Spring 2008
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Woods of Wisdom

Spring 2008


"All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants and animals, or collectively, the land ... a land ethic changes the role of Homo Sapiens from conqueror of the land – community to plain member and citizen of it ... it implies respect for his fellow members, and so also respect for the community as such."

--- Aldo Leopold, "Sand County Almanac"


The Dance of Spring

Like mountain rams, they faced off, nose to nose, their bodies flattened to
the ground and spread low. Like infants, they wiggled their wings, imitating
the beckoning coaxing of a hungry baby bird, except in this display, only
shaking their outermost primary feathers while taking notice of every nuisance
of each others movement in an interpretive dance that nature has given only
them to decipher. With seven other bright red bodies looking on from the
shrubs, they all took notice of the spectacle, keeping tabs on the outcome to
determine where they would place in the yet to be determined order. With
Winter slowly relinquishing its hold, the seed stores depleting and the winter
insects being gobbled up, domination at the feeding sight becomes more and more
important. And though the normal territorial instincts have been
temporarily been set asides in the name of warmth, order must still be maintained for
the betterment of the species.
And even the mosquitoes make use of the wet, on this warm February day,
after a long, dry and hot summer, which kept them and the ticks at bay. But
without the shock of freezing weather, the promise of their return in large
numbers looms heavy in the future.
Even the Carolina Wren, though not so secretive, has joined the fracas
and sits beside me, enjoying the sunflower seeds, crushed and opened for his
convenience - a trait seldom seen by this voracious bug chaser. And the
Hermit thrush, who appears for just a moment, leaves behind its beautiful flute
like call with its exit. Though no real cold weather hovers in the near
future, the frenzy remains great, with a great variety to observe.
And when the two have finally sorted out the winning display, the victor
heartily chases the loser away, only to be chased away himself, by a more
dominating figure in the chain. And thus the order continues and is noted by
the also squabbling, (and magnificently multi-colored), females and the
remaining males of the pack. What a joy to be surrounded by such a group of
beautifully christened scarlet birds. It is no wonder that the Cardinal graces the
stamps of so many territories as state bird.

-- Nighthawk



Principles of Smart Growth

Preserve Open Space, Farmland, Natural Beauty and Critical Environmental Areas

Growth is inevitable; Sprawl is not.

Community planning for Smart Growth recognizes the fact that market forces coupled with sound conservation principles yield a very workable, sound and efficient plan for land development. Forward thinking cities and towns in many states have embraced the CSD concept of smart growth and open space protection of remaining open space.


If we keep doing what we have been doing, where are we heading?

Your favorite lands that are not already preserved will probably not be recognizable in twenty years:

bulletThat local deer-filled forest, meadow and river valley;
bulletThe centennial Christmas tree farm with its red barns where you cut your annual tree; & the farm where you can pick your own blueberries;
bulletThe family farm where you buy sweet corn and pumpkins.


"Can you put a value on a river? On the cry of an animal? Unless you can convince people of the spiritual value of the environment, the cause is lost. Take the Tibetans, who recently began trimming their cloaks with tiger and leopard skins from India because of their new wealth. The Dalai Lama got up and said, "This is against your religion," and the Tibetans stopped wearing skins. There's a strong spiritual responsiveness to the environment."

George Schaller – field biologist


It does not have to be this way ....

Conservation subdivisions preserve 50-70% of the buildable land, while still allowing the same maximum number of home sites as conventional subdivision development. Home sites are strategically placed for maximum views of natural lands.

Homeowners can enjoy the walking trails among the wildlife and natural lands. Conservation subdivisions provide an alternative to the destruction of the land from conventional grid style subdivision developments.

According to an article on conservation subdivisions in Big Builder magazine (May 1, 2006), "Leaving land in its natural state or building trails through it is cheaper than building infrastructure or golf courses. The results show that lots in conservation subdivisions carry a premium, are less expensive to build, and sell more quickly than lots in conventional subdivisions.

Together, the results show that conservation subdivisions are more profitable to developers than conventional subdivisions, and that lots in conservation subdivisions sold in about half the time as lots in conventional subdivisions must be advantageous to the cash flow of developers.

Smart growth uses the term "open space" broadly to mean natural areas both in and surrounding localities that provide important community space, habitat for plants and animals, recreational opportunities, farm and ranch land (working lands), places of natural beauty and critical environmental areas (e.g. wetlands). Open space preservation supports smart growth goals by bolstering local economies, preserving critical environmental areas, improving our communities’ quality of life, and guiding new growth into existing communities.

There is growing political will to save the "open spaces" that Americans treasure. Voters in 2000 overwhelmingly approved ballot measures to fund open space protection efforts. The reasons for such support are varied and attributable to the benefits associated with open space protection. Protection of open space provides many fiscal benefits, including increasing local property value (thereby increasing property tax bases), providing tourism dollars, and decreases local tax increases (due to the savings of reducing the construction of new infrastructure). Management of the quality and supply of open space also ensures that prime farm and ranch lands are available, prevents flood damage, and provides a less expensive and natural alternative for providing clean drinking water.

The availability of open space also provides significant environmental quality and health benefits. Open space protects animal and plant habitat, places of natural beauty, and working lands by removing the development pressure and redirecting new growth to existing communities. Additionally, preservation of open space benefits the environment by combating air pollution, attenuating noise, controlling wind, providing erosion control, and moderating temperatures. Open space also protects surface and ground water resources by filtering trash, debris, and chemical pollutants before they enter a water system.






"You never can tell what your thoughts will do,
In bringing you hate or love;
For thoughts are things, and their airy wings
Are swifter than carrier doves.
They follow the law of the universe -
Each thing must create its kind,
And they speed o'er the track to bring you back
Whatever went out from your mind."

-- Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Why Protect Nature?

The following information is selected from the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission (NIPC) publication, "Protecting Nature in Your community: A Guidebook for Preserving and Enhancing Biodiversity". The suite includes the guidebook, executive summary, slide presentations and technical assistance sessions for local government officials. These can be downloaded from the NIPC website at http://www.nipc.org

Quality of Life, Recreation, and Aesthetics

Natural areas enhance the quality of life for people, and they help define community identity by connecting residents to the natural landscape in which they live. A recent national survey of home buyers found that natural open space, walking and bicycle paths, and gardens with native plants were the three most desirable amenities for residential areas. Hiking, bird-watching, fishing, and photography are some of the more common activities enjoyed by many of the region’s residents who utilize natural areas or even just reside near them.

"Natural areas, parks and open space create a high quality of life that attracts tax-paying businesses and residents to communities." -The Trust for Public Land, 1999.


Recreational use is increasing across the nation, as well as in northeastern Illinois. In fact, 40 million visits each year are made to forest preserves in Cook County alone. These areas make the region an attractive place to live and work, and enhance the economic and development value of the region. Healthy, functional natural areas, rather than degraded ones, are what people in the region are seeking for recreation. The Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission (NIPC) recently adopted a regional water trails plan designating 480 miles of the region’s waterways as trails, and 174 sites for canoe and kayak access. Clean water, healthy streams, and wildlife can enhance the paddling experience for water trail users.

"What’s really important? It’s the personal things. A tree, a child, flowers. We need to soften the cities. Neighborhoods need nature."

-- Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.


Economic Value

A number of studies have shown that parks, open space and natural areas enhance the economic value of an area. Not only does the preservation of open land cost less in services than other uses, it has been found that some types of development, especially residential, cost more in community services than they generate in taxes. A pair of 1998 studies by The Trust for Public Land found that while land conservation projects caused a short term rise in local property taxes, over the long term communities that had protected the most land enjoyed the lowest property tax rates. This may be because less development means less public expenditures for roads, schools and infrastructure (The Trust for Public Land, 1999). Furthermore, owing to the increasing desire of people to have access to open space and natural areas, proximity of natural areas to residences may enhance property values. Recreational opportunities also generate income and economic activity for communities through local businesses that profit from increased recreational traffic and tourism.

bulletApproximately $85 billion is generated for the U.S. economy each year by people who feed birds or
bulletobserve and photograph wildlife.  Wildlife watchers spent $29 billion on trips, equipment, and other expenditures in 1996; Sport fishing alone boosted the nation's economy by $ 108 billion in 1996, supporting 1.2 million jobs and generating household income of $ 28 billion
bulletAcross the nation, parks, protected rivers, scenic lands, wildlife habitat, and recreational open space help support a $ 502 billion tourism industry
bulletAt present rates of growth, the tourism industry will soon become a leading U.S. industry.
bulletEstimated value of all economic benefits generated by a single acre of wetland:
bullet$150,000 to $200,000."

Source -The Trust for Public Land, 1999.


"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
An eternity in an hour."

-- William Blake


Naturally vegetated landscapes—including prairies, woodlands, and wetlands—provide a number of services that are highly beneficial to humans and ecosystems. They control erosion, help retain stormwater, help clean the air of pollutants, mitigate global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and help shelter and cool our homes (The Trust for Public Land, 1999). Most importantly, these services are provided absolutely free. Research has shown that these services depend on properly functioning ecosystems, which in turn depend on the diversity of plants and animals—biodiversity—that make up those ecosystems. The major consequence of losing these ecosystem services and replacing them with human-made substitutes is the enormous cost of designing, building, maintaining and improving our own services. Add to this the likely risk of never attaining the efficiency with which nature provides them. A more complete list of environmental benefits follows.


A variety of microorganisms break down plant and animal matter to create healthy, nutrient-rich soil.


Native plants help conserve soil and water by preventing erosion, maintaining air moisture near the earth’s surface, and storing water.


A multitude of insects, birds, bats, and other animals pollinate the majority of crops and other plants on the planet, many of which are pollinated by only one species.


Natural landscapes moderate climate extremes by absorbing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, trapping heat in the winter, and providing shade in the summer.


Native plants improve air quality by continually absorbing gases and particles from the atmosphere and producing clean, essential oxygen.


A diversity of plants and animals preserves genetic diversity, which helps maintain evolutionary processes and store genes with potentially beneficial human uses.


Native plants help protect water quality by filtering and cleansing water, while microorganisms break down some pollutants and contaminants.


Native plants and their extensive root systems promote the infiltration of rain and stormwater into the ground where it can help replenish the groundwater table and maintain baseflows into wetlands and streams.


Natural areas naturally absorb precipitation and thereby reduce flood damage

"There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story."

--- Linda Hogan



Public Support

Surveys indicate that the public supports initiatives to protect our land and waters. As noted below, this has been demonstrated recently by the passage of four county referenda and the state allocating public funds for land acquisition and management. A 1998 American Farmland Trust survey found that residents of Kane, McHenry, and DeKalb counties support protecting open space from development to preserve or enhance natural ecosystems and wildlife habitat. Furthermore, a survey by Chicago Wilderness indicates a willingness by residents to pay up to $19.67 per household per year in additional property taxes ($59 million per year) for new wilderness restoration and expansion activities.


Recent Local and State Initiatives Supporting Land Preservation


Kane County residents pass  a $70 million referendum by 66 percent to buy 5000 acres of open space (1999)


Will County residents pass a $ 70 million referendum by 57 percent to buy 6500 acres of open space (1999)


Lake County residents pass a $ 35 million referendum by 66 percent to buy 4000 acres of open space and $ 20 million for habitat restoration, trails and other improvements (1999)


DuPage County residents pass a $ 75 million referendum by 57 percent to buy 2000 acres of open space (1997)


The State of Illinois establishes the Open Lands Trust Act providing $ 160 million for state and local governments to acquire open space (1999)


A Unique Opportunity

An initiative to protect biodiversity, such as that being led by Chicago Wilderness, is rare. Indeed, few regions of the country have taken such progressive steps to protect their natural heritage. By implementing some of the ideas mentioned in this guidebook, communities can contribute to this unique opportunity to become one of the first metropolitan regions in the world to undertake such a progressive and historic task. The Chicagoland region is known for being the first and best in many things, and our environmental efforts can be added to that legacy.

While contributing to global biodiversity may seem like a lofty goal to local citizens and governments, preservation at the local level is the most effective means of protecting global biodiversity. Furthermore, communities can contribute to biodiversity protection and the preservation efforts of forest preserve districts and others without adversely affecting the way they normally operate. Slight shifts in a community’s focus, minimal modifications of ordinances, and a general commitment to biodiversity protection can achieve critical results.

"Chicago Wilderness is a tremendous repository of biodiversity. And while there are other great repositories like this—the Great Smoky Mountains, the Florida Everglades—the fact that this one is in a metropolitan area makes it unique."

-John Rogner, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.



Spiritual Values

The mere idea of wildlife in our midst, especially when we have contributed to its protection, is valuable to many and improves the quality of life. Many people feel a moral and ethical imperative to protect wildlife and the diversity of life from the impacts of development. Reasons for this include a desire to protect other species from extinction, religious values associated with cherishing the earth and its inhabitants, and the desire to leave for future generations that which we are able to enjoy.


"Our native landscape is our home, the little world we live in, where we are born and where we play, where we grow up and finally where we are . . . laid to eternal rest. It speaks of the distant past and carries our life into the tomorrow. To keep this pure and unadulterated is a sacred heritage, a noble task of the highest cultural value."

---Jens Jensen.






Audubon Society Spring Field Trips

Saturday, April 26: Iroquois Conservation Area – We are going in the evening to watch the woodcock mating ritual known as the "skydance". We should see a number of other species as well. Meet at the St. Anne Shell Station at 6:00 P.M.

Saturday, May 3: Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie – There are many orioles and other songbirds here. We should also see shrikes, upland sandpipers, and bobolinks. Meet at the Midewin HQ on IL 53 north of Wilmington at 8:00 A.M.

Saturday, May 10: State Count Day – the KVAS is responsible for the bird count in Kankakee County. We will be observing in several parts of the county. Call Dave Atkinson, John Baxter, or Etta Aubertin if you would like to participate. Call Etta Aubertin for reporting forms if you would like to observe on your own.

Saturday, May 17: Aroma Forest Preserve – This is a beautiful are with a variety of habitats. The trail is an easy walk to the Kankakee River and back. Meet at the parking area on Hieland Road, 1.4 miles south of IL 17 at 8:30 A.M.

Saturday, May 24: Davis Creek – Davis Creek is a beautiful area and often has many species of migrating birds. Meet in the Davis Creek parking area at 8:30 A.M.

Saturday, May 31: Perry Far – We will walk through the prairie and wooded areas to the river. Meet in the parking lot by the Exploration Station at 8:30 A.M.

Saturday, June 7: Sweet Fern, Pembroke – This is the property of Marianne Hahn and she is graciously allowing KVAS to visit. Meet at the Aroma Forest Preserve lot at 8:30 A.M. and we will carpool from there. Ticks are abundant so dress accordingly.

Saturday, probably June 14 (date is not confirmed): Purple Martin Open House – Steve and Donna Domogala have attracted a large colony of purple martins to their yard on the Iroquois River near Watseka. You will be able to look in nests at both eggs and baby martins. Go south on IL 1 a distance of 5.2 miles south of the interesection of IL 1 and US 52. Turn right on 2100 N. Go 1 mile to the T with 1930 E and turn right. At the next road (2150 N) turn left, go to the first lane (1/4 mile) and turn left. Follow the lane back another ¼ mile and then follow the lane to the right and you’ll be there. Go on your own anytime from 8 A.M. until dusk.

Also, KVAS is invited to a program, "Demands of a Migratory Annual Cycle: Problems and Solutions", at the Midewin HQ at 7P.M. on Thursday, May 1. Chris Wheland will look at why birds migrate, and at the biological and ecological implications of an annual migration.

Send correspondance to Etta Aubertin, 7388A S 2500E Rd., St. Anne, Il., 60964. Please make checks for dues payable to Kankakee Valley Audubon Society. If you have e-mail please send your e-mail address to Dave Akinson at datkinsn@olivet.edu. This will allow us to send you notices and perhaps future schedules.

Contact information:

David Atkinson, President: 932-6457

Etta Aubertin, Secretary-Treasurer: 427-8303; email: JJETA303@aol.com

John Baxter, Field Trip Chairman: 937-5059; email: Xxjb7z@aol.com

Annual dues:

Single: $5.00;

Couple: $8.00;

Family: $10.00

Kankakee Valley Audubon Society is an affiliate of the Illinois Audubon Society.



Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.

--- John Muir


eastern red-cedar
Juniperus virginiana L. var. virginiana

Family Cupressaceae

Juniperus virginiana is a tree with a columnar growth form and leaves. Most leaves are small (<3 mm long), scale-like and tight to the branches. There are always some leaves of this type present. On some plants there may also be longer, spreading awl-shaped leaves 3-6 mm in length, but most leaves will be of the first type. The leaves are often green or bluish green, but may develop a strong reddish coloring late in the growing season. The mature female cones are nearly spherical, blue, often glaucus berry-like structures, similar to the other Junipers.

The Red Cedar is actually a juniper. Juniperus virginiana ranges across the eastern U.S.A. from southeastern South Dakota to Texas, east to Florida and New England. It is common in dry or sandy soils and old fields.

It has a medium growth rate of 12-24 inches per year with sticky foliage that is a dull green and in the winter can turn brown or purple. In the open its branches extend to the ground providing excellent wildlife cover. It is native to most of the US from Canada to Florida and Texas.

It normally grows 30 or more ft tall with some specimens reaching over 80 ft and 30 ft wide. It can live a very long life with some specimens in Iowa are over 500 years old on rocky high spots. Wind and ice storms sometimes damage its small root system and weak wood. Deer will not eat this species, have seen some damage by rabbits in a very bad winter. The female plants have a large number of berries that many kinds of birds eat.

It will grow in the poorest of soils and does not prefer the better or moist soils. It seems the higher the soil PH the better this plant likes it and will grow in the middle of a gravel road and be happy. Likes an airy site and should not be planted in the middle but on the outside of windbreaks for longest life.

This species will tolerate hot dry weather better than any evergreen. The red Cedar when planted in windbreaks can be affected by a serious fungal disease called phonopsis that usually starts at the bottom of the tree and spreads up the tree. On wet years it can be very bad and on dry years seems to disappear. Should not be planted in low areas or in high moisture areas along water areas to reduce this problem. The red cedar also carries a fungus (a gooey glob of orange tentacles on its branches) that causes a leaf and fruit spot on apple trees, so if you want to grow some apple trees also consider this problem. Excellent plant for dry sandy areas where other species would not survive.

For the "urban forest" on your own property, the Red Cedar is a good windbreak tree but consider all the conditions above when selecting this tree. It is highly recommended for a single row windbreak. A 2ft-potted tree can be over 8 ft tall in 5 years in well-drained soil, low moisture, and weed and grass control at the base of the tree. Spacing- Single row 10 ft apart, Double row 12 ft apart between rows and plants, multiple rows 20 ft between rows and plants. Plant trees that come from your native area if possible for best survival.

Go to this Internet link to read about ancient cedars in Wisconsin’s Door County:


Ethnobotanical information

This information should not be considered complete or definitive and is for reference only. Care must be taken when using any wild plant for food, fiber, medicine or any other non-traditional uses. The information was complied using multiple sources and reliable references should be consulted for more complete descriptions of usage(s) and potential health risk. We are not responsible for any ill effects from the misuse of information included on this page.


Uses Part Preparation Effect Notes
Rope/fiber  Inner bark      
Utility Trunk/branch     Carving, furniture, fence posts, mothproofing
Dye  Fruit

Inner bark



Medicine Fruit



Compound decoction



For worms, itch

Herbal steam for rheumatism







On Trail at Your Forest Preserve

– call Jean Hurrle at 815-549-9072 for information on times and dates for current programs at your forest preserve. Spring and summer programs include moonlight hikes, wildflower and native prairie walks, and animal tracking. You can also find our programs advertised in the Daily Journal and WLVI radio, or check out "programs" on our website: http://www.krvfpd.org 


"There must be some force behind conservation more universal than profit, less awkward than government...something that reaches into all time and place where men live on the lands...A voluntary decency inland use exercised by every citizen and landowner out of a sense of love and obligation to that great biota we call America. This is the meaning of conservation..."

--- Aldo Leopold


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last updated on August 26, 2013