Archive for the ‘Spring Creek Stewards’ Category


The Forest Preserve District of Cook County, long-maligned by a reputation for mismanagement and politically motivated hiring, is taking a gamble on the November ballot: It’s asking voters to hike their own property taxes to give the district an annual budget boost of $40 million.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and her hand-picked Superintendent Arnold Randall unveiled a revamp of the district in 2014, but a tax hike was deemed a political non-starter after decades of damaging headlines. Most focused on sweeping patronage accusations (later curbed by court monitoring), but also neglect and financial mismanagement as well as smaller-scale scandals, such as an aquatic center where workers pocketed payments and gave minors alcohol.

A referendum question for voters across the county will ask their permission for a 0.025% increase above the current state-mandated Property Tax Extension Limitation Law cap for the district, bringing the limit to 0.076%.

What does it mean for your bill? Right now, the owner of a median-priced home pays $36 to $47 in property taxes per year to the district. If the referendum passes, the increase for an average homeowner would be less than $20 a year, or about $1.50 per month, according to the district.

The revenues are not yet earmarked, but FPDCC Chief Financial Officer Stephen Hughes told the Tribune its current plans are to spend roughly $7.3 million to buy more property, $6 million for facility maintenance, $6.3 million for land restoration and $9.7 million for pension payments. The Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe and Brookfield Zoo, which both stand on FPDCC land, would get $2.4 million and $4 million, respectively, for capital maintenance.

Even the often tax-averse Civic Federation is in support of a “yes” vote on the referendum. President Laurence Msall is among advocates who argue the district has earned the right to ask for the extra cash after cleaning up its act. A right-sized workforce, cuts in expenditures and improvements in planning are all signs of improved management and oversight.

“But important to this referendum is that the Forest Preserves has a reasonable plan that has been vetted” by outside groups, Msall said.

More here.

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Track spring migration with Barrington naturalists Wendy Paulson, Barb Karon and Laura Simpson
Walks are free and open to the public. But spaces are limited and REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED.
Bring binoculars (and insect repellent if desired) and dress for the weather.

  • Aug 26, 7:30 a.m. — Horizon Farm (Old Sutton Road, north of HWY 62 /Algonquin Road)
  • Sept 9, 7:30 a.m. — Crabtree Nature Center (3 Stover Road off of Palatine Road)
  • Sept 16, 8:00 a.m. — Beverly Lake* (North side of Higgins Rd/Rt. 72, East of Healy Rd)3 Stover Road off of Palatine Road)
  • Sept 23, 8:00 a.m. – Crabtree Nature Center (3 Stover Road off of Palatine Road)
  • Sept 30, 8:00 a.m. –Deer Grove East* (entrance on north side of Dundee Road, west of Hicks Road, east of Smith Street. Go to farthest and last parking area to the west of Picnic Grove #1) with optional extension to Camp Alphonse (off Dundee Road)
  • Oct 7, 8:00 a.m.— McHenry Dam (From S. River Road turn left onto McHenry Dam Road. Follow the road to parking lot-turn left and park at the far end of the parking lot.)
  • Oct 14, 8:00 a.m. – Beese Park/Younghusband* (Parking lot at corner of Cornell Ave. & George St.)
  • Oct 21, 8:30 a.m. – Galloping Hill * (Park at Penny Road Pond parking lot in Barrington Hills)
  • Oct 28, 9:00 a.m. – Crabtree Nature Center (3 Stover Road off of Palatine Road)

* Indicates a more strenuous hike.

Before you head out, please be sure to check the Citizens for Conservation website for any last minute changes or cancellations.

Click HERE for more information.

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The Spring Creek Stewards are back to doing what they do best – protecting and preserving our favorite forest preserve!

Nature Photography with Ken DeMuth

Many volunteers know Ken as a knowledgeable, dedicated naturalist with the Spring Creek Stewards. What you may not know, is that when Ken isn’t lopping buckthorn or pulling sweet clover, he’s busy honing his photography skills while hiking through Spring Creek Forest Preserve.

OK, his photos are regularly featured in this newsletter, so if you read the fine print this may not be news to you. As a recently certified IL Master Naturalist, Ken will be joined by his peers in leading a nature photography webinar next month. Get some insight on how to capture photos like the one below, featuring Healy Savanna on a Winter’s day. Spots are limited, so reserve yours today!

Nature’s Pixels, February 8th 6-7 PM on Zoom

Photography is both an art and an important tool for connecting with the natural world. Learn a few tricks of the trade from Illinois Extension Master Naturalists Marnie Baker, Kathy Branigan, and Ken DeMuth as they discuss mastering picture taking in Cook County’s nature. Register here.

Read more from This Week in Spring Creek here.

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Cook County Commissioner Kevin B. Morrison

Cook County Commissioner Kevin B. Morrison and State Rep. Michelle Mussman will host a COVID-19 virtual town hall at noon Friday to discuss the county and state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resources available to residents and businesses.

The meeting will be live streamed on their Facebook pages and abit.ly/2VppIC1. Residents can submit questions beforehand to District15@cookcountyil.gov.

Morrison’s 15th District includes Barrington Township, and his contact information can be found here. He is a voting member of the Forest Preserve District Board which oversees Crabtree Nature Center, Horizon Farm and Spring Lake preserves.

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The Village has released the audio recordings from the December 7th quarterly meeting of the Equestrian Commission.

There were no formal comments made during public comment, however attendees were allowed to comment or ask questions when recognized by the chair throughout the meeting.  This more informal format is used for most Barrington Hills meetings, excluding the Village and Zoning Board meetings.

The first item covered in the meeting was the status of Horizon Farms.  Trustee Maison, liaison to the commission, provided the update, which can be heard here.

Village attorney Patrick Bond then spoke about the status of horse boarding in Barrington Hills as it stands currently in our Village Codes.  His presentation can be heard here.

It was surprising that none of the estimated 20 residents in attendance, or any of the commission members had questions or comments after Bond’s comments.  Considering the misinformation circulating throughout the Village on this topic in the last few years, one might have expected some interaction, but there was only silence.

When the topic of equestrian trail maps was discussed, there was interaction.

The Riding Club of Barrington Hills has expressed a desire to convert some of the private trails on homeowners’ properties to legal easements deeded to the club.  Two cases in which a swimming pool and a garden had been constructed which disrupted the trails were cited as factors for their desire to have better control of their trails.

It was suggested that if the trails were deeded to the Riding Club, this might be avoided, and a club representative in the audience stated that Riding Club would bear the cost of the filing fee.  Interested residents can contact the Riding Club, and the recording of that discussion can be heard here.

The agenda subject of “Equestrian Information on Website & in newsletter” also proved to be quite interesting.  The chair began the discussion by stating, “We have a number of equestrian clubs in Barrington Hills, and our events overlap.  For example, the Riding Club had a sector ride on the same day as the Village held ‘Hills Are Alive’, and so we couldn’t participate.”

Citing this recent scheduling “conflict,” she went on to express the desire to have one central calendar that all equestrian clubs may use for planning purposes, and to provide the public an opportunity to see all Village equestrian events, hunts or shows.

The chair then requested that the Village invite the Riding Club, Polo Club, Fox River Hounds, the Pony Club and the Barrington Hills Park District to utilize the Village government’s calendar for scheduling and information purposes, as well as add links to those organizations’ websites.

This seems like a reasonable concept, however the Barrington Area Library already provides a community calendar for this purpose, as seen here.

Furthermore, if the Village were to extend such an invitation, other organizations within the Village should be allowed to participate as well.  Garden clubs, youth scouting organizations, public and private schools, conservation groups and houses of worship, among others, would likely wish to have their notices posted to the calendar as well.

There’s also the matter of resources to be considered.  If the Village were to take on this responsibility, the time required to maintain such a calendar might become too great, thus detracting from other duties performed by Village Hall staff.

If the Village does decide to proceed with this initiative, the one suggestion we have is to create separate calendars for government business and community events.  Otherwise, the current calendar would likely become very muddled, thus making it more difficult for residents only interested in government meeting information to find what they’re looking for.

The link to the full Village website utilization discussion recording can be accessed here.  The menu of edited recordings by agenda topic for the entire meeting can be accessed here.

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Cook%20CountyThe Forest Preserve District of Cook County has recently released their “Trail Master Plan & Policy.”  The plan addresses current and planned changes for paved, unpaved and mowed trails as well as equestrian and mountain bike friendly trails.

The report also provides results of their 2013 survey of trail usage and satisfaction throughout the greater Cook County forest preserves areas.

A copy of the plan can be downloaded here.

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Friday FlashbackFollowing are some of the stories reported by The Observer in May 2011 and 2012.  These articles, gathered from various publications, are noteworthy for residents in that they remind us of where we’ve been as a community.  Readers can view further articles from those and other prior months by utilizing the “Archives By Month” menu tool on the right sidebar in all page views of this website.

Barrington 220 Educators Make Above-Average Salaries – 2011

Barrington School District 220 teachers and principals are making more than the average educator in Illinois, according to an analysis by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Read more from the Barrington Patch here.

Barrington Hills man sprucing up East Dundee – 2012

For years, Tom Roeser, the owner of Otto Engineering in Carpentersville, has concentrated his efforts on making that village a better place to live.  But now, the Barrington Hills resident is spending some money in East Dundee.

Read the full article here.

2012 William H. Miller Conservation Award presented to Spring Creek Stewards – 2012

The William H. Miller Conservation Award is given for outstanding contributions to conservation 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.

The full TribLocal article can be read here.

Tax bills increase despite drop in property value in Lake County – 2012

Tax bills are arriving in Lake County mailboxes and what most property owners will see is a drop in property values but no corresponding relief in the amount due.  It is similar to last year, when most taxing bodies asked for the maximum and tax rates rose to generate the requested amount.

This Daily Herald story can be read here.

–     The Observer

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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.

Read more here

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Local Groups’ Conservation Leaders Recognized with a “Grassroots Conservation Leadership Award” bestowed by Audubon Chicago Region and the Chicago Wilderness Habitat Project.

Ginger Underwood of Barrington Hills will accept a unique regional award acknowledging her work as President of the Friends of Spring Creek, and her support for this natural area in cooperation with Spring Creek Stewards. Ginger has been actively involved in a variety of roles with the preserve, and has worked creatively since 2003 to garner support and resources for the ongoing work there. Her outreach to neighbors, local officials, and the equestrian community have combined with creatively designed special events to attract neighbors, local officials, and the boards of interested organizations.

For the full story, click here

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Village residents who live in Cook County are invited to hear a presentation, and provide feedback to the Forest Preserve District of Cook County on their five-year capital district-wide  improvement plans this Thursday evening beginning at 7:00 PM at Crabtree Nature Center.

Agenda link: http://www.trumba.com/calendars/village-of-barrington-hills?trumbaEmbed=eventid%3D96689546%26view%3Devent%26-childview%3D&winClose=1

FPDCC Five-Year Plan Link:  http://www.fpdcc.com/downloads/Final1-31-11.pdf

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