The natural world has resonated deep within my soul as early as I can remember. My first encounter with a native tall grass prairie was when I was about 12 or 13 years old. I remember it well. My oldest brother Joe took me to a nature preserve in Illinios. We walked on trails with big bluestem on each side. It completely captured me. I could only imagine that this is what most of Illinios looked like before settlement. If only I could go back in time to see the beauty of the native Midwestern prairies and oak savannas.
When I think about that time and realize what I am doing today several decades later, I am in some ways trying to go back in time. My work is trying to recreate the landscape to what it was like before European settlement. I like to say it is my attempt to heal the land. The satisfaction is that it can be done. I have witnessed it over and over again. This effort is extremely labor intensive and requires, most of the time, years to see significant progress. Patience is always required for this endeavor. One of the keys of trying to cope with impatience when trying to restore prairies/savannas is getting rid of your mind's idea of time. I try to think of time now in my restoration work more akin to geologic time. In short it takes time, years for nature to do its thing.
One of my most satisfying attempts at restoration is my work at Dorothy's Grange and home of Indigenous Restorations. It is 50 acres of upland prairie/savanna with a wet meadow and cold water stream. My partner, April, and I decided on calling it Dorothy's after my mother. She in so many ways made all of it possible. The word grange is defined as a country house with farm buildings. I have for the last 10 years been practicing restoration ecology at Dorothy's Grange. It is ongoing, and I have been very pleased of the progress made. The work there is my resume. I encourage and would invite all who are interested to come visit Dorothy's Grange to see the ongoing restoration work in progress.