To restore the ecological health of the Spring Creek Forest Preserves. We strive to increase public awareness, participation and appreciation of the preserves.
2012 William H. Miller Conservation Award presented to Spring Creek Stewards
Accepting the award, presented by Jim Vanderpoel, (right) are (left to right) Jim Voris, Matt Hokanson, Jim Root, Dave Cook and and Ginger Underwood.
The William H. Miller Conservation Award is given for outstanding contributions to conservation in the Barrington Area. CFC has been extremely successful in establishing native plants on its own preserves–so successful that its own restorations are now the best source of seed in the Barrington area. The winner of this year’s award, the Spring Creek Stewards, are using seed collected at CFC’s plant-rich Grigsby Prairie and Flint Creek Savanna in collaboration with CFC to undertake ecological restoration on a scale far larger than that allowed by CFC’s preserves.
Cook County’s Spring Creek Forest Preserve is almost 4,000 acres. If we are to restore the full palette of Illinois’ ecosystems, it is essential that we create habitat in the thousands of acres, because there are many living things that cannot thrive in small preserves.
In 2003, Audubon Chicago Region convinced the Forest Preserve District of Cook County to authorize a volunteer group to do ecological restoration at Spring Creek. The Spring Creek Stewards were formed and they started collecting seed at the CFC preserves in 2004. The Stewards almost immediately succeeded in increasing the population of grassland birds at Spring Creek by cutting the fence line brush and opening up and connecting the old fields of the forest preserve. Now the Stewards are sowing seed mixes into some of the cleared fields and woods and are beginning to see good results at such sites as Galloping Hill Prairie, The 160, and around the remnant fen.
The Spring Creek Stewards are likely to be the only nature group that has ever participated in a mounted seed sowing, with riders advancing in a line across the prairie to be, perhaps the first time in a century that Chicago-area grassland once more looked like the Old West.
It is CFC’s pleasure to recognize these environmental accomplishments and present the Wiliam H.Miller Conservation Award to the Spring Creek Stewards. Jim Voris, active member of the Stewards quipped that the Stewards have no formal leadership and are proud of it. They are noted for their good food and good fellowship.
Who are the Spring Creek Stewards?
People from all walks of life who enjoy interacting with nature and want to make the preserves a place where wildlife and native habitats can flourish for generations to come. The most important part of any volunteer organization is, of course, its people.
Field Work Stewards
Field Work Stewards are the backbone of our restoration work. It’s a great way to make a difference for the land and wildlife of these preserves while having fun and meeting new people.
Master Stewards lead the workdays and help plan and organize the restoration work.
Youth Group Stewards
Youth groups, scout troops, high school and college student organizations. Volunteering provides a great opportunity to learn.
Stewards Who Monitor Results
Stewards monitor the response of plants and animals to the restoration work. We recruit and train monitors, coordinate with the FPD and Chicago Wilderness’ monitoring data, and provide stewards with monitoring data and analysis. Currently, we monitor birds, butterflies, frogs, dragonflies and plants.
Corporations like REI are instrumental in our restoration work by sending scores of volunteers to support conservation efforts.