About the Tour |
On October 17, 2006, UDPREP hosted its third annual watershed tour, "Green Design in Action: Stormwater Solutions.” Nearly 50 stakeholders enjoyed the day touring projects sites that showcase watershed-friendly approaches to developing land and managing stormwater.
Tour Stop #1
The tour began at the Vernon Hills Village Hall, which won a 2003 Conservation and Native Landscaping Award from Chicago Wilderness and US EPA for the naturalized shoreline along the facility's detention pond. Tour participants gathered in the Village Hall board room for welcoming remarks from UDPREP's Coordinator Alison Cook. Village Engineer Dave Brown also welcomed participants and spoke about Vernon Hills' experiences with environmental improvements.
The morning's keynote speaker was Tom Price, Director of Water Resource Engineering at the Conservation Design Forum. Tom talked about the purpose of green design and the value of increasing on-site stormwater infiltration (especially in our flood-prone watershed). He also gave an interesting and helpful overview of design options available to homeowners, municipalities, and others. Tom has generously agreed to allow UDPREP to post his presentation on our web site. Click here to download Tom's presentation.
Tour Stop #2
Following Tom Price's excellent introduction to green design, the group boarded the bus and headed to the next tour stop: Ryerson Conservation Area Welcome Center. This brand new building boasts a long list of watershed-friendly features, including geothermal climate control, bioswales, a permeable parking lot, two rain gardens, and a cistern.
While enjoying a delicious lunch, donated in part by Whole Foods Market, the group learned about the Welcome Center's many fascinating characteristics from the building's architect, Bill Sturm.
After lunch, Nan Buckardt, Environmental Education Manager for the Lake County Forest Preserves, led a tour of the grounds. Standing in the Center's permeable parking lot, participants were impressed as they watched water from a garden hose soak right through the special asphalt. Nan gave a positive report on the success of the new parking area and talked about her hopes for more permeable paving in our region.
Nan also showed off the facility's new rain garden and talked about their techniques for monitoring water levels in the garden. Meanwhile, several tour participants snapped pictures of the many bioswales in the parking lot. Bioswales are sunken vegetated areas that facilitate stormwater infiltration and water pollution reduction.
Such was the group's fascination with the Welcome Center's features, and Nan's informative commentary, that it proved a little difficult getting everyone back on the bus! But Nan reminded participants that they are welcome to come back any time to visit, and she is happy to book large group trips to the site in the future.
Tour Stop #3
The group then headed south to the Skokie Public Library. Located just outside the watershed boundaries, the library boasts a 6,000 square foot green roof which is not normally open to the public. Library Director Carolyn Anthony generously granted UDPREP special permission to visit the site. Carolyn was on hand to talk about the library's experiences with the roof, including the library board's strong commitment to the effort, the challenges of renovating a popular public resource, and their overall positive experiences with the project.
The technical part of the presentation was handled by Jay Tulley of Riddiford Roofing and Jeff Valentine of Siplast. These two companies managed the library roof installation, and their representatives talked about the process and answered numerous questions about materials, installation, and maintenance.
Back on the bus and heading west, the group listened to a brief presentation by Patty Werner of the Lake Co. Stormwater Management Commission. Patty talked about current and future subwatershed planning efforts and announced an upcoming tour of the Bull Creek subwatershed (a tributary of the Upper Des Plaines River Watershed).
Tour Stop #4
As the bus pulled up to the final tour stop—Cumberland School in Des Plaines—the group was greeted by several people familiar with the eight-year-old rain garden on the school grounds. Bill Eyring of the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) talked about how a small band of teachers, students, and volunteers turned this perennial "wet spot" on the playfield into a thriving garden and useful teaching tool. Bill also talked about CNT's new online green infrastructure tool at http://greenvalues.cnt.org .
Local natural areas steward Ken Schaefer described the origins of the plants on the site and the techniques he uses to maintain the garden. Ken is a leader in seed collection and distribution in the area and generously offered to share seeds with others who are interested in starting a rain garden. Ken can be reached at 847-635-2617.
Cumberland School neighbor Nick Chiropolos talked about his strong support for the project, and he and Ken Schaefer laughed as they remembered how uncooperative weather made the initial planting effort very difficult – but funny in retrospect! Nick said that he takes morning walks past the garden nearly every day, and he shared stories of his many interesting wildlife sightings near the garden.
Several representatives from the school district talked about the garden's importance as a teaching tool and the district's support for conservation efforts.
As the tour adjourned, the group took one final walk around the circumference of the Cumberland School rain garden, enjoying the beautiful display of autumn golds and reds so common to native plants at this time of year.
UDPREP is grateful to the following individuals and organizations for their help with the tour
(in alphabetical order):
Lunch provided in part by Whole Foods Market.
- Carolyn Anthony, Skokie Public Library
- Dave Brown, Village of Vernon Hills
- Nan Buckardt, Lake Co. Forest Preserves
- Nick Chiropolos
- Alison Cook, UDPREP Coordinator
- Bill Eyring, Center for Neighborhood Technology
- Gillie Kilner, Whole Foods Market
- Dip Nguyen, School District 62
- Scott Oldham, Graphic Designer
- Tom Price, Conservation Design Forum
- Ed Rechner, River Trails Park District
- Ken Schaefer, Oakton Community College/Natural Areas Steward
- Lydia Scott, Village of Lincolnshire
- Staff of the Ryerson Conservation Area Welcome Center
- Bill Sturm, Architect
- Jay Tulley, Riddiford Roofing
- UDPREP Planning Committee
- Jeff Valentine, Siplast
- Susan Vancil, Lake Co. Stormwater Management Commission
- Mindy Ward, School District 62
- Patty Werner, Lake Co. Stormwater Management Commission
Coach services donated by the Lake Co. Stormwater Management Commission.
Additional financial assistance provided by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' Conservation 2000 Program (C2000)