Q: Why does ParkLands have a “No Dogs” policy?
Many visitors to our preserves come to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature, or to observe wildlife in a native surrounding. Even when they are leashed, dogs disrupt native wildlife habitats and patterns. Many wild animals are sensitive the the very presence of dogs in their environment.
Many people are afraid of dogs, especially children. Your dog may be the friendliest animal on the face of the earth, but other people don’t know that.
Q: Why is it harmful to pick wildflowers?
Many of our native plants are dwindling in number as human activity diminishes or destroys their environments. The prairies are a good example; they used to cover millions of acres in the midwest, but now there are only a few areas where they can be seen. Accordingly, many of the plants that grew in them are now rare in the wild. Picking native wildflowers and other plants only hastens their demise.
Q: Why is ParkLands cutting so many trees at the Merwin Nature Preserve?
The cutting of trees is part of a project to restore a type of forest, called savanna, which grew here prior to European settlement. Savannas were largely composed of oak and a few hickory trees that were widely spaced with prairie grasses, sedges and wildflowers growing beneath the trees. Over the years, our upland forests have become more dense, smothering out plant species that require sunny, open areas to thrive. Cutting out smaller trees and shrubs ensures that oak trees, which require sunny areas, will be able to reproduce in the future.
Q: Why does ParkLands burn its woodlands and prairies?
Prior to 1830, when central Illinois was tall grass prairie and savanna, fire was a natural part the ecosystem. Fires set by lightning and American Indians kept the prairies from becoming brushlands and forests.
Fire benefits native plant growth by burning off dead accumulated plant material. Fire kills the above ground parts of shrubs and small trees. Prairie plants grow more vigorously when built-up plant materials and shade are removed.
Prescribed fire is a carefully planned and controlled fire conducted to manage natural areas such as prairie, oak savanna, wetlands and oak woodlands. It is conducted only under safe conditions. If you wish to assist ParkLands Foundation on a prescribed burn, contact our Land Steward for more information.
Q: Why should I become a member of ParkLands Foundation?
If ParkLands did not exist, the preserves where you are hiking today would not exist. They would almost certainly have been developed and dotted with private homes by now.
Our ultimate goal is to ensure that every citizen has access to the simple pleasure of walking in the woods, watching birds and mammals, seeing wildflowers in season, taking photographs and learning about our natural heritage. A key to ParkLands progress is a broad base of support through dues-paying members and a strong active membership is essential for our continued success. If you and your family wish to continue to see it succeed, we encourage you to become members of ParkLands Foundation.
For more information about ParkLands Foundation regulations, visit our Preserve Policies page.