Those driving east on Highway 20 might have noticed some changes to the visible, western slope of Horseshoe Mound since the sale of the property by the Richardson Family to the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation (JDCF) in December 2018. When JDCF acquires a property, they establish a wildlife habitat restoration plan to return native, historic Illinois habitat to the land. The plan on the western slope of Horseshoe Mound calls for restoration of the historic open oak, hickory woodland that once thrived there but is currently buried in the brush. Eager to begin the planned work in restoring the historic open woodland habitat (called oak savanna), volunteers from the Galena Area Land Enthusiasts (GALE) and the Northwest Illinois Prairie Enthusiasts (NIPE) have joined JDCF stewardship staff to start clearing off invasive trees and brush like European buckthorn, Japanese honeysuckle, white mulberry, and native invasive species such as eastern red cedar. “What may appear to be logging is really part of an extensive project to free the historic oaks, hickories, and walnuts from encroachment by non-native species. This will allow heritage native trees the space to keep growing and reproduce so that younger native Illinois trees can survive,” said Steve Barg, Executive Director of JDCF. “We are also re-purposing the cedar logs taken from the site for use in a proposed project at our Wapello Land & Water Reserve in Hanover,” Barg added. When conditions allow, the brush is being burned.
Members of GALE are onsite Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9 AM to noon and are always looking for new volunteers to help with the brush clearing.
“I am delighted to be working this winter on the Richardson addition to Horseshoe Mound – where the parking for volunteers is ample, the access is easy and the views are fantastic. There is an oak savanna in there somewhere. We should see quite a change by spring,” said GALE member Tom Cunningham.
“The western face of Horseshoe Mound is changing with swift efficiency. The public is being treated to a front row look at the collaborative work of Galena’s own JDCF, GALE, and NIPE groups returning an iconic local landmark to its historic state. It is truly an amazingly ambitious undertaking,” added GALE leader, Bill Reid. If you would like to join GALE, or if you have any questions about the work taking place at Horseshoe Mound, please call JDCF at 815-858-9100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.