Volunteer preserves native plants at Rock Run Greenway

Amy Alderman, TribLocal reporter

Marie Wendt of Joliet volunteers her time sweating it out in the heat and humidity, helping to manage native prairie plants, as mosquitos nip at her face and hands at the Rock Run Greenway Preserve on Essington Avenue.

Standing in layers of milkweed and goldenrod on Thursday, Wendt, a retired 2nd-grade teacher, pulls out pine cone sized clusters of thousands of seeds from an invasive plant called, teasel.

“If the plant is left to its own devices, it will take over the area,” Wendt said. “They can create so many seeds, they will choke out the vegetation.”

The native prairie plants not only call the preserve home, but also provide an ecosystem for other species, such as monarch and black swallowtail butterflies, which feed off milkweed and lay their eggs on wild carrot plants.

The preserve, with six miles of trails, is part of the Forest Preserve District of Will County and connects to wetlands and a waterway that runs from Crest Hill to Joliet and empties into the I&M Canal.

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