BUSSE FOREST NATURE PRESERVE
Chipping sparrow photo by Jack Pizzo, Jr.
The 440 acre Busse Forest Nature Preserve is one of the richest and most diverse natural areas owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. According to the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, "the site contains flatwoods, upland forest and marsh communities of the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division. The flatwoods of northern Illinois are a particularly interesting feature. These areas formed long ago in slight depressions, where the soils are somewhat compact and poorly drained. This environment provides unique growing conditions for a mixture of swamp white oak, ash, red maple, blueflag iris, sedges and sensitive fern. The marsh community is present in larger glacial depressions that retain water most of the year. The upland forest canopy species include red oak, sugar maple and basswood while woodland wildflowers such as jack-in-the-pulpit, wild geranium, bloodroot, woodland phlox and trilliums cover the forest floor." In addition to other species of oak and stands of hickory known to the preserve, the site also provides habitat for ducks, geese, shorebirds, mink, muskrat and other wetland and forest wildlife.
Busse Forest was dedicated as the third Illinois Nature Preserve in January 1965. Busse Forest was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1980.
Busse Forest Nature Preserve is part of the 3,700 acre Ned Brown Preserve which includes the 590 acre Busse Lake. Approximately 11 miles of paved trails wind through the site as well as a two mile packed earth trail offering a glimpse of the secluded woodland interior. In addition to hiking and biking, other recreational opportunities include bird-watching, fishing, canoeing, rowboating, sailboating, picknicking, cross-country skiing and other nature related activities. It is estimated that 2.5 million people visit Busse Forest each year, more than the number of people who visit Yellowstone National Park annually.
Preparing for a brush pile burn - Photo by Jack Pizzo
Currently, a $1.8 million large scale restoration plan is under way at Busse Forest. The project involves removal and herbiciding of buckthorn and other invasive species such as reed canary grass and garlic mustard. The 1,000 acre restoration project area is scheduled for controlled burns over a three year period. The project may also involve cover-crop seeding and the introduction of native plant plugs.
Spring ephemerals carpet the woodland floor after the burn - Photo by Jack Pizzo, Jr
Staff from the Forest Preserve District of Cook County have walked the entire site multiple times during the past year and will continue to monitor restoration progress. The Busse Forest restoration project will require several years to fully implement.
For more information about the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, go to www.fpdcc.com
For information on the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission go to http://www.dnr.state.il.us/inpc
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