Pictured below is a photo of one of our Environmental Science Classes that took a trip to the Openlands North Shore Preserve. On this particular day, the youth wrote about their observations of the three distinct ecosystems (moraine valley, oak savanna, and lake shore dunes) that exist at the Preserve.
This is really a wonderful site because it creates multiple entry points for learning by providing an opportunity for the youth to observe nature and to see signs of geologic time, such as erosion of the valley walls due to invasive species and heavy rains.
In some areas of the Preserve, there are plants that provide few, if any, benefits. Fortunately, there are a number of plant communities that do a great job of slowing down the process of erosion through their root systems, which act as a net to hold soil from being washed away by the water. And during our visit to the Preserve, youth were able to observe the stark differences between areas that had heavy restoration work done, including controlled burns, and those that are in need of additional work.
All of these wonderful preservation sites sit in the center of a 170-year old army base called Fort Sheridan. The valley that we studied was historically used by the base to transport goods and weaponry from the lake shore to the base at the top of the bluff.