TLC's Blog (167)
Latino Conservation Week is a nationwide week of activities to promote conservation efforts and provide an opportunity for Latinos to show their support for permanently protecting our land, water and air.
Sonja and Rich Brook have built a legacy on their farm in rural Harvard. People who frequent the Woodstock Farmers Market know the Brooks for their flavored popcorn, fresh vegetables and flowering plants. After many years of hard work, they were thinking of retiring from farming and wondered who would take over the operation since their children went down different paths. But now they’ve found the perfect farmers who appreciate all that the Brooks have accomplished.
Jennifer Kinney of Piscasaw Gardens grows and sells fresh cut flowers at the Woodstock Farmers Market. She and her husband Aaron purchased the Brooks’ farm in May, and cut flowers will continue to play a prominent role in the business. They are also growing 25 acres of fruits and vegetables and 15 acres of Mirai corn, as well as the popcorn production that Rich and Sonja started.
Jennifer pays tribute to her grandmother, Selma Davidson, who helped her begin to grow cut flowers, and to her mother Janet Davidson and her grandmother, Martha Blum, for instilling a love of all growing things. She also tagged along with her dad, Walter Davidson, a dairy farmer and field crop producer. Jennifer says, “My dad taught me that a farmer gets up and out to do the work no matter how wet, cold, windy or hot it is, and no matter how crappy one feels. My family is my first strong stream of farming heritage … We are so thankful for Rich and Sonja and we hope to honor their legacy on the farm.”
Jen’s advice to newer farmers who dream of owning their own place: “Number one is you need experience, but not too much. If you apply for an FSA loan they won’t give you one if you have more than nine years’ experience as a farmer. And number two is, take advantage of the federal loan program because it is a lower interest rate and allows you to spread the payments out over a longer period of time than a conventional loan.”
Piscasaw Gardens is at 9306 Lawrence Road, Harvard. Customers may purchase products at their storefront on the farm or at several farmers markets, including the one in Woodstock. Visit their website at www.piscasaw.com.
I hope Phase 4 of Illinois’ coronavirus reopening finds you and your loved ones well, and that you are managing with any changes you’ve experienced through this time.
The same month that I was born, August 1963, was when Martin Luther King Jr gave his "I have a dream speech," in which he said he dreamed of a day when his "four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
As someone who has benefitted from being a white American, I know that many of the things I take for granted - being able to live where I choose, change jobs to better my situation, speak out at public meetings, take a walk through pretty much any neighborhood, assume that police will not barge into my home and shoot me in my bed - are denied to millions of Americans because of the color of their skin.
As an ecologist, I know that the first law of ecology is that everything is connected to everything else.
This is one of the reasons why the cause of racial equity and justice represented by the Black Lives Matter movement is a vital issue to TLC's staff and board, and to me, personally. If one part of an ecosystem is under stress and struggling, the whole ecosystem may collapse.
People of color are disproportionately affected by the negative consequences of climate change, are less likely to have access to good health care, more likely to live in areas with poor air and water quality, more likely to have high lead and mercury levels in their bodies, less likely to own their own home, more likely to be sent to prison, more likely to be killed by police, less likely to live near protected natural areas, more likely to flee their homelands in desperation because of social, economic and environmental disasters...
These are facts, not opinions. And, these are the consequences of a system infused with racism. It was this system that Dr. King worked peacefully to change until his life was taken by a bullet when he was just 39.
The current system must change. All our lives, and the future of the Earth depends on a healthy, caring humanity. And, if the benefits of a healthy, diverse natural world are not accessible equally to everyone, we have not done our jobs well.
I pledge to do my best to honor Dr. King's dream through my words and deeds. I pledge to be an anti-racist, and to do what I can, where I am, with the resources available to me to make this a world where Dr. King's words are reality.
Please join me.
Here's a list of anti-racism resources that might be helpful. If you have found other resources that you would like to recommend, please share them with me.
Yours very truly, Lisa
The Land Conservancy of McHenry County is pleased to announce that since the launch of the 5000 Acre Challenge in late January, private landowners and municipalities have increased the total to over 4,000 acres of oak woods cared for in McHenry County.
The 5,000 Acre Challenge is forging partnerships with private landowners, who now own 85 percent of the county’s remaining oaks, and seeking support from municipalities and the public. TLC believes meeting the 5,000 Acre Challenge is crucial to protect the environment and character of McHenry County.
Oaks and other trees help clean the air and water and reduce air temperature, helping to conserve energy. They reduce flooding and support our native wildlife. Native oaks evolved with native plants and wildlife to make unique ecosystems that are some of the most endangered in the world.
TLC is offering an Oak Keepers webinar on June 12 for those who would like to learn more about caring for oak trees. The webinar will include tips on how to investigate the history of your land, basic oak habitat plant identification, and equipment suggestions with related safety procedures. The class is free, and registration closes Monday, June 8. Participants can sign up at www.ConserveMC.org.
Visit 5000Acres.com to learn more about caring for oak trees and to include your oak acreage in the total.
There are a lot of reasons why hiking is one of the most popular outdoor sports. It’s easy to do, and almost anyone can do it. There’s no need for a lot of expensive equipment and you can access thousands of miles of hiking trails for free or for very low cost. The number of people hiking each year has steadily increased and the last estimate was that more than 40 million people went hiking last year. While that’s great for hikers, it’s not so great for the natural environment. People are the number one cause of the destruction of natural environments. If you like to hike and enjoy the outdoors do these things to make sure that you’re not damaging the environment when you’re hiking:
Take All of Your Trash
Hiking snacks are important. Many hikers bring healthy snacks like fruit because fruit is easy to carry and provides a good source of energy. But, they often leave behind apple cores, seeds, and other remains of their snacks thinking that they will naturally break down. But it takes a long time for food waste to break down and before it can totally decompose animals could eat that rotted fruit or the seeds left behind and get very sick or even die. Don’t leave any trash behind, even food trash.
Don’t Take Things
There are lots of very interesting and pretty thing to see when you’re hiking. Wildflowers, unique leaves, interesting shaped sticks or rocks, and many more cool things. But those items should be left in nature. Don’t take them home as souvenirs. If even half of the millions of people who hike every year took just one thing from the natural environment that entire ecosystem would be destroyed. You can snap photos of cool items instead of taking them with you.
Clean Your Boots Off
If you like to hike on different trails each time you hike it’s very important to clean off your boots between hikes. When you are hiking your boots will pick up soil that contains debris, bacteria, and the seeds of the area you were in and when you go somewhere new that debris gets transferred to the new place. If that soil contains harmful bacteria, or seeds that aren’t native to the area it can cause a lot of destruction in the new area. Take a few minutes to clean off your boots after a hike to prevent contaminating a different ecosystem.
Hiking trails are there to give you an easy and safe walking surface that won’t damage the natural environment. That’s why you need to stay on the trail when you’re hiking. Going off the trail to try and make your own shortcut means that you will kill grass, trample plants, break off bushes, and other devastation. You can avoid getting lost and getting in trouble by just staying on the trails that are provided for you. Keep a trail map with you so that you don’t get lost.
Dogs Should Be Leashed
If you’re going to brink your dog hiking with you keep your dog on a leash at all times so that your dog doesn’t eat grass, dig up the soft soil by the trails, or cause other havoc while you’re hiking.
This article was created Personal Injury Help (www.personalinjury-law.com), an organization dedicated to providing the public with information about personal injury and safety information. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice, and it is intended for informational use only. Be sure to review your local hiking ordinances to ensure you hike safe and legally!
As we look back on 2019, we thank Food:Land:Opportunity for their generous support of our work to promote local food farmers and regenerative farming in McHenry County.
The video below provides a snapshot of what was accomplished in the past year.
The Land Conservancy of McHenry County (TLC) has preserved an 83-acre property, Slough Creek Wetland Bank, located northwest of Woodstock on Jankowski Road.
The parcel lies within the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge and is adjacent to McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD) property along Slough Creek, the Nippersink Creek corridor, and one half mile from the Bystricky Prairie Illinois State Nature Preserve. The property adds 83 acres for a total of 1,500 contiguous acres of wildlife habitat.
Once a farm field, the property was restored to a wetland and wet prairie habitat for the purpose of selling wetland mitigation credits to mitigate development wetland impacts.
The wetland/wet-mesic prairie restoration has met all US Army Corps of Engineers, USEPA, & US Fish and Wildlife Service approvals for wetland restoration. In addition to the restored vegetation, the site serves as feeding/nesting/migration habitat for a number of declining, rare, or threatened/endangered Illinois bird species such as: Northern Harrier, Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren, Bobolink, and Sparrows (Field, Grasshopper, Henslow’s, Savannah, Song, Swamp, and Vesper).
The owners decided to work with TLC as the organization to complete the donation process due to the TLC’s long record of integrity and reputation for natural land management.
As part of the land donation, the donors are contributing to a long-term management fund held for the property and also covering the cost of one year of site management, which includes prescribed burns and eradicating invasive species at the site.
TLC plans to hold the property for two-to-three years and collect native seed there for use at other sites. Eventually, the property will be transferred to either MCCD or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for formal addition to the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge.