Through careful stewardship, Loyola is working to improve and restore two sensitive ecological areas on the Retreat and Ecology Campus property: a wetland basin on the east end of the property and a surrounding oak woodland.
Currently, the campus features an artificial pond that, due to poor construction, has a failing berm on one side. Its outflow causes significant erosion. Sand bags are temporarily preventing the berm from blowing out and damaging surrounding areas. Loyola will work to decommission the pond and rehydrate the surrounding wetlands, transforming the area back into a complex wetland habitat that will support native grasses, sedges, forbs, and shrubs. The pond area will retain some open water.
By removing small invasive trees and brush from the surrounding woodland, the area will become much more open, and the majestic oaks will be more visible, balanced with an understory of native shrubs, small trees, and herbaceous plants.
Both the wetland and woodland will be accessible by pathways, and scattered benches will allow people to rest and contemplate. Trails will connect the open woodland and the wetland.
As part of this vision, Loyola is working to educate and engage students, the wider Loyola community, and the campus's neighbors in its ecological restoration and stewardship efforts. Loyola offers ecological courses and internships based at the campus, and holds monthly Restoration Workdays open to all Loyolans and the public.
Through these efforts, Loyola will promote the biodiversity of native organisms and control invasive species, so that these areas may help sustain the broader natural ecosystems of McHenry County and of the newly established Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge.
Current Restoration Activities
The following efforts are underway to restore the natural areas at the Retreat and Ecology Campus:
- Brush clearing (buckthorn and honeysuckle removal)
- Monitoring of water flow to and from artificial pond
- Seed collection and planting of native species
To get involved in ecological restoration at the Retreat and Ecology Campus, please contact Roberta Lammers-Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org.