Putting Down Roots
DocumentingFrom the early 1980s on, Hoff, a chemist, and Sheaffer, an elementary school teacher, kept meticulous records of what plants appeared in particular areas of the path, and how their populations changed over time. These records form the basis of prairie preservation and restoration efforts.
PlantingSheaffer and Olson, a science teacher, had previously worked with the ecologists who restored prairie to Fermi National Laboratory in nearby Batavia in the mid to late 1970s. Sheaffer, Hoff, and Olson knew how to prepare the soil, who to contact to obtain the seeds necessary for prairie restoration, and how to maintain the restored prairies.
MaintainingPreserved and restored tallgrass prairies require a significant amount of maintenance by humans if they are to survive in a suburban landscape. Hoff, Sheaffer, and Olson have all organized and educated bands of volunteers to remove unwanted plants, reseed areas of prairie, and conduct controlled burns to reduce woody growth and open up the surface to renewed prairie growth.
Use the cards at the bottom of each page to explore various parts of the "Growing a Path from the Grass Roots" chapter. There will always be a card to take you back to the chapter introduction or you can go back to the Wild in the City overview.