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Print

Winnebago County Forest Preserve District unveils reforestation plan for preserve

June 04, 2012 at 05:09 PM

Rockford Register Star

Blog post from Kevin Haas:

Scorched tree stumps and small sprouts of newly planted prairie seed characterize a time of transition for Roland Olson Forest Preserve.

In December, the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District authorized more than 2,200 pine trees to be chopped down from the preserve in an effort to restore the land to its natural prairie.

The decision was protested by residents near the preserve, who now wait to see what will become of their neighboring woodland.

“What we walk through now is kind of a mess. It’s muddy, there are torn-down trees burned and charred,” said Judy Kennon, who lives near the preserve. “There’s nothing much we can do now but wait and let things grow.”

District officials are set to introduce residents to the longterm plan for the preserve at an open house Tuesday. Officials say the original prairie plan was tweaked to incorporate more indigenous trees, including oak, hickory and cedar, which residents requested after the pines were removed.

“It was a melding of what the forest preserve has determined is appropriate for that site and some of the uses and improvements that the neighbors wanted to see,” said Jamie Johanssen, director of marketing and community relations for the district.

The three-year plan calls for the transition to a mesic prairie and savanna. District officials said the challenge was to blend the urban features of the park — which include soccer fields, a shelter and path system — with the conservation area. The type of soil and terrain in the preserve wouldn’t typically have as many trees as proposed, but more plantings were suggested to appease residents requests.

“We’re staying true to the course of what we know and feel is right, but at the same time we’re trying to listen to ideas and suggestions,” said Vaughn Stamm, the district’s director of operations.

Residents can view the plan at a meeting from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the shelter house at Roland Olson, 9669 Atwood Road, Roscoe.

Check back to rrstar.com or read tomorrow’s print edition for more. See a video of Johanssen explaining the plan below.

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