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Zander Woods undergoes restoration

Rare ecosystem ranks as Number 2 priority

information provided by Forest Preserves of Cook County

Zander Woods
In the forest preserves along Thornton-Lansing Road, at various times drivers have noticed machinery, clouds of dust, and/or piles of wood shavings. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma, 1/23/18)
THORNTON, Ill. (January 21, 2018) – Lansing residents who drive to South Holland or Homewood via Thornton-Lansing Road have noticed machinery and activity taking place in the Forest Preserves’ Thornton-Lansing Road Nature Preserve, commonly known as Zander Woods. Stacina Stagner, Communications Manager for Cook County Forest Preserves explains, “This site is undergoing ecological restoration as part of a multi-site project across southern Cook County in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.” The restoration project will cost $999,725, and it is being funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to protect and restore Great Lakes habitats.

Zander Woods has been identified as the Forest Preserves’ number two priority restoration site because it is a rare sand savanna ecosystem in Cook County. The preserve is currently dominated by black and white oak trees that are shading out many of the habitat’s rare native plants. The 140-acre project will include tree removal, with an overall goal of increasing light levels on the ground.

The project is part of The Millennium Reserve Compact – Uniting to Control Invasives project, which includes 12 sites totaling nearly 300 acres of wetlands, prairie, and savannas that will be restored. Partners include Audubon Great Lakes and Greencorps Chicago, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, Chicago Park District, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, Southeast Environmental Task Force, and the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

About 60 acres were completed last winter, and crews are working hard to finish up this year.

Zander Woods
Heading south along the frontage road, evidence of the project is more clear, and a sign describes the ecology of the area. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma, 1/23/18)

Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.