Just as growing communities need to upgrade and expand their built infrastructure of roads, sewers and utilities, they also need to upgrade and expand their green infrastructure.
Green infrastructure is interconnected system of green spaces that conserves natural ecosystem values and functions, sustains clear air and water, and provides a wide array of benefits to people and wildlife.
It is a community’s natural life support system, the ecological framework needed for environmental and economic sustainability.
The Flagg-Rochelle Community Park District has been working with Land and Water Resources to fully reconfigure Deer Creek and to restore the natural species throughout the area. The project came about when the Army Corps of Engineers was looking for a replacement project within the watershed after a Rock Island Airport expansion forced the mitigation of a stream near Moline.
This project will be the first big step toward achieving the goals of the Skare Park Restoration Master Plan developed for this site in 2013. The project will restore more than 50 acres of the site including restoring Deer Creek which traverses the site from east to west. The creek was straightened and channelized sometime in the early to mid-1900s and this project will re-meander the creek to approximately what it would have been prior to straightening.
Instream habitat will be introduced and the entire length within the park, approximately one mile, will be stabilized.
As part of the project, a significant acreage on both sides of the creek will be restored to natural conditions. This will involve removal of non-native and invasive trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants and planting native species to restore the area to conditions similar to those that would have been present historically. Intensive management will then be undertaken for a minimum of five years to ensure success of the restoration.
Randy Vogel, a senior ecologist with Land and Water Resources, is very passionate about this project and has been hands on throughout the process. The construction has begun with mowing and removal of shrubs. The invasive and non-native trees removal is close to completion and restoration of the stream itself will commence shortly.
Great things are happening at Skare Park and we are excited about the potential for this project. Please join us at the Rochelle Park District board meeting on Monday, Aug. 20 at 6:30 p.m. to hear more as Randy will be presenting an update to the board and public as well as be available for questions.
Jackee Ohlinger is the executive director of the Flagg-Rochelle Community Park District.