Back-to-Somme By-Pop­­ular-Demand Buckthorn Bonk

The Super Bowl is over, and there is nothing to look forward to before the spring thaw other than Darwin's Birthday (February 12, 1809 - but you knew that). Come on out with your backpacking friends for some vigorous outdoor exercise and a bonfire big enough to roast a buffalo! (And, lots of people have asked me to do this again after the fun we had in December.)

Here's the deal: Somme Prairie Grove is a tallgrass prairie-bur oak woodland complex that hosts spectacular wildflowers and groovy animals. It is getting healthier every year thanks to volunteers who have been removing buckthorn (an invasive European shrub), gathering & scattering native seed, and doing prescribed burning with the FPDCC (the landowner, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County). The results have been truly amazing, and the site has recently been recommended for Illinois Nature Preserve recognition. Isn't it empowering to know that you can help nature get healthier?

We will join the volunteers of the North Branch Restoration Project for a Saturday workday. We will meet in the Somme Woods parking lot at the corner of Dundee & Waukegan in Northbrook at 12P (don't be late) and then walk across the street to Somme Prairie Grove. The afternoon will be spent cutting buckthorn and piling up their invasive carcasses on a large bonfire, which will be roaring before we're through. There may also be some sowing of native seed in areas where the buckthorn has been cleared. We will stop at 3P and then we can sit around the fire and hang out until ~5:00P (the preserves close at sunset). I will bring a dutch oven full of sausages & peppers & onions that feeds 8 (or more if you share). You can bring whatever tickles your fancy if you feel like it. The fire is really quite large & quite hot, so don't worry about not having enough BTU's to cook something; scorching is the bigger problem... in other words, your food is more likely to get heat stroke than hypothermia!

Miscellaneous important details:

- Wear grungy wool and/or cotton, which is more forgiving of flying embers than all that expensive nylon we usually promote. Gloves & tools will be provided. Dress warm and in layers; between the exercise & the heat of the fire, I am usually down to a t-shirt even in the coldest weather. When you stop moving, however, you can get cold quickly and may need to put your layers back on ... although standing by the fire will also keep you warm.

- The regular North Branch workday is 9A-12P if you want to make a whole day of it. I will be there at 9A and will return to the lot to fetch our crew at 12P. The time extension is a favor granted by the site steward, as I thought it might be more amenable to people's schedules, as well as making the sit-around-the-fire bit harmonize with the sunset bit.

- There is no limit on the number of people who can attend, but please do sign up if you intend to come so we can plan the right number of tools & gloves. The usual $5 fee is waived since you are volunteering. And, I thank you for your time and energy on behalf of the purple prairie clover and the black-billed cuckoos and all the other neat things that will thrive in the wake of your work. Disclaimer: all the pretty blooming stuff and excellent animals are, of course, dormant & hibernating or migrated right now, but do come back in the spring to see the woodcock mating dance, the corkscrew-shaped, butter-yellow wood betony in bloom, and all that neat stuff!

- Let me know if you are willing to drive others or if you need a ride. I will arrange carpools as best I can, however, I may not be able to accommodate everyone if a large number of people sign up who need rides.

- If you plan to bring anything to share, please post it to the trip comments so others can make informed snacking decisions. Food is not required; I am not looking to make an over-provisioned potluck out of this, I just want people to enjoy the novelty of cooking something on a roaring fire outside. Whatever you bring, NO GLASS ALLOWED in the preserves!!

More info available at:

http://www.northbranchrestoration.org/

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  • Andrew Z.

    good time. The weather was beautiful towards the end. I enjoyed the snacks and the Bonfire and putting in a little hard work.

    February 17, 2013

  • David

    Thanks Joe for organizing. Great way to spend the afternoon and some tasty food.

    February 17, 2013

  • Gene B.

    I woke up this morning with a sore throat and congestion-- probably contagious. Looks like a beautiful day. Darn!

    February 16, 2013

  • Tony G.

    Have to work

    February 15, 2013

  • chris r.

    Hi, I have to back out, too. I'm recovering from the flu and figured I'd be okay for tomorrow, but judging by how I feel at the moment...

    February 15, 2013

  • chris r.

    This might be the best description I've ever read!

    February 15, 2013

  • Cassandra V.

    so excited for this event tomorrow! This will be my first meet up with the group and I can't wait to meet everyone! I will be heading out from Andersonville and have some room in my car so if anyone needs a ride let me know.

    February 15, 2013

  • Andrew Z.

    I'm actually participating in a real backpacking meetup!

    February 14, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I apologize, but I must also back out. I am definitely not at all happy about it and recognize it will pose an inconvenience to those who were planning to ride with me (Raven, Yunhui, Eric). I hope you all have a great time!

    February 14, 2013

  • Erin

    Hey, i actually have to back out :( I got a nasty cold and I'm pretty sure being outside in 20 degree weather wouldn't be the best plan :( I'm sorry!

    February 14, 2013

  • Jean

    We're probably going to make it; I need to leave town the next day but we're trying to make it happen :)

    February 14, 2013

  • Alex H.

    I'm new to the group, looking forward to meeting everyone! I will be driving from the Flossmoor area, if anyone needs a ride?

    February 14, 2013

  • Kate S.

    Hi! I can meet you there (wilson and malden) at, say, 10 30? Did you want me to drive or did you mean u want to drive and split the cost of gas?

    February 13, 2013

  • Kate S.

    I will be driving from the Uptown/Lakeview area, if anyone needs a ride.

    February 11, 2013

    • Bennett

      Hey Kate, I'm in Uptown and would prefer to split gas with someone. I'm at Wilson and Malden (near the Wilson red line stop)

      February 13, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I have a truck and am willing to carry 2 - 3 people with me. We will be leaving from near the Diversey El Stop (Brown Line).

    February 4, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Yunhui - 11:45 AM

      February 12, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Tim, I may be full. I'll let you know Friday.

      February 12, 2013

  • Tim

    New to Chicago and first event with the group! Look forward to meeting everyone.

    February 12, 2013

  • chris r.

    This might be the best description I've ever read!

    February 4, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Are you going?

      February 11, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Want a ride? I can fit one more.

      February 11, 2013

  • Kenneth K.

    I really wanted to do this, but I will be out of town. Thanks Joe for putting this together

    February 10, 2013

  • Amanda

    I can also drive from the Glen/ Northbrook train :)

    February 5, 2013

  • sandykurtz

    Sorry but I can't join you on the 16th.

    February 5, 2013

  • Lawrence R.

    I can shuttle people from the Dempster Yellow line, but I plan on a 9am start.

    February 5, 2013

  • Peter K.

    If people want to take the Metra to North Glenview or Northbrook, I can shuttle them.

    February 4, 2013

  • Erin

    Hey all! I'm new to this group but I'm looking forward to meeting everyone. I live in Naperville and have a small SUV so I can drive people if they need to if they live out this way. I'll be bringing something for food... Not sure what yet :)

    February 4, 2013

  • Gene B.

    Sounds good!

    February 4, 2013

  • Sean T.

    Sorry, out of town!

    February 4, 2013

  • nikhil t.

    Sounds great! Hope to make the next one!

    February 4, 2013

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