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Orland Grassland group to look at recent past and future with Jan. 5 meeting

A Savanna Blazing Star with a Monarch butterfly can be found in Orland Park. (Photo submitted by the Orland Grassland volunteers)

A Savanna Blazing Star with a Monarch butterfly can be found in Orland Park. (Photo submitted by the Orland Grassland volunteers)

The Orland Grassland Volunteers can look back at a successful 2011 — and  ahead to 2012 when they host a free public meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 5 at the Orland Park Civic Center.

Steward Pat Hayes called 2011 the group’s “best year yet” thanks to more native wildlife, wildflowers and grasses returning to the area in numbers not seen in more than 50 years.

“The work of the many partner organizations under the guidance of the Forest Preserve District has turned a mess of woody invasives into a rare and beautiful place, one of great honor for Orland Park and the Southland,” Hayes said in a news release.

Hayes also praised the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for combining habitat restoration with its work of flood management and water quality improvement.

“Huge masses of invasive shrubs not only kill out plant and wildlife, they contribute to erosion,” she said. “We’ve been cutting away at brush for almost ten years now. There are areas in the site that are vibrant with the results of our work, but it would have taken us many decades, even with the help of the Forest Preserve District and interns, to reach the point the Corps has brought us to now.

“The volunteer group will still have much work to do every year, but the heavy lifting has been accelerated, and that’s good for us.”

Photos by Jeanne Muellner will be on display at the meeting.

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