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Conservation and Native Landscaping Awards announced

Release Date: 12/06/2005
Contact Information:

EPA CONTACT: Kären Thompson, (312) 353-8547
CHICAGO WILDERNESS CONTACT: Jon Voelz, (708) 485-0263

No. 05-OPA258

Conservation and Native Landscaping Awards announced

CHICAGO (Dec. 6, 2005) - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 and Chicago Wilderness announced the winners of their annual Conservation and Native Landscaping Awards at a Dec. 6 ceremony at Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Ill. The awards recognize outstanding efforts to use native plants within the Chicago Wilderness region. Also recognized are communities and developers that plan and construct residential, commercial or municipal developments in ways that protect the environment.

The winners are:
Village of Villa Park, St. Charles Park District, Cary Park District, Oakbrook Terrace Park District, Morton Arboretum, Chicago Botanic Garden, a partnership of the Chicago Department of Transportation, Chicago Park District and Illinois Department of Transportation, Alps Development, ComEd, Motorola, Abbott, Madison Club Homeowners' Association, Harbor Springs Property Owners' Association and Jack Porter & Associates/ Knickerbocker Properties LLC.

"Native plants provide a beautiful, hardy, low maintenance landscape while benefitting the environment," said Danielle Green of EPA. "Once established, native plants save time and money by eliminating or reducing the need for fertilizers, pesticides, water and lawn maintenance equipment. Natural landscaping also creates habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife."

Chicago Wilderness is a consortium of more than 180 public and private organizations that work together to protect, restore, study and manage the natural ecosystems of the Chicago region. The group's Web site is:

Winner highlights:

Village of Villa Park- The new Villa Park Police Station is one of the nation's few "green" police facilities. Environmental concern, responsibility and conservation drove the design and construction. The new structure and property improves water retention through a green roof, bioretention swales and permeable paving in the parking lot. Native plants eliminate the need for pesticides and increase the aesthetic beauty and air quality of the site. Recycling construction materials diverted over 75 percent of waste from municipal sanitary landfills.

St. Charles Park District- A demonstration garden project along the banks of the Fox River in the St. Charles community has promoted the replacement of typical garden species with native plants to solve drainage issues and encourage wildlife. The goal of education has been reached through public tours that show what native plants are available, best conditions for growing and benefits of natural landscaping.

Cary Park District- The refurbished Jaycee Park now has prairies and wetland areas on what used to be a 30-acre commercial center. The recreational greenway trail system stabilizes shorelines and increases fishing habitat as it winds through park, prairie, wetland and pond settings. The unique layout offers new opportunities for walkers, fishermen, bikers to enjoy the beauty and restorative powers of nature.

Oak Brook Terrace Park District- Lake View Park and Nature Center features a 1/4-acre garden walk in the midst of a towering office building area. Visitors enjoy diverse garden areas (butterfly, water, sensory and teaching)that showcase native plants and natural land management techniques. Located in a floodplain zone, the two-year-old garden walk follows the goals of the area's biodiversity recovery plan fostering a sustainable relationship between society and nature.

Morton Arboretum- The Meadow Lake restoration project in Lisle was designed to curb flooding and improve water quality by reducing storm water runoff and non-point source pollution into the watershed. The lake was enlarged and dredged to retain more water, a new wetland area was established and a permeable parking lot was constructed to reduce storm water entering the DuPage River. The design helps protect properties and water bodies from flooding while cleaning runoff as it flows into Meadow Lake. The design includes drifts of native plant species that provide color and texture throughout the year.

Chicago Botanic Garden- Since 2000, the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe has used 250,000 native plants to restore more than 2.5 miles of critically eroding shoreline. Creative use of stones and boulders, plastic mesh and webbing materials protect aquatic plants and provide rich diversity for frogs, turtles, fish, birds, aquatic insects and other wildlife. Through the School of the Chicago Botanic Garden, courses, workshops and seminars help landscape and conservation professionals learn. Publications, brochures, interpretive signage and a Web site enlighten the public.

Chicago and Illinois Departments of Transportation and Chicago Park District- As part of the South Lakeshore Drive Reconstruction Project, a 3-acre native grassland has been planted next to the historic 63rd Street Beach. The $103 million roadway and sewer construction project included five new landscaped pedestrian underpasses. New native trees, shrubs and grasses replaced plants removed during construction and were designed to resemble a walk through the hills of a back dune.

Alps Development- The Tuscan Hills residential development in Monee was once a farm site with an 8-acre lake filled with debris and undesirable trees and plants. Before construction began the developer identified areas for protection and designed a community plan to improve water quality and habitat through native landscaping. Today home sites back up to open space and residents enjoy an enhanced lake and protected zones.

Commonwealth Edison- ComEd, one of the largest land owners in Illinois initiated a Prairie Program in the 1990's to protect and restore biodiversity, reduce maintenance costs, learn about carbon sequestration and improve community relations. To date the company has worked with various partners to restore more than 150 acres of land to native prairie habitat at thirteen sites in northern Illinois. The Buffalo Grove Prairie, maintained by a partnership with a local stewardship group, was recognized in the 2005 awards.

Motorola- In conjunction with the Schaumburg Biodiversity Project, Motorola embarked on a two-year, three phase plan to restructure and stabilize 6.7 acres on its corporate headquarters property. An interpretive path winding through wetlands and prairie was planted with 40 different flowers and native plants and a drainage ditch and 300-foot stream bed were fortified with coconut logs and native plants and grasses. Employees and the public can view the natural area's health and beauty.

Abbott- Abbott has preserved an expansive area at its corporate campus which provides habitat for the Prairie White-Fringed Orchid, an endangered Illinois prairie species.

Madison Club Homeowners Association- The association has restored and is protecting an oak-hickory savanna and wetland in a Burr Ridge subdivision. Invasive species were removed to make way for 21,000 native plants, 120 native shrubs, osprey nesting structures and bluebird houses. Where soil previously eroded into a pond, wetland plants now stabilize the area and promote ecological health.

Harbor Springs Property Owners Association- By restoring a wetland in an urban Aurora setting, the development has increased land function, abated erosion and put the surrounding population in touch with nature. The wetland also provides habitat for mallards, barn swallows, cormorants, egrets, dragonflies, muskrats and leopard frogs among other wildlife.

Jack Porter & Associates- The Sanctuary of Bull Valley is a 200-acre conservation development with 105 lots in Woodstock. Over 50 percent of the area has been restored to natural oak-hickory savannas and prairies. A partnership of conservation organizations developed a plan for removing invasive woods, shrubs and weeds and has seen results in the return of hawks, bluebirds and other wildlife. Significant forest areas, kettles and low areas are protected in continuous open space.

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