Pictured is the oak savanna on the Schaid Parcel. Stay tuned for before and after photos to see what our volunteers can accomplish.

The savanna that will benefit from this grant is located within the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge on a site known as the Schaid Parcel.  This savanna has an intact community of mature bur oaks, however the understory is severely degraded, being comprised of a continuous layer of reed canary grass and Hungarian brome, with large clumps of multiflora rose throughout. 

Schaid parcel on HackmatackNWRVolunteers with the Friends of Hackmatack, working in partnership with staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the McHenry County Conservation District, will restore the savanna by removing all invasive species from the site, which will then be seeded with a native savanna seed mix. 

Upon completion, the project will restore biodiversity to the savanna and accommodate the growth of young oaks.  Volunteers will participate directly in the project by removing invasive species from the savanna, removing invasive trees and shrubs from a fence line bordering the savanna, and sowing the savanna seed mix.  We hope to partner with students from the Alden-Hebron High School, who we have worked with in the past, and we will engage the students to do as much of the volunteer work as possible.  We will educate these students about invasive species, and why we are restoring native plant diversity to this oak ecosystem.

Nicor Gas is proud to support The Morton Arboretum and its Chicago Region Trees Initiative (CRTI) which aims to increase the Chicago region’s tree canopy, reduce threats to trees, enhance oak ecosystems and inspire people to value trees. Trees clean our air and water, reduce flooding, improve property values, create habitat for wildlife, and provide significant social and health benefits. Trees improve our quality of life. No other initiative in the U.S. works at the scale or depth to restore urban forests than CRTI. ~https://www.nicorgas.com/news/sustainability/the-morton-arboretum.html

December 3, 2023 Report:

A group of volunteers worked to remove invasive trees and brush from a fenceline which borders the savanna on its north edge, as well as the fence itself.  In spring, site preparation will be completed by volunteers and professionals, and grant funds will be used to purchase a savanna seed mix for application once the site is free of invasive plants.   

This event came a few days after our chainsawyers completed the required federal chainsaw training, which enabled them to use chainsaws at this workday.  Other volunteers used bowsaws and loppers to remove many smaller woody plants from the fenceline, and also removed the wire fencing. 

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February 2024 Report

We are on schedule, with fall herbiciding and brush removal in the five-acre savanna completed by professional staff with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the McHenry County Conservation District, and fenceline tree and brush clearing and fence removal completed by volunteers on December 3rd, 2023. This spring USFWS and MCCD staff along with volunteers will conduct follow-up herbiciding, and a savanna seed mix will be purchased before the grant deadline of June 30, 2024. 

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