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Proviso Probe

Thursday, September 13, 2007

too many trees at Wolf Road Prairie?

Jim Hodapp is an activist who focuses on local ecology issues. He is also a former instructor at Proviso East High School.

He wrote the following letter to Steven Byers of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission.

Dear Steven M. Byers,

As you probably already know, the Wolf Road Prairie savanna is dying and is now on the verge of total collapse. The killer is shade.

The Prairie Society has a 1968 aerial photo showing the Wolf Road Prairie savanna with only about four large trees in it. Forty years later as a recent FPD management report (see attachment) indicates the savanna is no longer a savanna but a forest with a 90% canopy.

I remember 20 years ago when rare savanna plants bloomed in abundance...today White snakeroot dominates and the Prairie Lily has completely vanished from the savanna area of the prairie.

I am a long-time member of the Save the Prairie Society but am not writing to you as a member of that society since the Prairie Society has never voted or taken a position on whether or not the many scrub Burr oaks that popped up after the fires where stopped in the 1960's should be trimmed back to their original scrub oak size. I think they should be. Scrub Burr oaks are actually very fast growing trees their first 40 years of near fire-free growth. Twenty years ago they were tipi-pole-sized trees and now they are almost full-sized trees. We must act this winter or the rarest of the rare will have slipped away forever...Yes an extremely rare Burr oak savanna ecosystem at a dedicated Illinois Nature Preserve called Wolf Road Prairie will soon die...Why?..."to protect and maintain a grove of oak trees!" That makes no sense.

Oak tree groves are not rare; however original Illinois Burr Oak Savannas are very rare.

Please join the many people interested in restoring and preserving an ecosystem of major importance. We need to start trimming many of the oaks at Wolf Road Prairie back to their eco-healthy/scrub-oak size now.
Jim Hodapp

If you want a copy of Hodapp's attachment, email me, RadioNyberg circled "a" Yahoo spot c0m.

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  • Hoddap knows his stuff, and hopefully the Forest Preserve District will act on his recommendation to trim back/cut down the scrub oak trees.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:13 AM, September 14, 2007  

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