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2009 Conservation and Native Landscaping Awards

Winning Sites for Outstanding Conservation, Native Landscaping, and Sustainable Design Projects

Certificates of Merit were awarded to the following projects:

Several leaders in the conservation community were honored for their outstanding contributions to habitat, and biodiversity conservation in the Chicago Wilderness region:

Grigsby Prairie
(Barrington Hills, IL)

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Grigsby Prairie is over 42 acres and supports 175 species, including eastern meadowlarks, bobolinks, dickcissels, grasshopper sparrows, sedge wrens, king birds, savanna sparrows, and red-headed woodpeckers. Grigsby Prairie serves as a demonstration site and seed source for other local restoration efforts.

Ongoing management is conducted by volunteers.

Deer Hills and Deer Woods, Landmark Development, Inc.
(Belvidere, IL)

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Deer Woods is a residential development that integrates nature as an integral component of the community design. A natural area creates an "ecospine" along the middle of the development; this serves to help filter and clean storm water, create bird habitat, and connect the community to adjacent natural areas and preserves.

The development will be turned over to the Boone County Conservation District once the project is complete. Pizzo and Associates, Ltd. is the project contractor

Brookfield Oak Savanna at Kiwanis Park (Brookfield, IL)

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In 2002, the Village of Brookfield began transforming a 10 acre tract of Village park land in Kiwanis park. In 2005, the Village received a grant from Chicago Wilderness to undertake a professional management study (conducted by Applied Ecological Services, Inc.) and install interpretive signage designed by Oak Park artist Hannah Jennings. Today, the Brookfield Oak Savanna is a suburban oasis containing an ever-increasing mix of native plant and animal species. Ongoing management of the savanna is primarily conducted by a dedicated group of volunteers. 

Bridgeview Court Natural Area
(Bridgeview, IL)

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Bridgeview Court Natural Area is comprised of six acres of moderate to high quality prairie remnant and another six acres of restored prairie. The site is open to the public and will be further improved by the addition of educational signage. 

The project is a collaboration of the US EPA, Village of Bridgeview, Bridgeview Park District, Tallgrass Restoration, LLC, and Pizzo and Associates, Ltd.

Gompers Park Wetland Restoration, Chicago Park District
(Chicago, IL)

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Gompers Park, owned and managed by the Chicago Park District, sits along the North Branch of the Chicago River on Chicago’s northwest side. Of the park’s 39-acres, nearly 8-acres are naturalized habitat. This includes 1.7-acres of edge habitat along the Chicago River, as well as a 3-acre lagoon bordered with native plantings connected by a small stream to 3-acres of prairie and restored wetland habitat.

In 1995 the Chicago Park District recreated a wetland in a low section of the park adjacent to the North Branch of the Chicago River. In 2000, the lagoon, a part of the original park design, was also restored. The natural habitats at Gompers Park support a diverse population of native Illinois flora and fauna and serve as an important stopover point for birds migrating along the Chicago River.

Volunteers are instrumental in the ongoing restoration work at the park; the site is also monitored by citizen scientists for frogs, dragonflies, and butterflies. 

Rainbow Beach and Park, Chicago Park District (Chicago, IL)

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The Chicago Park District restored 11 acres of beach and dune habitat at Rainbow Beach on 77th Street. The site provides habitat for several rare and endangered plant species monitored under the Chicago Botanic Gardens Plants of Concern Program, including marram grass (Ammophilia breviligulata), sand reed (Calamovilfa longifolia), blazing star (Liatris aspera and L. cylindracea), and prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa). The native vegetation of dunes provides a natural filter for rainwater before it flows into Lake Michigan. The site also serves as an important stopover point for migratory birds using the Lake Michigan flyway.

Thorn Creek Conservancy Industrial Park
(Chicago Heights, IL

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The 100-acre Thorn Creek Conservancy Industrial Park is restoring 28 acres of restored native habitat, both wetland and prairie, for wildlife and human benefit. The site will enrich the quality of life of citizens by providing an accessible quality natural area complete with a multi-use looping trail, interpretive signage, and benches. The conservancy will also serve as a “living laboratory” for local school districts to study native habitat systems.

Once restoration is complete, the River Basin Initiative will serve as the long- term preserve manager of the conservation area. The contractor for this project is the Land Resource Management Group (LRMG).

Mill Creek Community Park
(Geneva, IL)

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The Geneva Park District Mill Creek Community Park was recognized for the well-established prairies that have been integrated into the park along with the playground and baseball and soccer fields. The prairie has provided habitat and a nesting area for state threatened wildlife including: the Illinois chorus frog, smooth soft-shell turtle and the black crowned night heron.

Pizzo and Associates. Ltd. is the site contractor.

Wolf Lake Ecosystem Restoration Project (Hammond, IN)

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Wolf Lake is a natural, 800-acre body of water on the Indiana/Illinois border. The lake attracts fishermen, picnickers, birders, boaters, duck hunters, and even windsurfers. The Wolf Lake restoration project, designed by the Chicago District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, sought to improve the overall quality of the lake ecosystem for native species. This was accomplished, in part, by using sand dredged from the lake bottom to create 20 acres of islands. The islands provide valuable habitat for plants and wildlife, including 170 species of birds that utilize the lake.

Butler Lake Ecosystem Restoration
(Libertyville, IL)

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The Butler Lake Ecosystem Restoration project, which began in 2005, involved improving the quality of the lake; enhancing the habitat for fish, birds, butterflies, and insects; restoring adjacent woodland and native prairie, and stabilizing the shoreline. The property is protected through a deed restriction and will remain as open space for the residents of Libertyville and other surrounding communities.

This project was a collaboration of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Village of Libertyville, and JF New and Associates.

Manhattan Creek Stream Restoration Project
(Manhattan, IL)

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The Manhattan Creek Restoration Project involved work to stabilize the bank of upper Manhattan Creek and increase the oxygen content of the water to enhance the aquatic habitat for plants and wildlife. A trail system was also constructed along the outer edge of the restoration project to provide recreational opportunity. The property will be turned over to the Village of Manhattan and The Conservation Foundation for long-term maintenance and care.

V3 Companies, Ltd. provided design, building, and management services for the project. Additional stakeholders include the Village of Manhattan, Manhattan Park District, Centex Homes and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve Stream Restoration, Forest Preserve District of DuPage County
(Naperville, IL)

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Initiated in 2007 and completed in June 2009, the Springbrook Prairie Stream Re-Meandering Project created a more natural stream habitat in approximately two miles of Springbrook Creek and adjacent floodplain, totaling 75 acres. By returning the stream’s twists and turns and creating a wider, shallower bank, water quality is improved by slowing the flow. The project also benefits rare aquatic species and provides improved habitat for wetland birds. The prairie habitat surrounding the stream is home to three state-endangered birds - the northern harrier (Circus cyaneus), short-eared owl (Asio flammeus) and Henslow’s sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii).

This project was a collaboration of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), DuPage County Department of Development and Planning, Christopher B. Burke Engineering, and The Conservation Foundation.

Windham Lakes Southwest, Lily Cache Slough, Panattoni Development Company, LLC, (Romeoville, IL)

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The development of the 220-acre industrial development located south of the I-55 Expressway at Weber Road required the restoration and enhancement of approximately 1.5 miles of the Lily Cache Slough stream corridor just west of Weber Road. The project also enhanced almost 50 acres of wetlands, providing habitat for small fish and aquatic insects, which in turn attracts shore birds including 30 identified bird species and nine bird species listed as Illinois threatened or endangered, including the black-crowned night heron and sandhill crane (Grus canadensis). This is a prime location for bird watchers in the area.

The contractor for this project was V3 Companies, Ltd.

Prairie Village Restoration Project, Fairhaven Retirement Community
(Whitewater, WI)

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The Fairhaven Retirement Community Prairie Village is a 56-acre community of duplex houses designed to surround residents with natural beauty, including restored prairie, wetlands, ponds, and oak forest. During initial construction of the community, great care was taken to preserve the majestic bur oaks growing along Whitewater Creek.

Tallgrass Restoration, LLC is the project contractor.

Leaders in Conservation

Geneva Park District(Geneva, IL

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The Geneva Park District is committed to bringing nature to people throughout the community by restoring and managing native landscapes and incorporating natural areas, green features, and educational programs into park facilities with traditional playground and athletic fields. The Park district has 644 acres of open space, of which 246 acres are restored and managed natural areas. 

The 200-acre Peck Farm has won the Award of Excellence from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for its restoration efforts. At Mill Creek Park, rain gardens are used to capture the runoff from the parking lot and athletic fields to prevent over loading the adjoining Mill Creek with excess water and pollutants. 

Poplar Creek Prairie Stewards
(Hoffman Estates, IL)

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The Poplar Creek Prairie Stewards are dedicated to restoring several habitats, including tall grass prairie, oak-hickory woodland, ponds, sedge meadow, savanna and the Shoe Factory Woods Nature Preserve.

The Stewards hold year-round workdays to remove invasive species, collect seed, and plant. In addition, citizen scientists monitor plant bird, butterfly, and dragonfly populations at the site.  Volunteers recently completed a bird monitoring project to identify likely nesting bird species on the entire 4,200 acres of Poplar Creek Forest Preserve. The Poplar Creek Prairie Stewards also conduct wildflower walks and bird walks for the public.

Steve Swanson, Glenview Park District
(Glenview, IL)

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Steve Swanson has provided thirty years of dedicated service to the Glenview Park District, its biodiversity and natural areas and the surrounding community. As Director of The Grove National Historic Landmark and Nature Preserve since 1979, Steve has worked diligently to improve the health of the site’s woodlands, wetlands and prairies and has helped to develop legislation to protect natural land throughout the area.

Over the years, Steve has reached countless individuals and groups with messages of conservation and the value of our natural resources through new and innovative programming. As a result of his thirty years of dedicated service to the preservation of our natural areas, Steve is known throughout the region and one of the most talented naturalists in the state. 

Certificate of Merit Winners

Coyote Run Golf Course
(Flossmoor, IL)

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Coyote Run Golf Course has developed an ecological management plan through the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program, an education and certification program that helps golf courses protect the environment and preserve the natural heritage of the game of golf. 

Mishawaka Riverwalk
(Mishawaka, IN)

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Mishawaka Riverwalk serves as a model example of sustainable community revitalization through the uses of its naturalized areas. This area is currently being developed into a mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly community with a blend of commercial and residential use. Additionally, this area is connected through a series of bike and walking trails which connect several parks for recreational use.

Holy Spirit Catholic Church
(Naperville, IL)

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The Holy Spirit Catholic Church teaches its parishioners that the stewardship of the Spirit goes hand in hand with the stewardship of the planet. Native plants have been incorporated into the formal landscaping of the grounds.   

Park Ridge Pointe Homeowners Association
(Park Ridge, IL)

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Native landscaping was utilized around the retention pond in order to prevent erosion and reduce the geese population on the property. 

Lakelands Club Homeowners Association
(Plainfield, IL)

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The Lakelands Club planted native species on islands in the middle of the community lake, formerly a quarry.

Tallgrass Restoration, LLC
(Schaumburg, IL)

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Tallgrass Restoration has designed a beautiful front yard demonstration prairie outside their headquarters, located in a traditional industrial park in Schaumburg, IL.


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