By Jana Mazan for SUST 210 online
Currently, many urban communities are working to restore their natural history by integrating more flora and fauna into their parks and even on the concrete streets of their bustling cities. While the enhancement of light forestry is providing the city with a green and organic feel, many urban and suburban families long for the accessible getaways to wooded parks and forest preserves that provide adventure and recreation. According to Karla Nagy’s 2013 article, “The Saving of the Green,” the population of Chicago’s suburbs rose by over a half million between 2000 and 2010, with100,000 of that increased population residing in Kane County alone.
Much of this shift is believed to be credited to the natural, forested landscape of Chicago’s suburbs. Parents long to give their children the opportunity to explore the outdoors and become hands-on with nature, just as they did growing up. The experiences found in the suburbs’ nature preserves frequently cannot provided to them in the same way in urban communities. Because of the growth in population in the Northwest suburbs and their related interest in nature, McHenry, Kane, and Lake Counties have added and expanded the children’s programs offered by their forest preserves and nature centers.
Though the large interest in natural recreation is a positive thing, due to the growth in these areas the people are actually encroaching on the untouched land. Because the people initially chose the area for its natural land, the community has to react, conserve, and continue to preserve in order to maintain and enhance its greenery. In Barrington, students of their local high school take part in their conservation program. A representative for the Barrington Area Conservation Trust tells NorthwestQuarterly.com, “We get the high school kids out there working the land with us. Last year, we had the horticulture class grow 300 sedges and grasses in their greenhouse, and then helped them to plant them on Earth Day. That way, the kids get to help with the restoration and see the improvement firsthand.”
The move to suburban living in search for nature is a positive transition. Because people have a genuine interest in the natural state of their community, such as the students in Barrington, more people are willing to lend a helping hand in the conservation and preservation of its beauty. As more cities continue implementing green infrastructure projects within to their communities, hopefully urban residents will adapt to and assist in these efforts just as those in the suburbs.
Each week during the Fall 2013 semester, students in Prof. Mike Bryson’s SUST 210 Sustainable Future online class at Roosevelt University will contribute blog posts on suburban sustainability issues to the Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future website.