Volunteers helping to Re-green Lake Co. preserves

By Mick Zawislak
Chicago, IL (October 12, 2009)- On many weekends over the past 25 years, Tom Smith has led volunteers in never ending efforts to improve the forest preserves in Lake County. In one sense, October is no different, with a series of workdays scheduled in various locations. But in the bigger picture, Lake County’s efforts are among hundreds of “re-greening” activities throughout the U.S. in October as part of National NeighborWoods Month, promoted by the nonprofit Alliance for Community Trees.

The Alliance for Community Trees is a coalition of 150 organizations engaged in urban and community forestry. “Having local organizations like Lake County Forest Preserves participate in National NeighborWoods Month helps us show the cumulative effect of a burgeoning urban and community forestry movement,” according to Alice Ewen Walker, executive director.
NeighborWoods Month is sponsored through a grant from the Home Depot Foundation.
On Sunday, it was business as usual for Lake County volunteers, who planted shrubs at Marl Flat in Volo. Most of the work at various locations this month will focus on seed collecting, said Smith, a land management technician for the forest preserve district. Though seeds can be purchased and planted in areas to be restored, native offerings have a better chance of taking hold. “The reason we like to collect the seed (on site) is because it’s from the genus of plants that have grown here for hundreds of years,” Smith said. “The mission is to preserve and enhance biodiversity.”
Smith said that when he started working in the forest preserves, there were only a few regular volunteers. The number has grown considerably with the creation of a regional volunteer stewardship network. In 2008, about 2,500 different individuals volunteered at Lake County preserves, he said.
The following are upcoming workdays where volunteers can work from 9 a.m. to noon:
* Sunday, Oct. 18: Berkeley Prairie in Highland Park, Buffalo Creek in Buffalo Grove, Captain Daniel Wright Woods in Mettawa and Heron Creek in Long Grove.
* Saturday, Oct. 24: Middlefork Savanna in Lake Forest and Ryerson Conservation Area in Riverwoods.
* A workday also is scheduled for noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24 at Captain Daniel Wright Woods.
For more information, contact Tom Smith at (847) 968-3329.
Related Resources:
Daily Herald- Volunteers helping to Re-green Lake Co. preserves
Lake County Forest Preserves