DUNNING — Determined to help restore an oasis of 23 acres of wetlands and woodlands nestled along Chicago's western border, volunteers have formed a new group to protect the Dunning-Read Conservation Area.
The group, which has yet to settle on a name, held its first event Oct. 24 to rid the area of weeds and invasive species, pick up trash and prepare the area for winter, said group leader Jason Quaglia.
The group plans to help the Friends of the Parks maintain the oasis and hold regular events and fundraisers, including weekly walks through the wetlands during the summer, Quaglia said.
Other events in the planning stages include a spring clean up, a seed exchange and plant sales.
Open to the public from March to November, the site features a ¾-mile walking trail, a small rain garden and a plant nursery. The site is an ideal place to educate the public about the need for biodiversity, according to Friends of the Parks, which has been working since 2007 to restore the land to its original state.
Visitors to the passive park can see rare animals not often seen in the city, including prairie crayfish and garter snakes. Coyotes also frequent the grounds, and red-tailed hawks often search for prey there, according to Friends of the Parks.
The conservation area was once part of the grounds of the Chicago-Read Mental Health Center.
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