By Jeff Skrentny
(Read at the planting celebration of the 1,000th shrub at LaBagh Woods 10/30/16)
LaBagh is home to many things;
Almost 200 native plants,
including a handful of very rare ones,
One found for the first time just this year;
Five species of mighty native oak;
Plus numerous other native hardwood tree species;
More than 100 mushroom species,
one that even GLOWS in the dark;
30 species of butterfly,
one discovered in 2015 that was thought gone in Cook County;
22 dragonfly and damselfly species;
and countless yet to be ID’ed other insects;
Twenty (20!) mammal species,
including American Mink, Red bat, Coyote & Red Fox;
Four turtle species, including one rarely seen in Cook County;
Two snake species (they are GREAT);
Three frog species, and maybe four;
Five fish species (maybe six after a Sunday find);
For our urban setting, One rare crawdad;
One rare mussel, unfortunately now rare;
AND, AND, nearly 190 bird species,
Most just migrants that pass through needing to be fed,
158 of which were seen this year.
It’s not a throw away urban forest.
It is home to hundreds of fellow travelers of Spaceship Earth.
With apologies to the author (hold up The Lorax by Dr Seuss),
The author who first raised environmental consciousness in me
as a child with the nurturing of love for the outdoors
which both my parents instilled in me:
Now that you’re here,
the word of the restorationists seems perfectly clear.
UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to bet better.
Listen up closely.
This is important to hear.
You’re in charge of this forest.
This forest LaBagh that’s so near.
A forest like LaBagh is just what everyone needs.
Plant native shrubs. Treat them with care.
Give them clean water. And feed them fresh air.
Grow this forest. Protect it from invasives that attack.
Then the migrating birds,
and all of their friends
will keep coming back.