We are a highly experienced natural area management company that's passionate about maintaining restored landscapes and ecosystems.
Our company offers every management service such as stewardship, prescribed fire, invasive species control and ecological monitoring / reporting. All our services aim to create the most beautiful and functional natural areas that meet or exceed the client goals.
Restoration is an investment that requires careful and responsible management in order for the restored ecosystem & landscape to remain sustainable and continue to thrive.
As a team, we follow a three-step process to successfully achieve landscape sustainability: stewardship, prescribed fire, and ecological monitoring. Stewardship is active and dynamic management, the natural systems tell us what to do. Stewardship activities include hand pulling, brush cutting, mowing, and selective application of herbicide. Prescribed fire is a tool that mimics the historic presence of fire in our ecosystems. Our ecosystems are not fire tolerant, they are fire dependent. Lastly, ecological monitoring is a science-based system used to measure performance and progress.
Our natural area management services are available in the Greater Chicago, IL area, including Lake Forest, Barrington, and Naperville. We also serve surrounding states like Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Call (815) 495-2300 for a quote.
Stewardship: Active and adaptive management of natural areas.
Nature is dynamic. There is no set schedule to what happens every day, week, month, season, or year. Every change in the weather has impacts upon the natural systems. In stewardship, timing of the activities is critical. We know that if a site was designed and installed properly or is a remnant system making the native plants grow is not the issue. In horticulture they use the term “right plant in the right place”. That is simply ecology. The right native plant in the right conditions will thrive. What we do in stewardship is make the aggressive and invasive species not grow. We also harvest & plant the native seed produced onsite, install enhancement plantings, create functional enhancements such as signage, educate the users, and manage the look of the site.
Stewardship begins immediately after restoration and is the most intense stage of the land establishment period because the beauty and performance of the landscape depend on the quality of stewardship.
Managing Aggressive and Invasive Species
We work under the premise that none of these plants should reproduce. If we keep to that we start with a finite number of bad plants. Through hand pulling, brush cutting, targeted selective herbicide treatments and mechanical mowing we will turn the tide on the weeds. Proper timing is key to their control. We may wait to hand pull one species until a day after it rains. Waiting until then allows us to pull the entire plant out of the ground with minimal soil disturbance. If we minimize the soil disturbance, we get less weeds. With other species we may wait until they are in full bloom and then brush cut them at the ground. This completely eradicates the plant. Other species we wait for the proper timing to apply herbicide to kill that plant and that plant only. Targeted applications leave the good native plants to take over the area. New areas may require site wide mowing with tractor mounted mowers. Cutting the weeds at the critical time keeps the sun light coming to the small native seedlings. They thrive after mowing. Eventually site wide mowing is stopped when the native plants become established.
North American ecosystems aren't fire-tolerant, they are fire-dependent. Prescribed fire is also known as "controlled burn", this historic process is used as a seasonal cleanup tool. Prescribed fire removes last season’s light colored debris and darkens the ground with ash. Burned soils are warmer and allow the ecosystems to grow faster and have a few more weeks of productivity. Regular prescribed fire is an important part of stewardship that helps manage weeds, increase plant diversity and enhance the beauty of the site.
Harvesting and Planting Native Seed Produced Onsite
On both new sites and remnant systems native plants flower. The flowers are designed to produce seed. We collect that seed and spread it into areas in need of more native plants or to diversify the site.
We can always add new species to a site. New species add to the habitat value for wildlife and make the site more beautiful.
Clients want to use their sites in new ways. We can install piers, fishing platforms, viewing platforms, trails, and other enhancements.
We offer a full range of educational products and services to our clients. We can design and install educational signage, assist in website content, lead tours, and speak to groups of all sizes and interests.
Manage the Look of the Site
We encourage our clients to use the sites. Nature is the best medicine. We know however nature can get a little wild sometimes. We manage your paths and spaces to keep the vegetation tame adjacent to those areas. We also provide litter control as we know the wind moves litter in and sometime people are less than attentive with their waste.
Ecological Monitoring and Reporting
Our ecologists and landscape architects can monitor any size site to help meet the project requirements.
Required monitoring and reporting are usually required when a site is under development or a permit is issued. There will be a schedule, term and performance criteria stated in the permit. The site must meet the performance criteria to close out the permit.
Contact Us to Set Up a Consultation Today
Our company provides sustainable solutions to ensure your land is naturally beautiful as well as functional. We don't approach nature with a quick fix mindset, rather we work with a landscapes' natural conditions over time to achieve ecological success.
Call us at (815) 495-2300 to set up an evaluation appointment today for your property. We serve the Greater Chicago, IL area, including Lake Forest, Barrington, and Naperville. We also serve surrounding states like Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa.