No Mow Zones and Native Plants
The district has converted 23 acres of lawn grass in parks into ‘no-mow’ areas with native plants and perennial beds. These drought resistant plant areas reduce the need for watering and maintenance, which also results in fewer emissions from gas powered mowers. In fall 2010 we converted an additional 3.4 acres to Native Plants as part of the Referendum projects— approximately 0. 2 acres at Red Hawk; the rest split between Jirsa Park and Hampe Park.
Jan Smith Park Native Plant Museum
The Native Plant Museum is permanent beds of native Illinois plants. It is maintained by a group of volunteers.
Slepicka Park Historic Preservation
A five acre parcel of land with the homestead site of an heirloom family farm was purchased in 2006 to develop an adult-oriented park. A state grant provided $385,000 for development. The purchase saved the land from development and preserved one of the few local stands of mature trees. The original silo and many historic artifacts uncovered at the site will become a permanent interpretive display for park visitors. Almost half of the park will be dedicated to restored natural area.
The district built purple martin habitats on Balog Island in Armstrong Park. The houses are now home to the largest purple martin colony in the county.
Watershed and Water Quality Protection
projects to improve water quality, provide wildlife habitat and natural areas in the community include:
Red Hawk Park – The park district partnered with the county Forest Preserve District to pursue 42 acres of land. The river tributary running through this site has 13-acre buffer of native plants to protect downstream waters.
Volunteer Park – The park district entered into an intergovernmental agreement to manage a 20-acre state-owned wetland adjacent to Volunteer Park. The park district plans to add a path and interpretive signage for community education.
Community Park – Thirty five acres of existing wetlands were improved and expanded in Community Park. The improvements increase water quality in downstream rivers.
Evergreen Lakes Shoreline Restoration – the district secured $415,000 in grants for shoreline stabilization at a park next to an elementary school. The district collaborated with the school to use the project as part of the curriculum for a unit on ponds, lakes and streams in 2002.
Armstrong Park Shoreline Restoration – the last phase of restoration for this large lake and island was completed in 2009. Native plantings, rock fishing stations, and benches now line the shoreline. The restoration also preserved the home of the Purple Martin colony, which is located on the island.
Bierman Wetland and Mesic Prairie – This park has a pond that is a popular fishing area. The shoreline was eroding, fish populations were declining, and annual chemical treatments were necessary to control algae. We established a mesic prairie, brought in aquatic plants to stabilize the shoreline and filter out pollution. In the three years since the establishment of the prairie, we have not had to chemically treat the water for algae.
Blue Heron Park, neighboring a restored wetland, has a wildlife education theme. The park features a gazebo to allow visitors to catch a glimpse of the several endangered and threatened species of birds that live in or visit the area. Educational signage informs park patrons about wetlands and the animals that live there. The wetlands are home to the endangered pie-billed grebe and the yellow-throated blackbird. Blue herons and egrets, both of which are on the threatened list, also frequent the wetlands. Many other birds and wildlife utilize the area as a source of food or shelter.
Murray’s Meadow The park district initiated a process to convert a 3-acre grass-lined storm water detention basin, owned by the village, to a natural wetland area, now called Murray’s Meadow.