News Release

Creek Side Cleanup: Environmental Stewardship

Students from the environmental science classes gathered on the campus banks of Navajo Creek on Thursday, April 2, in an effort to clean up the area and restore it to its natural balance. Dr. Frank Hensley, associate professor of biology, led the cleanup efforts along with Jack Pizzo, the owner of Pizzo and Associates, a habitat restoration company in Leland, Illinois.

“Having students get out and do the work is beneficial because it opens their eyes to what a restored habitat can be,” said Hensley. “Not only does it raise awareness, but it gives students an active way to contribute, rather than just learning in the classroom.”

The crew worked for several hours removing exotic species such as buckthorn and honeysuckle in order to restore balance to the ecosystem.  These exotic species disrupt the food chain because few insects feed on them. As these species continue to take over an area, they shade the ground, blocking the sunlight that native species need to grow and bloom.

“Removing invasive species is good stewardship,” said Hensley. “It is restoring the creation to what it used to be and helping it to function in healthy ways.”

The crew also removed a few native trees, particularly the Green Ash. This aggressive species dominates other desirable native species and is particularly vulnerable to the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive species from China. An estimated $25 million will be spent in Chicagoland this year to control the borer invasion. Removing young ash trees may help to slow the spread of this harmful species.

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