Butterflies, bees, bats, and other organisms distribute pollen or seeds and are known as pollinators. Pollinator plants can be planted in sunny or shaded areas depending on the plant species and should be selected with host (for larva) and nectar (for food) plants in mind. A list of pollinator plots around Springfield includes:
Susan Helm, master gardener, has been working on native plant pollinator gardening. Susan has been awarded many grants and found numerous willing partners, including Springfield Civic Garden Club, Illinois Native Plant Society, City of Springfield, Toyota/Route 66, Springfield Art Association, Maldaner’s Restaurant, and Sustainable Springfield. Specifically, Route 66 was designated as a monarch butterfly flyway as part of the Illinois Monarch Action Plan, which was signed by Illinois Departments of Natural Resources, Department of Transportation, and Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency in September 2020.
Downtown Springfield has pollinator pocket status and a monarch waystation. In October of 2021, SSI Board member Michael Higgins helped Susan plant some of these pollinator plants in the bump outs all around town. These are parts of the sidewalk that go slightly into the street so you can add green spaces along otherwise boring concrete sidewalks. These concrete areas were prone to trash, cigarette butts, and in the winter, street salt. Most of this has been funded through grants by working more directly through the city, who seem to be satisfied.
Installing a pollinator bed is one thing but maintaining it is key, Susan says. In the fall before planting pollinators, cardboard and mulch are laid down to prepare the area. You can find pollinators at greenhouses. Many pollinator seeds, such as milkweed, require stratification, which you can start as early as December or early January. Place the seeds in a plastic bag in the freezer or crisper part of your fridge for 60-90 days. It is helpful to label everything. You can use plug trays, then transplant them to 4-5 inch pots. Lincoln Memorial Garden and Illinois Native Prairie Society both have their own plant sales. If you have bare ground available you can directly seed it, but it’s best to time it with a good rain or snow. At a certain time of year some pollinators don't look so great- so put your focus on three-season blooming plants. Another tip: Don’t cut the dead from last year until the end of spring.
There’s still time to stop the Lincoln Land Energy Center gas plantSierra Club continues to rise with local residents and Sierra Club members who oppose the proposed Lincoln Land Energy Center—a “natural” gas plant that EmberClear wants to build in Pawnee, Illinois. If built, this gas plant would be right in town and close to a school, putting community members at risk of pollution and related health issues. We shouldn’t be building a new gas plant in the midst of a climate crisis. Join us and send a comment to the EPA today.
For years, EmberClear has been proposing a gas plant in Pawnee and their operating permit is now open for public comment.The proposed plant would be built at 15000 Black Diamond Rd in Pawnee, which is close to people’s homes and schools. Sierra Club joined neighbors in voicing our opposition in 2017 when zoning permits were filed because of concerns for our climate, health, environment and the high costs of gas.
Now, in 2021, as we struggle with an extreme drought, destructive fires, and unhealthy air quality, building a new gas-fired power plant is an even riskier proposition for our shared climate. As technology advances and costs continue to decline for clean energy (while gas prices keep going up), this proposed gas plant is even riskier for energy customers. Although the recent passage of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act is a huge win for climate in Illinois, we must keep working to ensure new gas plants aren't permitted before 2045. If gas plants are too dangerous to be built in 2045, they shouldn't be permitted in 2021.
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Food Scarcity and Sustainability in Springfield
In a time of social distancing and uncertainty, Mike Clark put his focus this year on ways to develop dependable access to a healthy affordable food supply where there is food scarcity. Aquaponics and urban fruit tree orchards on public land can provide an abundance of fresh, healthy, all natural food to areas of high need in Springfield. This summer, finding 30 fruit trees on clearance, we managed to find planting sites in the city for all of them. By the end of the season, we planted 50 fruit bearing trees with the help of the Jaycees.
Next year, our goal is to plant 100 fruit bearing trees and provide one publicly accessible aquaponics system. Mike has successfully developed an aquaponics model at his home and hopes to develop a public access near downtown Springfield.
He has been able to grow onion, mint, lettuce, green beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, cyanine peppers, lemon thyme, dill and carrots so far in the system.
Did you know there’s a shop in Springfield, Illinois where they’ll recycle hearing aid batteries? Or spots all over town where you can recharge an electric car?
Springfield is remarkably “green” for a city of its size but until now there was no easy way to find its “green” services and amenities all in one location. The Sustain Springfield Green Map brings all things “green” together in a single, easy-to-use online site. It also features special community projects like tiny libraries.
Whether you want to enjoy a beautiful park, recycle hard to dispose of items or borrow a book in your neighborhood, let the Sustain Springfield Green Map show the way!
Click Here to see map
Various folks imagine and pursue ways of greening up Springfield and moving our fair city in a sustainable direction. One of those groups we are blessed to have in town is a team of “trail angels” who have been quite active.
Joel Johnson, Greg Feeny and Pat Ryan are a team of three who have taken it upon themselves
to beautify the Interurban Trail that runs from Springfield to Chatham. Under the auspices of
the Friends of the Sangamon Valley (FOSV.org) and Springfield Park District they have been
removing unwanted exotic species like honeysuckle along the trail, and restoring the area with
native Illinois flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees.
Three main areas along the trail that the group has been restoring are visible to all who enjoy the Interurban. One is on the east side of the trail just south of the I-72 overpass. There is a second area across from it where they have planted a grove of small dogwood trees. The third, far larger undertaking is about ¼ mile north of Woodside Road, on the west side of the trail.
Yet another major development is at the edge of Springfield’s MacArthur extension - north of the old railroad overpass near the start of the Interurban. A berm has been planted with bushes, wildflowers and native grasses and nicely accented with rocks - Pat's landscaping touch. The adjoining area includes a small native bush grove followed by a prairie-type garden. Greg is also developing native plantings in a couple woodsy areas he has cleared and maintained south of the two I-72 sites mentioned above.
After working on removing the honeysuckle from these areas, they got Chuck Smith from the Springfield Park District to dump a pile of mulch at the Hazel Dell parking lot north of the overpass and at two other locations along the trail. The industrious team used wagons to haul the plants and mulch to the restoration areas. Because the plantings needed water, Greg lugged 4 one gallon jugs at a time on his bicycle while Joel used a wagon to deliver five gallon Jerry cans of water to the areas.
Funding for the project has come out of their pockets, with helpful advice and the use of a chainsaw and chemicals from FOSV which Greg has utilized. Greg managed the attack of the honeysuckle jungle that was taking over the trail and, along with Joel’s use of a special “honeysuckle popper” tool they rid the area of the insidious plants. Then they brought in grasses and flowers to plant, many of which they both grew at home or that Greg purchased from the Illinois Native Plant Society (INPS). FOSV also provided seed for broadcasting. Pat filled in with her esthetic abilities to add much of the landscaping artistry – rocks and other landscaping – that finished the beautification of the restored areas.
Luckily for us, Joel and Greg love going out to the trail to do this work. But there is a limit to what two or three can do. At this point, they are in need of other volunteers to come and help them with their trail project. As the weather cools, they are interested in clearing more honeysuckle from the trail in preparation for more planting. They are very willing to train folks who could then go out on their own – even if only a couple hours a week – to help.
To find out more about the project, contact Joel Johnson at 217-528-6942 or firstname.lastname@example.org. And as you ride down the Interurban Trail, when you see a humble man working to make it a more interesting place for your ride, give a shout out to Joel or Greg. Take a short break as you come upon white signs that proclaim “This Area Under Restoration!” and take in the beauty of the gardens that these three trail angels have produced for you!