Archive for the ‘Going green’ Category


Protecting open space has always been a quality-of-life issue in the suburbs and the collar counties, a goal under constant pressure from the relentless spread of commercial and residential development.

So, when an opportunity appears to ensure that a large tract is preserved and managed, it is something to be seized and once seized, appreciated. This time, the gratitude goes to the Barrington-based volunteer group Citizens for Conservation.

The group and the Richard Duchossois family announced last week the purchase of the family’s 246.5-acre Hill ‘N Dale Farm South, making it the 14th preserve in Lake, Cook and McHenry counties under Citizens for Conservation’s care.

“We’re going to build a beautiful, complex web of Illinois’ native life here at this preserve,” Jim Vanderpoel, a member of the Citizens for Conservation board, says in a video the group produced on the project.

In reflecting on the family’s goals in selling the site to the conservation group, Kim Duchossois, daughter of the late Arlington Park Chairman Richard Duchossois, discussed how “important this land is to the community,” but it’s worth adding that the preservation’s impact will extend well beyond the Barrington area.

Situated just across Lake-Cook Road from the 4,000-acre Spring Creek Valley Forest Preserve, the addition will expand an important wildlife corridor, providing habitat for native plant and aquatic life, grassland birds and endangered species, such as monarch butterflies and rusty-patched bumblebees.

It will protect the equivalent of three-quarters of a mile along Spring Creek, which feeds into the Fox River, and strengthen initiatives for greenways, watersheds and green infrastructure in three counties. It will be open to public access through programs to be managed by the conservation group. It will have an impact on the environment for all of northern Illinois.

Read the full Daily Herald editorial here.

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Solar Panel Install

Edward Carrico, left, and Spencer Kearney, with Solar Service in Niles, install solar panels on a home in Lake Zurich in March 2017. (John Konstantaras/for the Chicago Tribune)

Wondering how you’re going to pay for a $25,000 rooftop solar system? Help is on the way.

Two historic climate laws — one state, one federal — offer incentives that cut the cost for residential solar by more than half, starting this week.

The Inflation Reduction Act, signed by President Joe Biden last month, includes a tax credit equal to 30% of the cost of installing home solar, and the Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act offers an incentive expected to save rooftop solar customers roughly 40% of their costs, starting Thursday.

That would bring the cost of a $25,000 system down to approximately $7,500.

“It’s a really big deal,” said Vito Greco, director of solar programs at the Chicago nonprofit Elevate, which supports clean and affordable energy. “If you’re in Illinois, this is such a great time to get solar.”

Those who don’t pay enough taxes to claim the 30% federal tax credit can now get the full amount anyway, via a check from the government, Greco said.

And residents of low and moderate-income communities can benefit from additional federal tax credits of 10% to 20% of the cost of their solar projects, with some details still being worked out.

The federal tax incentive for people with average or high incomes is straightforward: a credit that reduces what you owe in taxes, not a deduction, so you would get $7,500 back on a $25,000 system.

The federal solar tax credit — increased and extended 10 years under the Inflation Reduction Act — is retroactive through the beginning of 2022.

Read more here.

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Dead Wood

While dead trees may not be the most attractive part of a forest, they are essential to its health. As dead wood is decomposed (by fungi, bacteria and other life forms) it aids new plant growth by returning important nutrients to the ecosystem. Photo by: Philip Walker

In this Issue:

  • Forest Preserves Police Introduce Mental Health Awareness Liaison
  • Inventory of Picnic Grove Trees Starts Management Plan
  • New Plan Identifies Forest Preserves’ Trail Priorities
  • Video Highlights How Wildlife Biologists Contribute to Disease Surveillance
  • Latest News: Five Fun Facts about Hummingbird Moths, Consider Doing Business with the Forest Preserves, Save the Date: Party for the Preserves on Sept 24, Dinner Under the Tent at the Beautiful George Dunne Golf Course
  • Upcoming Events
  • Volunteer Opportunities

Click here to view the latest.

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[BARRINGTON, IL – August 29, 2022]  – Barrington-based Citizens for Conservation and The Duchossois Group are pleased to announce today that long-term conservation protection has been provided for the 246.5-acre Hill ‘N Dale Farm South property. CFC has acquired the parcel from The Duchossois Group; it is located in unincorporated McHenry County and surrounded by Barrington Hills, bounded on the north by Spring Creek Road, on the east by Ridge Road, on the South by Lake-Cook/County Line Road, and on the west by residents along Meadow Hill Road.

This previously privately owned land in the Spring Creek watershed corridor is considered one of the most desirable conservation-worthy properties not only in the Barrington area, but in the entire Northern Illinois region. The purchase increases CFC’s owned and protected land to 777 acres in Lake, Cook, and McHenry Counties and will be the organization’s 14th and largest preserve.

The 246.5-acre site will be named Hill ‘N Dale Preserve and encompasses 4,060 linear feet of the high-quality Spring Creek, a tributary to the Fox River. The preserve honors the current name of the Duchossois property and reflects the protection of the surrounding upland bluffs (Hill) and the Spring Creek valley (Dale). The land is identified as a priority for protection and restoration in multiple local and regional plans, including the Barrington Greenway Initiative, the Spring Creek Watershed-Based Plan, and McHenry and Lake County Green Infrastructure Plans. It will provide green space connectivity to numerous other protected lands in our area, including the 4,000-acre Spring Lake (Spring Creek) Forest Preserve and the 550-acre state dedicated Spring Lake Nature Preserve.

The purchase will permanently protect the land as open space and improve and protect this sensitive watershed area, which is highly significant to area aquifer recharge. In addition, this acquisition will provide for a critical wildlife corridor connecting to the 4,000-acre Spring Creek Forest Preserve. Restoration of the landscape’s natural ecosystem will provide important habitat for native plant and aquatic communities, grassland birds (such as Bobolink, Bittern, and Henslow’s sparrows), and wildlife that originally occupied this land, including endangered species such as monarch butterflies and rusty-patched bumblebees.

Citizens for Conservation (CFC), a volunteer-based organization with a 50-year history in the Barrington area, stepped forward to save this land as part of their strategic focus on protection and restoration of impactful watershed and greenway areas. CFC has been a leader on these initiatives, which are vital for the ecological health of the region. Nationally, this acquisition also aligns with the federal “America the Beautiful 30 by 30 Plan,” which is the federal government’s goal to conserve at least 30 percent of U.S. lands and freshwater and 30 percent of U.S. ocean areas by 2030. This initiative seeks to reverse the negative impacts of biodiversity decline and climate change by protecting more natural areas, and to increase access to nature for communities that lack it. The Hill ‘N Dale Preserve will locally contribute significantly to this national effort, as well as to the recently announced Land Trust Alliance Gaining Ground initiative. Both these efforts were envisioned when Citizens for Conservation rolled out the Barrington Greenway Initiative.

“This property’s high conservation value, coupled with CFC’s strong history of delivering quality restoration results, will have far-reaching impacts for the entire Barrington-area community, as well as the entire Northern Illinois region,” said Kathleen Leitner, CFC’s Board President. “We could not be more pleased to have partnered with The Duchossois Group and Kim Duchossois to facilitate this acquisition of the south part of their family’s iconic farm near Barrington Hills. We believe that our local communities and regional partners will be ecstatic to hear that CFC has been able to permanently protect this vital open space.”

Kim Duchossois agreed. “My family and I could not be more thrilled to have worked so closely with Citizens for Conservation over the past year to facilitate their purchase of the south part of Hill ‘N Dale Farm. We know how important this land is to the community, and it was absolutely critical for our entire family to make certain that the property would be protected and maintained as open space. The key to our decision to sell to CFC was the organization’s long history in the area and its promise not only to preserve the property, but also to restore it over time and return it to its natural splendor. I’m also very pleased that the Barrington-area members of our family will be contributing a significant portion of their proceeds of the sale back to the CFC campaign to protect this land in perpetuity.”

Initial funding for the purchase came in the form of a $4.9 million grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, the largest such grant awarded for a single parcel purchase. This substantial award demonstrates the significant conservation value of this important property. CFC is seeking an additional $5 million in funding to supplement the purchase of the land, conduct ecological restoration, and manage the site for public enjoyment in the future.

Initial site evaluation (partially funded by an ICECF Advancing Wetland Conservation grant) is now being conducted to create multi-year ecological management plans for the property. The open space restoration will bring back native communities and species; provide new opportunities for school children and volunteers to engage with nature; provide increased surface water infiltration; enhance the quality of local groundwater; and increase wetlands, all while protecting one of the most pristine streams in Northern Illinois (Spring Creek).

Future public access to the preserve will be provided through CFC-sponsored activities. No horses remain on the property, but the possibility of horse trails will be evaluated during the preserve planning process. CFC has pledged to maintain the iconic white exterior fences that currently exist on the land.

Kathleen Leitner said, “This incredibly important acquisition is fulfilling CFC’s mission of ‘Saving Living Space for Living Things’ through protection, restoration and stewardship of land, conservation of natural resources, and education. Our organization’s history of dedicated supporters, volunteers, and community support has made this acquisition possible, and we intend to steward this land in perpetuity for the future of our entire community. We thank all who have been involved for their efforts.”

Video Highlights of New Preserve

Restoration Concept Map

Q&A Information

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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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Tree Survey

Researchers complete first comprehensive threat assessment of all US trees

For the first time, researchers have completed threat assessments for all 881 native tree species in the contiguous United States, resulting in a comprehensive checklist and synthesis that will serve as a critical baseline to guide future tree conservation efforts.

The new assessment of U.S. trees reveals that 11-16% of tree species in the contiguous 48 U.S. states are threatened with extinction, with the most common threat being invasive and problematic pests and diseases. According to Abby Meyer, executive director of Botanic Gardens Conservation International-U.S. (BGCI-US), a partner on the project, “These results lay the groundwork for U.S. tree and ecosystem conservation efforts that will contribute to achieving critical international conservation goals, including the United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restoration and the Global Tree Assessment.”

Murphy Westwood, Ph.D., vice president of science and conservation at The Morton Arboretum and senior author of the report, noted that much of the world’s biodiversity depends on trees, which offer food and habitat for countless plant, animal and fungal species while providing invaluable benefits to humans. “Understanding the current state of trees within the U.S. is imperative to protecting those species, their habitats and the countless communities they support,” she said.

The report is published in Plants, People, Planet. This study is the culmination of five years of research conducted by BGCI-US, The Morton Arboretum and NatureServe, in partnership with the United States Botanic Garden (USBG) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service.

Researchers examined the extinction risk, patterns of geographic and taxonomic diversity and leading threats facing tree species native to the continental U.S. Most U.S. species had never been assessed or were outdated on the two most widely used threat assessment platforms, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List and NatureServe.

Read more here.

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The Village Plan Commission will be holding a special meeting at 6:30 PM.  The single agenda item is, “[Vote] Barrington Hills Country Club Forest Management Plan.”

A copy of the agenda can be viewed and downloaded here.

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Charging StationTen months after Illinois lawmakers passed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act which set a goal of putting 1 million electric vehicles on state roads by the end of the decade, state agencies are engaged in a flurry of regulatory planning aimed at meeting those goals.

The effort to electrify the state’s transportation sector and ensure the power grid can meet increased demand involves the Illinois Commerce Commission, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the state’s Department of Transportation, and Illinois’ two largest public utilities, among others.

Between those agencies and utilities, there’s hundreds of millions of federal, state and ratepayer dollars available for EV charging infrastructure, vehicle rebates and other plans aimed at accelerating EV adoption.

While the regulatory force behind CEJA lies with several agencies, the task of ensuring all of them are working together lies in the hands of the state’s electric vehicles coordinator.

That person is Megha Lakhchaura, who was appointed to the position officially on July 1 at a salary of $180,000 after serving in an administrative capacity at IEPA since April.

She has previously served as the director of policy in North America for the electric vehicle supply company EVBox, policy director for the rooftop solar and battery storage provider Sunrun Inc., and public utilities regulatory analyst for the California Public Utilities Commission.

It’s a diverse private sector and regulatory experience which she said has helped her hit the ground running.

Read more here.

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Bike Sharing

Koloni bikes at the Palatine Metra station. Photo: Igor Studenkov

The northwest suburbs are poised to get a bike-share system of their own as Harper College, a community college based in Palatine, has teamed up with Koloni bike-share platform to launch a bike-share pilot. Meanwhile, Pace is launching a new bus route to serve the community college.

The fees are time-based – the first hour is free and each additional hour costs $2. Harper College students and faculty get discounted rates – the first two hours are free and each additional hour costs $1. They can also buy $15 annual passes that entitle them to four hours of free riding per day. Users can take bikes to any destination within Harper Community College District 215, which includes Palatine and much of the surrounding suburbs, including all of Arlington Heights, Barrington, Barrington Hills, Elk Grove Village, Inverness, Lake Barrington, Mount Prospect, North Barrington, Prospect Heights, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, South Barrington, Tower Lakes and Wheeling. The pilot will run through November 2022.

For the time being, the bike-share system is hampered by the fact that it only has two dedicated bike parking racks – one on campus and one at the Palatine Metra station – and each rack only accommodates five bikes. But Harper College is reaching out to other villages and government entities within its district to try to install more racks, which would make the service more practical in other parts of the district.

The bike-share pilot launches two years after the last bus to serve the Harper College campus, Pace Route 696, was suspended due to low ridership early in the COVID-19 pandemic. On August 8, Pace will launch a new Route 697, which will link the Northwest Transportation Center, a major bus transit hub in Schaumburg, and Harper College. Harper officials told Streetsblog that, while they were disappointed with Route 696’s suspension, they welcomed the Route 697 pilot, since the restored connection to the Northwest Transportation Center would help students taking the buses from further out in the district.

Read more here.

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The iconic and much beloved orange and black Monarch butterfly was added to the “red list” or classified as endangered on Thursday by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Scientists say its population has declined by as much as 84% from 1996 and 2021.

Stuart Pimm, an ecologist at Duke University who was not involved in the new endangered listing, called the news devastating, according to a report by NPR.

Why it matters: Monarch butterflies are pollinators, key to plant life. But they need milkweed to thrive and milkweed is typically viewed as a nuisance by both residential households and farmers.

Lincoln Brower, a leading entomologist at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, wrote that “the migration is definitely proving to be an endangered biological phenomenon.”

“The main culprit is now GMO herbicide-resistant corn and soybean crops and herbicides in the USA,” which “leads to the wholesale killing of the monarch’s principal food plant, common milkweed,” Brower wrote in an email reported by The Associated Press.


Related:Lightning bug populations are dimming. Here’s what we can do about it

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