Veteran Acres Park
Veteran Acres is a 156 acre community park with steeply rolling terrain and three diverse ecosystems; woodland, wetland and prairie.
The rolling hills of Veteran Acres Park are an example of an Oak Savannah. Oaks are the dominant species and other native trees include Maple, Hickory, Cherry, Hackberry, Black Walnut, Butternut, Redbud, Bitternut, and Ash. Non-native trees found in our woodland include Buckthorn, Honeysuckle, Tree of Heaven, Norway Maple, Siberian Elm, White Mulberry, Autumn Olive, and were probably introduced by the early settlers to the area. The Crystal Lake Park District has joined with Project Quercus to begin restoring the woodlands through the planting of new oak trees and the removal of invasive species.
The pond and wetlands at the bottom of the kettle are a result of both natural and man-made influences. In the three decades between 1940 and 1970, five inlets were built to drain storm water from surrounding roadways into the pond. The pollution from this water deteriorated the water quality and therefore the wildlife in and around the pond. A massive restoration took place in 1999 to restore pond life by the introduction of high quality wetlands. Today, wetland plants surround the pond to cleanse the water. Settlement basins on the west side of the pond catch roadway pollutants before they enter the pond.
Wingate Prairie is a dedicated Illinois Nature Preserve located on the eastern side of Veteran Acres Park. The parcel represents 33.5 acres of the remaining 59 acres of gravel hill prairie in Illinois. This unique prairie, with rolling terrain and an expansive view, is home to several rare and endangered plant and animal species. The prairie is named for Bill Wingate, educator and volunteer steward for 27 years. Thanks to his early efforts, the prairie has been preserved and restored into a precious community resource.
Why is Diversity Important?
A healthy ecosystem depends on a large variety of plants and animals that work together and depend on each other for survival. All species, no matter how large or how small, have an important role to play. Some of the benefits of diversity are:
· Protection of water resources
· Soils formation and protection
· Nutrient storage and recycling
· Contribution to climate stability
· Pollution breakdown and absorption
Image[s] provided by Weg Thomas