March/April 2016

The Village of Riverwoods is a unique community nestled along the east side of the Des Plaines River where various natural communities including forests, woodlands, savanna, marsh, and prairie can be found developing over heavy clay soils and shallow aquifers. The natural communities are an integral part of the Village’s identity, a source of many benefits for its residents, and an essential green infrastructure link between rivers and forest preserves that provide habitat for numerous migrating and nesting birds, native animals, plants, fish, and insects.

The land was very healthy prior to European settlement in the 1830s. Oak woodlands & savannas were maintained primarily by frequent fires and grazing by bison and elk. Following European settlement, the ecological health of the natural communities began to decline as natural processes such as fire were eliminated, bison and elk were extirpated, and surface water hydrology changed as homes and businesses were eventually built into the environment. Natural communities are now under stress from invasive plants, canopy tree shading, surface water changes, and deer browsing.

In recent years, the Village of Riverwoods and the Riverwoods Preservation Council (RPC) have become highly aware of the changing ecological conditions and have taken steps toward improving the health of the natural communities. In fall 2015, the Village and RPC worked with the Village Ecologist (Applied Ecological Services, Inc.) to map all natural communities found within the Village. The results of the inventory indicate that the Village is made up of several distinctly different natural communities with vast differences in species composition.

This new awareness of how complex the Village natural communities are prompted the Village and Plant Committee to rethink the way the Village’s annual plant sale operates. Beginning in 2016, the Village and Plant Committee is taking an exciting new approach. Residents will now have the opportunity to choose native trees and shrubs that are appropriate for the ecological community in which they live. In the past, residents selected trees and shrubs from an overall list without really knowing if their selections were appropriate for the area in which they live.

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Notification System

The Village of Riverwoods utilizes Blackboard Connect service for emergency resident notification side-by-side with the Village non-emergency resident email database. As a resident or business you can opt-in to emergency messages, non-emergency messages or both.

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