Part 3. The backstory behind a TED talk.
Only so much can go inside the time limit of 18 minutes.
These four "backstory" posts include additional info and technical details.
The TED talk itself can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RICTPEFbRh8
The third quarter of the talk starts with the ambitious restoration plan approved (but not funded) by the Cook County Forest Preserve Board.
|In 2014, the Forest Preserve board approved a plan to expand restoration|
to 55,000 acres. The plan’s cover landscape is Somme Prairie Grove.
On the other hand, during this process, the annual budget for restoration has increased to about $5M/yr in recent years. When we started as volunteers in 1977, the budget was zero. We volunteers purchased our own tools. The change started when Commissioner Herb Schumann worked with Palos steward John Sheerin to develop the first real restoration budget (probably in the late 1980s).
When John approached the Commissioner, as I remember, he requested $10,000 (for the preserve's 68,000 acres). John apparently made a compelling pitch, as Schumann subsequently came through with an appropriation of $60,000. It was a pittance compared to what was needed, but it launched the program.
Flash forward to 2014.
Forest Preserve President Toni Preckwinkle announces a "Next Century Conservation Plan."
The plan calls not only for a budget of $40M per year but also 500 jobs for young conservationists.
Co-chairs who led the plan process were:
John McCarter, President Emeritus, Field Museum
Wendy Paulson, board member of Openlands and long time volunteer steward
Arthus R. Velasquez, Chairman, Azteca Foods
Eric E. Whitaker, M.D., CEO, TWG Partners LLC
This fine blue-ribbon civic-leader initiative is summarized at:
The full plan is at:
President Preckwinkle, staff, and forest preserve partners had been building toward this initiative for years. Volunteers had worked to restore natural hydrology with shovels. Now hydrologic experts provided sophisticated plans which, when needed, could employ mighty machines and other advanced resources.
|With increased funding, we can remove artificial drainage from former corn fields ...|
|… allowing natural ponds and wetlands …|
… to fill up and thrive again.
(Orland photos by Jeanne Muellner.)
|Now the forest preserve staff can supplement burns with …|
|… heavy equipment to clear brush rapidly – making community support|
and the more-detailed and careful volunteer restoration work
more crucial than ever.
|Back at Somme, our results are being studied by scientists from the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Chicago Botanic Garden, and others.|
|We – the people of Somme – are inspired by the ecosystem to work and learn.|
|We grow as ecological managers and teachers.|
A dramatic story could be told about every person in this photo. You'll read four of them in Part 4. But here it's worth mentioning that these people are a team. We appreciate the differing ethnic backgrounds and life histories that have brought us together - and given us different abilities to contribute. (Photo by Eriko Kojima)
With increasing still, we gather seed, conduct burns,
|operate chain-saws, monitor rare animal species, season after season,|
now for 40 years and counting.
Somme today hosts 14 species of threatened or endangered plants –
like the savanna blazing star – here providing nectar to a migrating monarch.Many rare species are being lost from conservation areas because of lack of care. Do wild plants and animals need care? Many people would say that, by definition, they don't. If we must care for them, they're not wild any more. Okay, but if they are dying out, and we don't want them to die out, then it makes sense to become stewards. All of Somme's rare species depend on the occasional controlled burns. If we waited for lightning to happen to strike these little patches on a dry day, we'd wait in vain. Some species depend on seed or pollen exchange with other populations somewhere else. The shaggy coats of bison and bears no longer transport seed across the landscape. Nature can be more rich and natural if we take care of it.
Recently two more birds of conservation concern – the red-headed woodpecker ...Red-headed woodpeckers used to be common birds. They became for a while the most rapidly declining bird species in the U.S. Their open woodland habitat was vanishing. With their conservation situation still dire, we felt a great vote of confidence when they returned to Somme as breeders.
and the American woodcock –
... returned for the first time in decades, to breed in Somme Woods.
To be continued in Part 4.
To review the TED talk: go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RICTPEFbRh8