The Chicago metropolitan area is home to far more protected nature than most people realize. Over half a million acres of protected land known as the Chicago Wilderness are owned and managed by county forest preserve districts and other public and private sector partners. But there's a critical factor of the Chicago Wilderness conservation effort that makes it unique: a pioneering grassroots volunteer community, thousands strong, has worked for decades alongside agency staff to restore these nearby natural areas, learning how to manage biodiversity in an altered and ever-changing urban context.
A Healthy Nature Handbook captures hard-earned ecological wisdom from this community in engaging and highly readable chapters, each including illustrated restoration sequences. Restoration leaders cover large-scale seeding approaches, native seed production, wetland and grassland bird habitat restoration, monitoring, and community building.
Contributions from local artists bring the region's beauty to life with vibrant watercolours, oil paintings, and sketches. A Healthy Nature Handbook is packed with successful approaches to restoring nature and is a testament to both the Chicago region's surprising natural wealth and the stewards that are committed to its lasting health.
Chapter 1: Restoration, Nachusa Style / Jay Stacy, Bernie Buchholz, Cody Considine, Bill Kleiman, and Kaleb Baker
- Toolshed: Meet the Parsnip Predator
Chapter 2: Backyard Seed Factory / Rob Sulski
Chapter 3: Reclaiming Sedge Meadow / Tom Vanderpoel
- Point of Craft: A Twist on Brushpile Building
Chapter 4: Monitoring Fit For A Steward / Karen Glennemeier
Chapter 5: Monitor Birds, See Ecosystems In 3d / Jenny Flexman
Chapter 6: The Society Of Stewardship / Stephen Packard, Linda Masters, and Eriko Kojima
- Toolshed: The Scythe
Justin Pepper is the Bobolink Foundation's Chief Conservation Officer. Bobolink's focus is biodiversity conservation in the Americas, emphasizing grasslands, wildlife, and community-based conservation. Don Parker is a Chicago-region freelance writer, editor, and illustrator with extensive experience in the field of conservation including as a longtime habitat restoration volunteer and leader.
"At long last: insights into one of the most interesting and encouraging exercises in ecosystem restoration: Chicago Wilderness. A joy of a book."
– Thomas E. Lovejoy, George Mason University
"For decades, grassroots volunteers have fanned out by the thousands across Chicago, devoting themselves to restoration of the region's diverse ecosystems. They have made this global metropolis a model and inspiration for all who care about the fate of human and natural communities. In these pages we get a view from the inside, and the great gift of lessons learned."
– Curt Meine, conservation biologist and author