Invasive Species at New Salem State Historic Site

Regular forest management is necessary to deal with invasive species that have displaced so much of our native flora.

It is very exciting to kick off our habitat restoration work at New Salem Historic Site in partnership with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources! While the site is best known and visited for the recreated village where Lincoln once lived, much of the site is forested land, from the floodplains along the Sangamon River to the upland forests crisscrossed by several miles of hiking trails. Like most natural areas, regular management is necessary to deal with invasive species that have displaced so much of our native flora. Continue reading “Invasive Species at New Salem State Historic Site”

Leaves of three, let it be….

poison ivy

Leaves of three, let it be… but leaves of three are not always a sign of danger!

There are many beneficial native plants with trifoliate leaves that are completely benign. Speaking of beneficial native plants, poison ivy IS extremely beneficial for wildlife. The flowers are visited by bees, the leaves are hosts for several moth caterpillars and browsed occasionally by mammals, and probably most importantly, the white berries feed dozens of bird species. Of course, the birds are then responsible for its wide distribution, much to the dismay of all who react to the irritating urushiol oil, present in all parts of the plant.

Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) can form a bush, creep along the ground, or grow as a climbing vine. It can be recognized by the glossy, toothed, trifoliate leaves. New growth sometimes has a reddish tinge. Fall coloring is often a brilliant orange. The vines are often covered in course hairs and aerial rootlets that allow them to cling to trees, fences, etc.

(Click on images to open larger format.)

Now for a few native species that can be confused with poison ivy: Continue reading “Leaves of three, let it be….”

Happy Arbor Day

What better way to celebrate Arbor Day than by planting a tree or two or more!

People often ask for help selecting a tree to plant at their home. My first bit of advice is always to choose something that is appropriate to the site, that will thrive for years to come. It is important to do some research and have a good understanding of a tree’s expected mature size, growth habits, and insect pest or disease concerns. Too often, we see trees that have been topped for line clearance—something that could have been avoided by selecting a smaller species! Continue reading “Happy Arbor Day”

Earth Day!

Tomorrow, April 22, 2020, is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day!  Here in Menard County we’ll be celebrating virtually this year.  Please share pics or posts of how you celebrate the day!

earth day 2019
Last year Menard County Trails & Greenways teamed up with community members and Clean up with Cops! to clean up litter in Hurie Park.



Stay in Place in Your Yard and Garden

Nature's Best Hope

Two weeks ago we suggested several Earth Day stay-in-place activities you can do while observing physical distancing. Last week we covered the first suggestion on the list, to plant something– flowers, veggies or a tree, with the post  If something is not eating your plants, then your garden is not part of the ecosystem!  In that post, Alana explained how important it is to plant native species that support the pollinators and other critters that form the balance of nature we all depend on.

On that note, the Native Plant Conservation Campaign has made available Douglas Tallamy’s video presentation of his latest book, Nature’s Best Hope. Tallamy is a leader in advancing our understanding of how individual homeowners can help local wildlife, support vital ecosystem services such a water purification, and fight climate change all by gardening with beautiful local natives!  

We hope the video gives you inspiration as you plan your post-Covid-19 garden and landscaping projects! Enjoy! And, share! 

Nature’s Best Hope with Doug Tallamy 3-3-2020 from NCTV 79 on Vimeo.

If something is not eating your plants, then your garden is not part of the ecosystem!

Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis)

While perusing Pinterest a while ago, I came across this great sign:

For a long time, the ideal garden plants were ones that were “pest resistant.” That often meant plants that were not native to our region, plants that had not evolved with our native insects and were less palatable to them. In recent years, concerns about plummeting insect populations and overall loss of biodiversity has led to a new garden ethic, a movement to use our gardens to support wildlife rather than repel it. Planting native plants is a very important part of this strategy and something I hope you will consider! Continue reading “If something is not eating your plants, then your garden is not part of the ecosystem!”

Earth Day 2020–50 Years of Celebrating the Planet

Menard County Trails & Greenways plans to honor the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, albeit a little differently than we had planned. While we won’t be able to physically gather as friends and neighbors to help clean up Menard County, we can come together in the same spirit, do some good work around (or even inside!) our homes, and share our efforts virtually.

Public health experts and government leaders are encouraging us to safely get outdoors, underscoring more than ever the importance of our natural world to our health and well-being.  Let’s take a moment, however big or small, to return the favor.

We’ve started a list of ideas for honoring Earth Day that are “stay-at-home” friendly. Continue reading “Earth Day 2020–50 Years of Celebrating the Planet”