Twenty-three volunteers recently labored for four hours while planting 160 trees and shrubs on a portion of Libertyville Township Open Space.
Volunteers of all ages worked as part of a two-year project initiated by the Lake County Audubon Society.
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Called "Birdscaping the Liberty Prairie Reserve," the program began in 2012 with native seeds planted along the trails that wind through the area south of Casey Road and west of the Casey Farm. The program was advanced with the cooperation of Libertyville Township, under the leadership of Supervisor Kathleen O'Connor.
The project was funded with matching funds donated by the society and a private local foundation.
"The goal of the second phase, funded in the same way, is to plant high-quality native shrubs and trees along the trail to provide and expand habitat, food, and shelter for birds and other animals," said Paul Geiselhart, who originated the project.
"These plants are to provide animals with high-energy food during different seasons of the year," Geiselhart added.
Other benefits of the project include stabilization of the stream bank and erodible areas in the Liberty Prairie Reserve, and educating residents of Lake County about the importance of native plants that support unique animal habitat.
This will enhance the experience of hiking the Millennium Trail system with connections to Independence Grove Forest Preserve.
The shrubs and trees, including a variety of oaks, have been tagged and fenced to protect them from deer damage, and township employees will water the plants early in the growing season as needed.
The volunteers are members of the Lake County Audubon Society and Conserve Lake County, with local residents and others interested in helping to improve the area that had once been a dairy pasture.
Visit www.lakecountyaudubon.org for more photos of the planting day or visit the Facebook page for information on upcoming events and birding in Lake County at www.facebook.com/lakecountyaudubon.