Oregon program highlights natural beauty of Illinois

By Drs. Robert & Sonia Vogl
President and Vice President,
Illinois Renewable Energy Association

Chris Benda
Chris Benda

Those who love seeing beautiful, rare plants or visiting natural areas will enjoy the Prairie Preservation Society’s annual Banquet program.

Chris Benda, botanist and President of the Illinois Native Society, will talk and show slides on Illinois’ unique natural areas and the interesting plants found in them.

Every photograph, every slide, is met with “Oohs and Aahs” by audiences of this program. Not only for serious students of natural areas, Benda claims that this program is “very relatable to anyone who loves nature or just likes pretty things.” Emphasis will be on rare plants, but the program will also include photos of animals.

The program will highlight eight of the 14 natural divisions in Illinois. Each natural division is unique and is characterized by the plants that grow there. One of the natural divisions featured in the talk will be the Rock River Hills Section, which includes Nachusa Grasslands, Pine Rock, and the George Fell Nature Preserve. These local natural areas are included in the program; they contain some rare and showy plants.

If landowners think that they own an area that is representative of a high-quality plant community, they can seek additional information about adding it to the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory.

Benda is one of five botanists who worked on the Illinois Natural update from 2008 through 2015. He explained that this is the most important work being done in the state, quoting George Fell, founder of The Nature Conservancy and the Natural Land Institute, “If we do not save what we have now, there will never be another chance.”

The banquet and program will be held on May 1 at the Lorado Taft Field Campus, 1414 N. River Rd., in Oregon. There will be social hour and sales beginning at 5 p.m.; dinner at 6 p.m.; and the program will begin at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $25 each; children under 12 are half price. Books and native plants will be sold; a silent auction will also be held. It is open to members and to the general public. For more information on the program, or to donate to the auction, email lin.vogl@gmail.com or phone 815-973-4926.

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