Since 2008, a small miracle has happened in Johnsburg. Through the efforts of one person, a landscape has been transformed. That person is Robert Roe.
He was featured in the recent "Everyday Heroes" section of the NW Herald - deservedly so. I know he doesn't do any of his volunteer work for attention, and I guess that's what makes him an everyday hero -- he does his thing whether anyone notices or not.
Robert's "thing" is restoring the land along Dutch Creek that runs through the Dutch Creek Estates Subdivision where he lives. And he has inspired a dedicated cadre of volunteers to work along-side him at the monthly restoration work days that he has organized for four years. He just put together a nice Progress Report through the end of 2011.
Nearly 3,000 volunteer hours have been donated to restoration of the site during that time! Conservatively speaking , the value of those donated hours is nearly $60,000. TLC could not afford to hire workers to do that amount of restoration at the site. We offer the use of some equipment and contribute herbicide to the project, but the heavy lifting (literally) is done by Roe & the other volunteers.
The natural area being restored is over 150 acres in size, and includes springs, seeps, oak savannas and one of the highest quality headwater creeks in the area. Roe points to three primary benefits of the project: aesthetic (restored natural areas do look better), ecological (the restoration is improving habitat for a wider diversity of species than would be found there otherwise) and economic.
When he talks of economic benefits, Roe refers primarily to the sense of community that projects like this provide. Over 200 individuals have contributed sweat equity to the project so far -- 98 individuals helped out in 2011 alone! Many of those people had never participated in an ecological restoration project before, and many of them had not previously worked together on a volunteer project.
This intangible but very real sense of camaraderie - of community pride & shared commitment to a place and a purpose - is an important part of what enriches our lives and our communities.
And that, as they say, is priceless.