09-29-23--Our growing season has been amazing, both for our native species and for minimizing invasive species, specifically white sweet clover and teasel. Our native species like prairie gentian and nodding ladies' tresses have propagated many times over and our seed harvest has been surprisingly robust on species like compass plant and prairie drop seed.
Our efforts to get rid of white sweet clover were successful. Not only were we able to pull and cut and toss the plant at the right time, we hauled out 65 bags of seeded stems from Bobolink Hill. We're seeing this nasty species declining significantly throughout the site and especially within our remnants.
03-25-23--In honor of Earth Hour, Hike the Nite was the best ever. By special permit from the FPCC, at 7:15 p.m. about 30 people hiked into the sunset along Birdsong Trail, turned left and were surrounded by the shrill peeps of American woodcocks all over the west side. It was a clear night so we watched overhead as stars emerged to twinkle in the darkness. We ended up in the parking lot about 9:15 with hot beverages, cookies and lots of conversation.
03-09-23--Sadly we say goodbye to our friend, Dan Pletcher. Dan passed away last Thursday. He and his wife, Annette volunteered on our Habitat Rescue Team for many years, monitored dragonflies, and much more. Dan was a true Friend of Orland Grassland, a true friend of nature. We miss him.
01-28-23--Brats and Burn cancelled due to weather. The target area to work was adjacent to a swale. Too wet, buried under continuing snow. Start a brush pile burning? No way. New date TBD.
12-2022--FPCC purchases 15-acre farm to the north of Orland Grassland. A pole barn to die for!! House is likely to be taken down.
11-20-22--Afternoon Chat-Amazing! Details to follow.
11-08-22--The referendum passed! That's very good news for Orland Grassland and all of the FPCC holdings. Thanks to all who were friends in nature.
09-01-22--Tony Del Valle from the Morton Arboretum is running a study on the impact of brush pile burns on the soil. He reached out to us and asked if we would like to be a part of it. We collect data on a survey form, and we also insert a probe into the center of the fire that collects heat data. His sites are in six counties in Illinois and he'll likely be able to share findings next year or so.
05-21-22--The Orland Grassland Grand Birding Event (OGGBE) was held on May 21st and the data is in.
Orland Grassland Land and Water Reserve, FPCC, is a remarkable place, a regional treasure. On May 21st it proved just that when the Orland Grassland Volunteers hosted the Orland Grassland Grand Birding Event (OGGBE) in honor of their 20th anniversary of volunteer stewardship.
OGGBE is a one-day snapshot of what birds are where throughout the site. Begun in 2005 by Suzanne Koglin and other site volunteers, it continued each year for ten years. Suzanne retired during this time and Jeanne Muellner Stacey continued leading the tradition until 2014.
We thought it would be a good idea to see how our birds had changed, or not, so we brought it back for this year. We’ve come a long way with restoration activities and seen many successes. We’ve been designated an Important Bird Area. Our remnant borders have greatly expanded and flourished with native wildflowers and grasses, the natural hydrology is settling in with water-filled swales and new ponds, and our field days are filled with background songs provided by grassland birds, the most threatened group of species in North America.
Orland Grassland has upland, prairie, swale, wetland, pond, shrubland, oak savanna and woodland habitats. The nearly 1,000-acre site was divided into ten sections and each section was assigned a birder and an Orland Grassland Volunteer (OGV) scout. Regional and local birders came in for the count and OGVs helped them navigate around swales and ravines, helping them recognize their boundaries.
Jeanne, OGV and one of the BCN monitors for Orland Grassland, again took the lead in collecting the tallies from the birders and compiling the data. She sorted it in many ways, making trend charts reflecting species, habitats and Birds of Concern. The birders: Nancy Buis, Linda Radtke, Chip O’Leary, Sharon Krygowski, Jenny Vogt, Mary Bernat, Lisa Rade, Aubrey Sirmon, Mike McNamee, Mike Ores, Jeanne Stacey, Daniel Suarez, Stephanie Beilke and Anastasia Rahlin.“Well isn’t this a surprise” said Marnie Baker. She also analyzed the data which included this pie chart that divided the total number of species into habitats. The woodland habitat has a lot of migrating warblers in May and that’s reflected in its total, but the number of shrubland species was a surprise when displayed in this way. Nesting grassland birds are of primary importance, but shrubland birds are challenged too and it seems we have them both.
Field Days, Meetings & Events Schedule
Orland Grassland volunteers and enthusiasts have plenty to do within each of the seasons on the grassland, each with its own natural splendor.
Orland Grassland--Every Wednesday and 2nd and 4th Saturdays, 9 til Noon
Old Plank Road Prairies-1st and 3rd Saturdays, 9 til Noon (between Central and I-57 just south of Rte. 30)
We need to know if you'd like to join us at one of our field days so we can get in touch with you to give you the meet up location. Sometimes we adjust the meet up time for the weather. Just "Contact Us" and let us know.
Minors are welcome as part of a sponsored group.
Who needs a gym? This field work, restoring our grassland and prairie to its natural splendor of days gone by, is a workout!
QUARTERLY VOLUNTEER MEETINGS
ALL ARE WELCOME!
7:00 to 9:30 p.m.
Orland Park Civic Center
14750 So. Ravinia Ave.
Orland Park, IL
01-23-24--Kris DaPra from the FPCC's Volunteer Resource Center will join us to demonstrate their new website for volunteers. We'll also discuss the Path to Stewardship program and find out who's certified for what. Join us to see the process behind the scenes. RSVP so we know how many chairs to set out and treats to provide.
02-24-24--Brats and Burn
9:00 til noon. This year we'll be setting up on the west side along Old Farm Trail at old 175th Street and 104th with parking in the subdivisions across the street.
Minors are welcome as part of a sponsored group.
Each year, after the freezing cold of January is behind us, we enjoy some sizzling brats and potatoes on the burning brush pile. We'll still be lopping shrubs and throwing them in the fire, but we knock off early to enjoy the food and each other.
Please RSVP so we know how to prepare. Just "Contact" us.
Orland Park Civic Center
14750 So. Ravinia Avenue
Orland Park, IL
Grand Tallgrass Prairie Seed Distribution
Meet up: 9:00 a.m. til noon in the parking lot on 167th Street just west of La Grange Road.
Join the Orland Grassland Volunteers in seed distribution. We've collected seeds, separated them from the chaff, and now it's time to give it all back to the prairie. We've taken it from our remnants and we're putting in places that need it.
We're hiking into the prairie wilderness, going off trail into our 1,000 acres as teams. If you know golf, think shot gun style.
You'll need steady balance and good stamina. Be sure to dress for the weather with sturdy shoes, jeans to protect your legs from burrs and scratchy plants warm jackets.
Watch for our eNews and our Orland Grassland Volunteers group Facebook page at
If you don't receive our eNews, hit "Contact Us" and ask to enroll and to RSVP.
Saturday, 04-22-23--Earth Day
Meet up: 9:00 a.m. til noon. We'll be setting up at the Outdoor Classroom which is at the spur off of the bike trail to the west of the parking lot. Tools and guidance will be provided for clearing autumn olive, callery pear and other invasive woodies. If trash collection is your thing, we'll have garbage bags a trash picks.
We'll be working off the trail and into the prairie. Dress for hiking in uneven terrain with sturdy shoes, socks that cover your ankles and jeans. Our grassland birds are arriving more and more each day, so you may want to bring binoculars.
This is good for families and children at least ten years old. All minors must be accompanied by their parent or be a part of a sponsored group. Organizations and clubs are welcome and the work can be used for community service hours.
Please RSVP to Marnie.Baker@gmail.com, or "Contact Us" above so we can plan for tools and treats.
Saturday, 03-25-23--Hike the Nite
Meet up: 7:00 p.m. til 10:00 p.m.
167th Street Parking lot, just west of La Grange Rd.
RSVP-"Contact Us" so we know how many treats to bring.
The gate will be locked behind us promptly at 7:15 p.m.
Bring a flashlight and dress for the weather. We'll be hiking on natural terrain along the Birdsong Trail footpath.
In honor of Earth Hour's lights out worldwide, we meet up at dusk, hike into the dusk along Bird Song Trail, and experience the night sounds and silhouettes on the prairie. At trails end, we warm up with desserts and hot beverages.
There may be stars to gaze, frogs calling, perhaps American woodcocks. A sight, sound and smell delight, we'll be unplugged and immersed in nature.
About Brats N' Burn
Usually in February, Brats N' Burn is a celebration of the Orland Grassland Volunteer's winter clearing work. We build our brush pile, toss foil wrapped packets of brats, green peppers, onions and potatoes into fire and set the table with condiments and sides. We take a break and eat a yummy lunch together. It's a fun time.
About Hike the Night
To honor Earth Hour, Orland Grassland Volunteers are host a night hike at Orland Grassland along Birdsong Trail from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. We hike into the grassland wildness along this natural terrain footpath to see the sun set, hear the frogs call and stargaze into the night. You may hear owls and see American woodcocks. Red tower lights twinkle from the silhouette of the Chicago skyline seen from atop Kwadekik Hill. You'll be unplugged, surrounded by nature, a multi-sensory delight.
Earth Hour is organized by the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) uniting people to protect the planet. See http://www.earthhour.org for more information.
About "Autumn on the Grassland"
It's fall and time to begin our seed harvest. We wander the site under the guidance of the Orland Grassland Volunteers and collect seed from our native plants. We have 1,000 acres to seed, and every precious seed counts.
About seed cleaning
Volunteers gather to clean all the native seed that’s been collected. Sometimes we rub the seeds over hand-made screens; sometimes we pry them open with our fingers; and sometimes we use a hammer to split them open. Whatever it takes, we get the seeds ready and sorted for Grand Seeding Day, just a couple weeks later. After that, nature will work her winter magic on them: the seeds will be denched and dried, frozen and thawed, until the spring sun tells them it’s time to take their rightful place in the open air.
About Grand Seeding Day
On this day, volunteers distribute all of the seed we’ve harvested and cleaned. When we gather in the parking lot, teams are formed to spread out over the site. Once in position, long lines of volunteers hand-shake priceless native wildflower and grass seeds into areas that are ready to receive them. Equipment is provided.