The public is invited to help harvest prairie seeds at the first Fall Harvest Festival at the Nygren Wetland Preserve, 2810 W. Rockton Road, Rockton, Oct. 13 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The free, fun-filled event offers guided tours of one of the most beautiful natural areas in northern Illinois and opportunities to support conservation by participating in the harvest of the native plant seeds to use in restoration projects at the preserve.
Lucas Bradley, education coordinator for the Natural Land Institute, said the 720-acre Nygren Wetland Preserve is a special place to meet great people, learn about native plants and support land conservation in northern Illinois. Experts on plant identification and collection will demonstrate how to gather the seeds of plants like Indian grass, yellow coneflower and little bluestem, Bradley said. Once the seeds are harvested and processed, they will be planted elsewhere at the preserve to duplicate as closely as possible the original prairie that we know existed based on soil types and century-old records left by surveyors.
Bradley said another attraction at the Nygren Wetland Preserve is the abundant wildlife. While helping with the harvest and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, you might catch sight of some of the animals. The river banks, bottom lands and oxbow lakes are home to river otters, frogs and turtles. Fall migration is under way, an exciting time to see warblers, juncos, kinglets, sandhill cranes and a variety of waterfowl species making their journeys south, he said.
The Nygren Wetland Preserve is 1 mile west of Rockton. It is owned by the Natural Land Institute, a private, member-supported, conservation organization established in 1958 that preserves natural land in northern Illinois. The preserve is being restored to protect water quality, soils and native plants and animals. Sorry, no dogs are allowed on the preserve. For directions and information, call (815) 964-6666, go to www.naturalland.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
.from the Oct. 10, 2007, issue