Help Build the Wildlife Corridor

Restoring nature is no longer relegated to preserves and national parks. The average home gardener or landowner can now participate in this vital activity through the use of native plants in their landscapes. If enough neighbors and congregations and schools plant native gardens, we will create what is called a “Wildlife Corridor” in our community.

Wildlife corridors work by increasing connectivity between patches that are isolated because of habitat fragmentation, due primarily to urbanization, agriculture, and forestry. West Cook Wild Ones, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating our community about extending conservation into our yards, has been engaging residents and organizations in creating landscapes that feature native shrubs, trees, plants, and grasses as a way to increase biodiversity in the Oak Park/River Forest area (including Chicago, Berwyn and other surrounding towns).  With enough yards acting as habitats for wildlife, we can support populations of beneficial species who are here either as year-long residents or as migrants.

Planting native gardens helps rehabilitate lost ecosystems, promotes biodiversity and contributes to a healthier environment. And according to Wild Ones, “situated in the appropriate conditions and once established, native plants are low-maintenance, requiring little (if any) additional water, no fertilizer, and no pesticides.”

Without changing how we treat our landscapes, we risk losing many of the other species here on earth because ecosystems begin with plants that are native to a region.

Oak Park Temple is doing its part to create a native habitat for bees, butterflies and birds with a newly planted native garden in our planter on Harlem Ave. OPT is now part of the Wildlife Corridor. If you would like to learn more or help with the garden contact: judy.klem@gmail.com.

Here are some tips from Wild Ones about how you can become involved:

  • Plant native trees, shrubs, and plants, especially host and nectar plants and let us know at http://westcook.wildones.org/, so we can add you to the Corridor map.
  • Become a member of West Cook Wild Ones and come to programs
  • Start an organic vegetable garden and/or join a CSA or community garden (many herbs are host plants for butterflies)
  • Do NOT use pesticides
  • Do NOT use lawn services that use synthetic fertilizers (waste of $) or “mow and blow” – i.e., using loud machines that emit high levels of CO2 and leaf blowers that blow away possible overwintering butterflies and other beneficial insects
  • Water for butterflies should be provided in the form of a puddle in a sunny area, preferably near the butterfly garden.
  • Provide water for birds (clean, fresh water is appreciated by birds)
  • Prevent bird collisions into house/business windows
  • Allow some area of your yard to be undisturbed habitat which will help support our native bees and other beneficial insects
  • Volunteer for habitat restoration workdays with the Forest Preserves
  • Become a Citizen Scientist – monitor birds, plants, insects, etc.
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