Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Yes I Will Run Again

Since people have asked... Yes, I am planning on running for another term as Forest Preserve Commissioner. I will prepare an official announcement soon. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is one of the finest in the country, and I am proud to have been a part of that. If you have any questions, comments, or want to help with the election, leave a comment here, or contact me at horticarl@yahoo.com.


Friday, May 25, 2007

Party Every 17 Years

Thanks to my Uncle Harry (Junior) for sending me this clip about the 17 year cicadas.

Monday, May 21, 2007

My Field Trip

The town of Hennepin is a wonderful rural town. My day started at a little country diner with typically cheap breakfasts. From there we reviewed the wetland restorations just to the south. In 2001 it was still a working farm with corn in the fields. By turning off the pumps that kept the land dry behind a levee, the area filled with water. By 2004 the area grew up into a beautiful wetland. Oh, by the way, this was without any reseeding. Amazingly, this land was farmed since early in the previous century and the seed bed still had a lot of seeds of native plants there. Wow!

The first bird I saw here was an orchard oriole. What a pretty bird. Then we went to the observation tower and I saw 2 white pelicans. Yes folks, pelicans in Illinois. And I wasn't at a zoo.

In the afternoon we went over to the other side of the Illinois River and reviewed the nutrient farming area. Goose pond use to have a sandy bottom and a hunting club would cross the pond by boat to get to their hunting area. Now they drive around, because it has filled with sediment from the Illinois River flooding and you can't float a boat on it. There are several reasons why this has happened, but one factor was the reversing of the Chicago River, which raised the Illinois River 2'-3'.

Anyway, the plan is to have step-down ponds that will purify the water as it flows downstream.
This will be a model for the whole of the Mississippi Valley. Hopefully, it will be successful, and will work to recover the 'Dead Zone.'

So why was I there? There are applications that could be used in the District to improve water quality. This will improve habitat and then improve the wildlife along the stream. This is ultimately a long term vision, for what our preserves can become. Oh yeah, there is also the possibility for it to provide revenue to the District. That will help to fund operations and keep taxes down, even with improving District facilities. All Good!


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Off to Hennepin

I have never been to the fine town of Hennepin. Tomorrow will be my first visit. It is a field trip of sorts, to review the efforts of The Wetland Initiative. They are looking at nutrient farming.

There is a huge 'Dead Zone' where the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Evidence points to fertilizer as the culprit, specifically Nitrogen. The goal of nutrient farming is to reduce excess nutrients in our rivers and streams. The attempt is to develop water quality credits that can be traded that will compensate the 'farmers'. Some people question whether this amounts to creating a license to pollute. To the contrary, this will help nutrient contributors, such as a water treatment plant, to improve water quality flowing downstream. Maybe the day will come where the 'Dead Zone' will disappear and we will have much healthier rivers and streams.

A side benefit to the nutrient farming, is that it necessarily restores wetlands and increases habitat that has long been lost for fish, amphibians, water fowl, etc. Another is that wetlands do a better job of recharging the aquifers and might assist in providing for the water needs of a developing area. I will post more after my tour.


Monday, May 07, 2007

St. James Farm

Today the St. James Farm Committee met to review the facilities at St. James Farm. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County takes possession of the Farm on July 1. It is a beautiful equestrian facility that has a gazillion possibilities for the District.

The south part of the farm will be restored to the wild with trails through it. We will end up with a mini-review of the habitat of DuPage County in this one location. It will be exciting to watch this develop.

The north part of the farm will be more active. Riding horses is a given, but there will be more. One exciting opportunity is to turn a 62 stall visitor's stable into a small cultural center. It will have plays and concerts. There is also the possibility to have festivals and... Well, the opportunities are only limited by our imagination.

One of the reasons we are thinking big, is because of the $5 million gift that Mr. McCormick left the District to take care of St. James Farm. There will be something for most everyone. Check back on this blog to find out when we will be opening this preserve to the public.