CHICAGO — Keeping one of Chicago's wildest places truly wild is a year-round effort conducted by dozens of volunteers.
Those volunteers at LaBagh Woods on the city's Northwest Side will plant the 1,000th native shrub on Sunday, marking the one-year anniversary of the first shrub planted as part of a massive restoration project.
A ceremony to plant the 1,000th shrub will take place from 9:15-10 a.m. at 5231 N. Cicero Ave. Like the previous 999 shrubs planted over the past year, the 1,000th shrub will be planted and surrounded by mulch and a protective cage. After the ceremony, 100 more shrubs will be planted.
The shrubs are key to helping wildlife thrive, because they are used as habitats by animals, provide a food source with the fruits and seeds they produce and can supply temporary shelter from predators.
"The strong volunteer stewardship community that has grown around LaBagh Woods and throughout the North Branch of the Chicago River has been very inspiring to see first hand," said Josh Coles, field organizer at Friends of the Forest Preserves. "In addition to planting native shrubs in the spring and fall, we also work year round cutting and burning invasive brush, collecting seeds, building and repairing trails, and many other activities. Anyone can join, and everyone has a skill that could be an asset to our group."
The restoration project was launched by the Chicago Ornithological Society, and that organization was joined by Friends of the Forest Preserves, Friends of the Chicago River, Bird Conservation Network and Forest Preserves of Cook County. The restoration work also includes removing buckthorn, an invasive plant that crowds out native species.
LaBagh is the home of animals found almost nowhere else in Chicago, including mink. Volunteers have recorded 187 bird species, including more than 45 that breed at LaBagh, plus 20 mammal species, 30 species of butterflies, 22 types of dragonflies, four turtle species and two types of snakes.
There are also 70-90 mushroom species and 200-300 native plant species.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here.