Whistler Woods Seed Collection Promises Rebirth for Restored Areas

Photos by Mark Hauser/Friends of the Chicago River

A land restoration effort at Whistler Woods, a Cook County forest preserve near south suburban Riverdale, recently resulted in a number of large bags of seeds being collected for redistribution in the future.

Funding for the Whistler Woods effort is provided through a grant from the National Environmental Education Foundation. For over twenty years, NEEF has partnered with Toyota Motor North America to provide a variety of grants and awards to support national and regional environmental preservation projects.

Friends of the Chicago River and its Centennial Volunteers partners are focused on removing non-native plants from the Forest Preserves of Cook County to improve biodiversity. Seeds for native plants that may serve as food for birds and mammals are used in areas where non-native, invasive plants such as buckthorn have been removed. 

The recent Whistler Woods effort included collecting silky wild rye grass, Canada wild rye, bottlebrush grass, woodland brome grass, fowl manna grass, and American germander seeds among others.

Arnold Randall, general superintendent of the Forest Preserves of Cook County, said the agency “deeply values its long-standing partnership with Friends of the Chicago River.”

Cook County Forest Preserve General Superintendent Arnold Randall speaks with Friends of the Chicago River Executive Director Margaret Frisbie at Friends' Big Fish Ball in 2019.

“Together we are restoring our public lands and waters for the benefit of people, plants and animals, which at Whistler Woods has included a bald eagle. We are especially excited about this project as it links to our visionary Centennial Volunteers initiative to mobilize people to heal and nurture the land,”  Randall said.

Founded in 2014, Centennial Volunteers is a partnership between Friends of the Chicago River, the forest preserve district, and Friends of the Forest Preserves. In 2018, the Centennial Volunteers program, which works in nine sites across Cook County, recorded 242 work days involving 3,538 volunteers who contributed 12,486 hours to the program.

NEEF’s National Public Lands Day is the largest single-day volunteer effort for America’s public lands and will be held this year on Saturday Sept. 18. More information is available here.