How many of us have encountered potential restoration sites that seemed to have some potential, but the obstacles seemed a bit too daunting, or there simply wasn’t a clear path forward – a way to get the momentum going? The Manor Woods site in Glen Ellyn, IL is a restoration project being directed by the village’s Public Works department – and is an example of the gradual transformation of a neighborhood nuisance into an ecological asset.
The Manor Woods parcel is a wet, wooded area that is surrounded by residential neighborhoods. Over time, the parcel became overtaken by invasive trees and under story plants. Rather than being a place that drew people in, it had the opposite effect, and local residents generally avoided it. About five years ago the village embarked on an ambitious plan to transform and restore the site.
The early stages were devoted to the removal of significant amounts of debris, the removal of dead trees, and the clearing of woody invasive plants. There were few native trees of good quality, but those were retained to form the new backbone of the restored woods. In the intervening seasons, energy has shifted to the seeding of native seed mixes and the ongoing management of herbaceous weeds. The restoration of Manor Woods is turning the corner:
To be sure, there is a lot more work that will need to be done in the years to come. In 2016, the invasive plants are still dominant, but the newly seeded grasses and forbs are getting a toehold in and among desirable woody natives. Some five years in, the Village of Glen Ellyn Public Works Department is creating something special at the Manor Woods site. For this corner of the community, it is drawing people in, and is becoming an asset that will only get better in time.
There must be thousands of sites that started with the same humble beginnings as this one. But in this instance, a community made a commitment towards something better. Any restorationists looking for an inspiring case study to examine need look no further than the Manor Woods project.