TLC's Blog (155)
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.
It’s the five-year anniversary of TLC’s [email protected] program!
Students from Landmark School in McHenry planted trees at the Remington Grove conservation easement in June 2019.
Earlier this fall a young red-tailed hawk was found at Wolf Oak Woods that had likely been clipped by a car. She had a concussion and other injuries. Staff from the MCCD Wildlife Rehabilitation Center picked her up and cared for her over the past couple of months, ensuring she was rehabilitated and ready for a safe return to the wild. On Dec. 4, 2019 she was released back to her home at Wolf Oak Woods! Thank you to the staff at the McHenry County Conservation District for rehabilitating her and returning her to her home! (Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the video!)
The hawk ready to take flight. (Photo courtesy of Randy Schietzelt)
The hawk on the day she was found injured. (Photo courtesy of Lauretta Wolf)
The best ideas surface when friends meet new friends over coffee. In 2008, Rene Dankert invited me to meet Lisa Haderlein and Linda Balek for coffee and brainstorming to develop a fundraiser for TLC, and Art of the Land was born.
The thrill and outpouring of support from our first Art of the Land event, 11 years ago, has grown into TLC’s major annual fundraiser. I’ve enjoyed volunteering to gather artists, helping hang the exhibition at the Starline Factory, and being able to show and sell my own paintings to support TLC. It amazes me to reflect on the size and attendance of the early events compared to how much it has grown and elevated in recent years. I’m proud to have been a part of this beautiful fundraiser, which has benefitted our community for so long.
Another friendship developed through TLC is in my own backyard. I’m lucky to live behind Randy and Nancy Schietzelt, who maintain the Wingate Property. Upon moving to Crystal Lake from Portland in 2002, Nancy explained how their property is held in trust to remain protected by TLC in perpetuity.
My family and I have benefitted being adjacent to this lovely acreage because their special prairie plants and flowers have spread to our property! Randy taught my husband, Paolo, about warding off garlic mustard and other invasive species, so I feel our yard reflects the same care and value as the Wingate Property.
As an artist, I am grateful to TLC to be able to gather inspiration through the beauty in my own backyard.
In August, TLC was accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.
To become accredited, TLC provided extensive documentation and was subject to a comprehensive third-party evaluation prior to achieving this distinction. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded accreditation, signifying its confidence that TLC’s lands will be protected forever. Accredited land trusts steward almost 20 million acres of land throughout the United States.
Thank you to all of TLC’s friends, members, volunteers, partners, and everyone who supports this work. You have helped make TLC what it is today: one of 400 accredited nonprofit land trusts in the United States!
June Keibler returns to TLC's board of directors in 2019 after serving on the board from 1991-96. She and her husband Steve live in Dundee and have a grown son and daughter and five grandchildren.
How do you spend your days?
I am retired. I volunteer for Dundee Township Open Space helping to coordinate volunteer workdays for ecological restoration.
What are your ties to McHenry County?
We own a 73-acre farm held in a conservation easement in Alden that we are restoring to prairie and savanna. The strong land/environmental ethic is a defining characteristic of the county, and I like that.
Why did you decide to join TLC board?
I am a founding member of The Land Conservancy, and having the land in Alden has given me a new connection to McHenry County. Also, I think the work TLC is doing is extremely valuable.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I'm looking forward to getting to know the board and staff and working to protect land in McHenry County.
Becky Walkington, daughter of Dick & Betty Babcock, passed away Jan. 16, 2018 after a struggle with cancer.
Many people tell me they don't think that trees need care or attention.
They think that trees in the woods don't need help to survive, so they don’t do anything to help them. I can appreciate this perspective, but I disagree with it. A healthy woods is sustainable but suburban backyard conditions are far from healthy for trees.
Our soils are often compacted, lack organic matter, and have been drastically changed from a healthy woodland soil. Poor soil conditions can lead to all sorts of problems like girdling roots, chlorosis, root rot and other stress-related problems. About 80 percent of all tree health problems are due to soil-related issues. Most other tree problems are due to imported insect and disease issues.
To help improve soil conditions we can properly mulch our trees. The mulch decomposes, and as it does, it replicates soil conditions a tree would find in a woodland environment. Please no “volcano” mulching, though. We are trying to mulch the roots and soil, not the tree trunk. A layer of mulch that is a few inches thick to the edge of the canopy is a great start..
If a tree falls over in the woods it’s probably not going to hurt anyone or cause damage. Landscape trees pose a risk of failing and creating safety concerns. Pruning is recommended to lessen the risks associated with trees in the suburban environment. In some situations trees need to be removed because the risk associated with them is too high.
We can also help our trees by watering in drought, fertilizing them and managing insect and disease issues. A certified arborist can help you determine what your trees need. The International Society of Arboriculture administers a proficiency test and continuing education to qualify a person as a certified arborist.
Trees are an important part of our environment, and properly caring for them maximizes the benefits they provide while minimizing the risks. Do what you can to care for your trees!
Shawn Kingzette, Certified Arborist IL-0959A