

↑ back to top

 

 
 
More About Tallgrass  
 

Tallgrass Contact Information

 

Illinois

 

Project Ecologists

 

Doug DeWitt

doug.dewitt@tallgrassrestoration.com

Mark Micek

mark.micek@tallgrassrestoration.com

Troy Showerman

troy.showerman@tallgrassrestoration.com

 

 

Wisconsin

 

Project Ecologists

 

Chris Kaplan

chris.kaplan@tallgrassrestoration.com

Jordan Rowe

jordan.rowe@tallgrassrestoration.com

 

 

Illinois and Wisconsin

 

Ron Adams, President

ron.adams@tallgrassrestoration.com

Tracy Runice - Customer Service, General Information, Bonding, Compliance or Insurance 

tracy.runice@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) 551 -2227

 

 

↑ back to top

 

 

 

Thanks for reading the winter issue of A Tallgrass Legacy. Look for our spring issue coming soon!
 
Sincerely,
Your Friends at Tallgrass Restoration


Tallgrass  Facebook  YouTube
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.