Exelon and ComEd Volunteers
at Wolf Road Prairie
Friday, April 29, 2011

Forty-seven Exelon and ComEd employees arrived at Wolf Road Prairie on April 29th for their fifth spring workday at the nature preserve. This year their destination was the northwest corner of Wolf Road Prairie and the task was to tackle the removal of a large swath of buckthorn and non-native trees adjacent to the wetland. Kevin Waden, Vice President and Controller of ComEd, sponsored the event. A volunteer from PECO (Philadelphia) joined the group.

Jack Pizzo, Pizzo & Associates, Ltd and SCGA board member, gathers a group of volunteers together for safety training before they head out to the work zone.

Exelon/ComEd volunteers pose for a group shot as a kick-off to their workday. Steve Byers, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, and Forest Preserve District of Cook County natural resource professionals, John Yapelli, Gilbert Rosario and Elliott Medina, prepared the site earlier in the day. Trees were downed and brush was cut so logs and branches were ready to be hauled and stacked when Exelon/ComEd volunteers arrived.

Volunteers move into thickets and gather cut branches and logs. Four brush piles take shape at strategic locations within the work zone. SCGA members join in.
Exelon/ComEd volunteer, Jim Weibel, mans a brushwacker and makes short work of a stand of buckthorn reprouts.
Exelon/ComEd volunteer, Wayne Avers,
collects logs to feed brush pile fires.
Heavy logs are no match for the strength and energy of Exelon/ComEd volunteers eager to clear the prairie. Tony Zugaj (in front), Scott Williams, Kwan Park, Chad Udovich and Corey Demaria (nearly hidden at the rear) carry a log weighing several hundred pounds. There is friendly rivalry to see who can haul the most brush or the heaviest logs.
Courtney Erickson, ComEd Revenue Accounting and coordinator of the Exelon and ComEd work team, carries a heavy log to a brush pile. "We always look forward to coming out to Wolf Road Prairie" she announces enthusiastically. "We always have a wonderful time." Behind Courtney, Exelon/ComEd volunteer, Kwan Park, gets ready to pick up logs. The back of his T-shirt carries the work team message - "Energy for the Community". An expanse of wetland can be seen beyond Courtney and Kwan.
After only 2 and l/2 hours or so of intensive work, about a half acre of wetland edge is cleared. The achievement is especially significant since this land was choked with brush before Exelon/ComEd volunteers arrived. Invasive species were competing with native plants and views of the wetland were obscured. The integrity and biodiversity of the Wolf Road Prairie wetland and prairie uplands were under threat.
Exelon/ComEd folks fan out across the work zone for a last look around and pick up any remaining brush and twigs before they head for home. One volunteer suggested, "We should come back for a tour later in the year to see how this area recovers once the native plants green in and also visit the site we cleared last year to see how it is doing."

At the end of the workday, the vast scope of clearing was starkly evident and tremendously rewarding to those who contributed time and muscle power to help Wolf Road Prairie heal. Wetland seeds in the opened areas will germinate and stunted native plants will begin to recolonize the land. Another section of Wolf Road Prairie is coming back to life.

Interested in a tour of the Northwest Wolf Road Prairie Restoration Zone?

Just contact SCGA at 708-865-8736. We'll be proud to show you around.

Gloves for the workday were donated in part by Menards and the Salt Creek Greenway Association.

Wolf Road Prairie is co-owned by the FPDCC and IDNR. Management and protection of the preserve is overseen by the INPC.

The SCGA has identified ecosystem restoration at Wolf Road Prairie as a priority project in the Greenway. Work conducted by SCGA at Wolf Road Prairie is with the approval and authorization of INPC and landowners.

Interested in volunteering at one of the finest prairie remnants in Cook County, Illinois and beyond? For more information contact:

Steve Byers, INPC at steven.byers@illinois.gov
Maggie Cole, IDNR at Maggie.cole@illinois.gov
John McCabe, FPDCC at john.mccabe@cookcountyil.gov
Jack Pizzo, Pizzo & Associates, Ltd. at jack@pizzo.info
Valerie Spale, SCGA at stpsspale@aol.com

Photos by Dave Waycie, volunteer photographer for SCGA

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