Through the Conservation@Home program, residents of Cook County are encouraged to adopt “Forest Preserves Friendly” practices while providing wildlife and native plant habitat in residential, school and workplace gardens.
Landowners can earn a Conservation@Home certification and sign for their yard by filling out an application, meeting easy-to-follow criteria, and inviting a Conservation@Home evaluator to their yard for an evaluation. The criteria include:
- Property features native plants
- Owner is actively working on the removal of invasive species
- Plantings and management practices attract wildlife
- Water conservation practiced with rain barrels or rain gardens
- Minimal use of chemicals is minimal and/or use of organic fertilizers
Have Your Land Evaluated
For a one-time fee of $50, certified landowners will receive a Conservation@Home sign to post in their yard, receive early notifications of upcoming Conservation@Home programs in the Forest Preserves, as well as a seasonal newsletter.
Coordinated in partnership with University of Illinois Extension, Conservation@Home is valuable because “it is spreading the information and awareness of ecology, its impact, and what we as individuals can do with our own property to make a difference,” says University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Helen Mazzocco. “One individual at a time can help clean the air, water, soil, and provide native habitats for all to benefit.”
Typically landowners who plant native flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees see an increase of colorful birds and butterflies in their yards. These native plantings also provide an array of colors and dimension to a garden and will tolerate droughts, lessening the need to water.
Public programs will be offered throughout the Forest Preserves that provide opportunities for people to learn about the program and how simple efforts benefit native plants and animals.