On Saturday, April 22, volunteers will start helping Prairie Meadows Park in West Dundee live up to its name.
Dozens of volunteers, armed with pruners, saws and trimmers, will work in the 38-acre park to reclaim it from the weeds and invasive trees that are casting shadows on the native plants.
Volunteer coordinator Becky Gillam said because so much work needs to be done, not all of it will be completed that day, and not all of the park will receive attention.
The volunteer project will be a fitting tribute to Earth Day, when West Dundee residents wipe and rake away winter's debris and reclaim the landscape.
"We're going to do as much as we can restoring the prairie to the park," Gillam said. "That area needs a lot of work. It's going to be a long process accomplishing all we want to, but it will be a good start."
Eventually, volunteers will plant seeds and nurture them to mature plants.
The project, even though it may take months, is worthwhile, said Joseph Cavallaro, village manager. Prairie Meadows recreation and nature sections are jewels to the village. All year people use it regularly, walking through it or playing sports in it.
The park is along Locust Drive and Eighth Street, behind the former Best Buy store. It holds soccer fields, playground equipment and an ice-skating rink, which is popular in winter. It also has a walking trail that brings nature lovers closer to the native plants.
Through the years the trees and weeds have grown faster than village public works employees could get rid of them.
Local Boy Scouts and members of the Dundee Township Boys and Girls Club will work alongside employees of Comcast Cares, one of the area's communications providers, and West Dundee Public works employees to cut the weeds and trees.
The cleanup project is an annual event for the village of West Dundee. Usually volunteers spruce up the downtown business district or the popular walkway along the west bank of the Fox River.
Attention will be given to solely Prairie Meadows because of the scope of the project, Gillam said.
In past years, at least three volunteer work days during the spring, summer and fall have been scheduled. Saturday is the first for this year, and the other two will be announced later.
"We want to see how much we can get done," she said. "We'll be working from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The more people we have, the more we can accomplish."
More volunteers are needed to make the work go faster. Anyone who wants to volunteer should meet at the park's shelter at 8 a.m. in work clothes.
"Some of the weeds are pretty tall. There's a lot of sticks in the area, so we're telling people not to wear sandals or open-toe shoes," Gillam said. "Boots or sturdy shoes are needed along with long sleeves, long pants, hats and gardening gloves."
Volunteers are also invited to bring their own plant pruners.
For details about the project, call the West Dundee village hall at (847) 551-3800.