The Chicago metropolitan area is home to far more protected nature than most people realize. Over half a million acres of protected land known as the Chicago Wilderness are owned and managed by county forest preserve districts and other public and private sector partners. But there’s a critical factor of the Chicago Wilderness conservation effort that makes it unique: a pioneering grassroots volunteer community, thousands strong, has worked for decades alongside agency staff to restore these nearby natural areas, learning how to manage biodiversity in an altered and ever-changing urban context.
A Healthy Nature Handbook captures hard-earned ecological wisdom from this community in engaging and highly readable chapters, each including illustrated restoration sequences. Restoration leaders cover large-scale seeding approaches, native seed production, wetland and grassland bird habitat restoration, monitoring, and community building.
Contributions from local artists bring the region’s beauty to life with vibrant watercolors, oil paintings, and sketches. A Healthy Nature Handbook is packed with successful approaches to restoring nature and is a testament to both the Chicago region’s surprising natural wealth and the stewards that are committed to its lasting health.
"With so much pervasively depressing environmental news, the uplifting success stories featured in this handbook are refreshingly optimistic and inspirational. The book should be required reading for any volunteers who want to become more effective, and for natural area stewards who want to augment their land management efforts with the help of a cadre of informed and motivated laypeople."
Natural Areas Journal
"Much of our knowledge on the effectiveness of habitat restoration practices comes from direct experiences like the ones presented in this book, and testaments such as this one deserve support."
"At long last: insights into one of the most interesting and encouraging exercises in ecosystem restoration: Chicago Wilderness. A joy of a book." Thomas E. Lovejoy, George Mason University
"For decades, grassroots volunteers have fanned out by the thousands across Chicago, devoting themselves to restoration of the region’s diverse ecosystems. They have made this global metropolis a model and inspiration for all who care about the fate of human and natural communities. In these pages we get a view from the inside, and the great gift of lessons learned." Curt Meine, Conservation Biologist and Author
Dedication Preface Introduction Acknowledgments
Chapter 1: Restoration, Nachusa Style \ Jay Stacy, Bernie Buchholz, Cody Considine, Bill Kleiman, and Kaleb Baker - Toolshed: Meet the Parsnip Predator Chapter 2: Backyard Seed Factory \ Rob Sulski Chapter 3: Reclaiming Sedge Meadow \ Tom Vanderpoel - Point of Craft: A Twist on Brushpile Building Chapter 4: Monitoring Fit For A Steward \ Karen Glennemeier Chapter 5: Monitor Birds, See Ecosystems In 3d \ Jenny Flexman Chapter 6: The Society Of Stewardship \ Stephen Packard, Linda Masters, and Eriko Kojima - Toolshed: The Scythe