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Projects Updates for Prairie Restoration at Florida & Orchard

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  1. Trash Clean up

    From: Alice Berkson

    To: John Marlin; James Ellis; White, Morgan

    Recipients:;; mbwhite at 


    Hello -- Now that the Florida/Orchard Prairie Zone has had a spring haircut, would traversing the area to pick up trash be a


    good idea


    harmful to plants


    Just let me know, I can get to it possibly before the weekend, definitely early next week.


    Also at least one of the Prairie Zone signs (on a single metal pole) are listing to one side. I straightened out the one adjoining the driveway so I think they are not set in concrete? Should I drop a few stones next to it in an effort to keep it straight? -- Alice


    Alice Berkson
    904 Mayfair Rd.     
    Champaign, IL  61821-4437
    voice 217.356.4829
    SpectroClick, Inc:    
    Public Service Archaeology & Architecture Program, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Illinois Assn. for Advancement of Archaeology:
    East Central IL Master Naturalist Program:

  2. Mowing Florida and Orchard Prairie

    On Mar 9, 2022, at 5:35 PM, Ellis, James Lee <jellis at> wrote:




    Is the Florida and Orchard prairie planting now under your purview at the arboretum?


    No, however we help out as needed - brush pick up, shrub cutting. John Marlin is the best source for info about management etc….

    Nathan Hudson and I have mowed the prairie in early spring the past few years. I’m willing to do that again in lieu of prescribed fire if desired.


    Great, probably due for a prescribed fire. 

    Let us know if we can assist?





    Natural Areas Coordinator
    Illinois Natural History Survey
    Prairie Research Institute | University of Illinois
    1816 S. Oak St. | M/C 652
    Champaign, IL 61820
    217.244.5695 | 217.649.7230 | jellis at

  3. Goldenrod Removal at the Florida-Orchard Prairie

    The following email from John Marlin describes how to remove goldenrod at the Florida & Orchard Prairie and some motivation for doing so.


    From: John Marlin
    Date: Sun, Jul 25, 2021 at 1:51 PM
    Subject: Perfect time to remove goldenrod at Florida Orchard
    To: Illinois Master Naturalists


    The big rain Saturday evening has left the soil in perfect condition for easily pulling tall goldenrod (see photo) at the Florida-Orchard prairie next to the UI president's house.  This is a great time for some independent action to get some hours.  Grasp the stem rather low (or several stems if you wish) and slowly pull straight up.  You may get lucky and also get 3 feet of rhizome.  Pulling the plants now just before they bloom weakens them greatly and prevents seed development.  You will often notice several stems in a circular pattern, get them all.  If you cannot carry plants away, toss them into the prairie individually.  If you cannot pull or bend over, just clip the stem 2 or 3 feet above ground level to weaken the plant and spur competitors.


    During he past several years we have pulled many plants along the South and east edges and the first third of the center path, Concentrate on these areas and the first third of the central path.  (WE also worked on the North side -- including putting a drop of herbicide on cut stems).  This has paid off as the species diversity has improved in these areas.  We concentrate on pulling the tall goldenrod near more desirable species like Butterfly milkweed, Bee balm, Culver's root and others.  If you walk down the central path, notice how goldenrod dominates about a third of the way down.


    There is parking in the UI lots at the Archives (Hort lab) off Orchard at the top of the Hill and at various times on Orchard street North of Florida.


    This site along with others including Meadow Brook, Pollinatarium, Arboretum, Lincoln Ave. Residence, Red Oak rain garden, AND homeowner plantings allow bee and other pollinator populations a chance to expand and exchange genetic material.  Attached are a recent photo of the south side and an historical poster of FLOR in 2013.


    MN's can get credit for this as part of the campus native plant projects. 


    I sent this BCC to some people who helped in the past and may have some current interest.


    John C. Marlin

  4. Florida-Orchard Prairie Pollinator Signage

    A 24" by 36" blank sign was installed at the corner of Florida Avenue and Orchard Street, by the Florida-Orchard prairie, near Orchard Downs and the Presidents’ House. The information planned to be featured in the sign will originate from the new Bee Campus brochure. This text will highlight the Bee Campus student organization, information about pollinators, as well as university and campus initiatives to be more pollinator-friendly. Thanks to funding by SSC, the signage will be ready for public display by the end of 2021!

    See the attached files to view the installation of the blank sign!

  5. 2021 Photos of Florida-Orchard Prairie (Jan-May)

    Photos were taken by Alice Berkson from January 2021 - May 2021 of the Florida-Orchard prairie on campus. These photos are taken each month at the same locations and are of a high enough resolution such that small sections can be enlarged to identify plants and other features. Each month, there are 4 photos taken from the view of NW diagonally looking SE, NE diagonally looking SW, or vice versa. Additional shots from other perspectives are taken as well!

    See the Box folder to view or download the photos!

  6. Photo Archive 2011-2020

    Beginning in 2011 Alice Berkson began taking photos at the Florida – Orchard prairie on campus next to the President’s House.  The photos were taken each month from the same locations beginning in 2013.  The two years prior to that all 12 months are not represented.  A few photos are missing including all of October 2015.   A few extra shots are occasionally included of unusual situations or plants.   

    See to view or download the images.

    The photos are in yearly folders.  Individual photos are labeled with the date first YYYY-MM-DD so that they will sort in order.   

    Photos were taken at the four corners.  At the North corners along Florida Avenue shots were taken east to west and west to east as well as diagonally from NE looking SW, and from NW looking SE.  At the southern corners, only the diagonal photos were taken.   

    The resolution on the photos is high so that small sections can be enlarged to identify plants and other features.   

    As of this writing the series is complete from 2011 through 2020.  

    John C. Marlin  January, 2021 


  7. An update from the South Arboretum Woods about the planting projects

    John Marlin (from Illinois Sustainable Technology Center) reported that the planting projects using SSC and ISEE grants are progressing well.

    The majority of the large honeysuckle was removed from the South Arboretum Woods, mostly by the fecon machine at a cost of $20,000. Student workers (mainly NRES and ESE) are taking out the remainder with hand tools and chainsaws and finishing the resprouts and seedlings with limited applications of herbicide. The woods was actually a former research plot where many species of trees were planted in blocks very close together. A number of trees will have to be removed in order to allow for the others to grow well and to let light penetrate to the ground.

    They also spent some time planting and weeding at plots at the Natural Resources Building, Burrill Hall, the Florida Orchard prairie and Lincoln Ave Residence (LAR) Hall. LAR contributed some funds toward planting.

    A Boy Scout Eagle Project was conducted at the woods.  They worked on three occasions removing garlic mustard and honeysuckle.   The Master Naturalists have also put in quite a few hours.

  8. Prairie on TV

    Sandy Mason interviewed myself and Jessica Mondello this morning at the Florida—Orchard prairie.  I think it went well.  As usual there was an awkward moment or two as we groped for words.  It should air on the farm segments at 5:40 am tomorrow Aug 7, and another version next Tuesday.  It will likely also show up on Illinois Home page .net

    All the paths now have a thin layer of wood chips to prevent erosion.

    ~John Marlin

  9. herbicide to be sprayed

    From: Marlin, John C
    Sent: Monday, May 13, 2013 4:37 PM
    To: Welch, Ryan B
    Cc: Johnston, Morgan B
    Subject: Grass herbicide for Florida Orchard

    A container of Assure II is now at the S. Lincoln grounds Barn.  I left it with Eric who put it in the location with the chemicals.  There is a note taped to the top with my name on it and saying it is for Ryan Welch for Florida—Orchard.

    I am supposed to mention that the herbicide needs to have a little crop oil mixed in as per the label.  Also the person who sprayed last time said to make sure your guy knows there are a couple ground hog holes in the field.

    The targeted grass is quackgrass.   The prime target areas are fairly obvious and need the most attention.  The worst area is just south of the mulched area and extends quite a way up the hill.  It should probably be done first in case we run out of mix.   Then there is a large swath just to the west of the trees going most of the way up the field. 

    Attached is a copy of the Assure II label. 

    I will need a little warning in order to remove some marker flags from the field.   Use my cell as well as email, as I do not always see my email in a timely manner.   We can be ready about any time you can schedule it.    

    The spray can come a couple feet  into the edge of the mulched area.   I will put pink flags along the edge.  If possible use a machine with some extended spray arms to minimize the number of prairie plants that will be ridden over by wheels.   The bar on the sprayer that did the roundup last year had wide wheels and the spray bar was only as wide as the machine.

    The weather channel predicts next Tue and Wed as 10% chance of rain.



    Attached Files: 
  10. Prairie Zone Signs Installed

    Signs have been installed at the prairie plot on the corner of Florida Avenue and Orchard Street. These signs announce the designation of this area as a Prairie Zone. The signs also list the benefits of planting native vegetation-- which increases the habitat for beneficial insects and wildlife, saves energy and reduces CO2 emissions by not using mowers, promotes sustainable landscapes and beautifies the campus, and provides an environment for scientific observation. The signs are funded by the Student Sustainability Committee.

  11. Concern with stewardship efforts

    Pizzo & Associates donated labor and materials to the prairie area at the corner of Florida Avenue and Orchard Street. Jack Pizzo, President and Senior Ecologist of Pizzo and Associates, emailed the stakeholders of the plot on July 1, 2010 to formally express his concern with the upkeeping of the plot.

    His letter is below and attached is the Memorandum of Agreement for Gifts in Kind between Pizzo & Associates and the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.

    To: Sustainability Committee

    RE: President's Prairie Planting, Site visit on June 29th 2010

    Dear Fellow Stakeholders,

    I'm writing this letter to formally express my concern with the current status of the ongoing stewardship efforts at the above mentioned site.
    I was onsite yesterday and was completely surprised as to the unkempt condition of the planting. The excessive height is out competing the native species.

    My company donated material and labor with the good faith understanding that the prairie areas would be maintained at a level to ensure success. I am fully aware of the abundance of rain and the difficulties this reality presents, but to simply do nothing while the site becomes overgrown constitutes neglect of the most egregious nature.

    As a group we cannot afford failure of this magnitude and visibility.  I am writing to call your attention to the current site conditions and to highlight the necessity of prompt action.  As a professional in the business of ecological restoration and as a graduate of the University, I am confident the solution to our problem lies within the team we have assembled.  In the near term, the entire site needs to be mowed and treated selectively with herbicide.  In the long term, a more consistent stewardship plan needs to be developed and implemented to prevent the current situation from occurring in the future.

    I am fully aware that traditional management means may not work with the soils that are currently saturated soils but most of the site is dry enough to mow. From experience, I can recommend a number of alternative treatments including using: a walk behind mower, a sickle bar mower, brush cutting with Stihl FS-250 brush cutters or manual cutting with Christmas tree knives.  The cut material needs to be removed due to the excessive height since all of that debris will smother the seedlings. Either way, something needs to be done to bring the vegetation under control and prevent further seeding impedance. This needs to be done within the next week.

    I don't want to be party to a failure and I know none of you do either.
    A prompt, coordinated response would be most appreciated!

    Please keep me in the loop as to the efforts.

    Best regards,


  12. Prairie Restoration at Florida & Orchard Funding Agreement

    This proposal looks to restore the no-mow zone at the southwest corner of Florida Ave. and Orchard St., as the campus’ first prairie planting. It will provide a site for an array of learning and passive recreation opportunities for both students and members of the extended community, while sequestering greenhouse gases as tangible evidence of the campus commitment to responsible sustainable behavior. Thus, the Student Sustainability Committee is in favor of funding the fully requested amount of $40,000.