Speaking one behalf of the Lake Barrington Shores Conservators, it gives us great pride to dedicate the natural areas of Lake Barrington Shores as certified National Wildlife Federation Backyard Wildlife Habitat. During the summer of 2000, Conservators challenged themselves to complete the lengthy application with thorough documentation of the restoration work that began with the formation of the Conservators in 1993.
In 1975 the Chicago Sunday Sun-Times reported that when developers Ed and Ken James acquired the heavily wooded 512 acres, now known as Lake Barrington Shores, from a private estate, they commissioned 36 different studies to guide their building without losing the trees or polluting the mile-long lake on the property. Ed James said, “We wanted to make a beautiful piece of land even more beautiful.” One piece of advice he received was that an oak forest on the property would be ruined if any homes were built there. So that area was left as a forest preserve. In addition, the James’ left many large segments of land behind the condos and around the lake naturalized rather than landscaped.
Nationally our suppression of fire in the early 1900s was an invitation and habitat-assistance program for the alien plant specie who have no natural predators in our country. Here the biological destruction of the natural areas was further enhanced in 1967, when the use of the land changed. Chicago builder Robert Bartlett died in 1967, ending his family’s long tenure on the land. The Bartletts utilized the property as a “gentleman’s farm” to allow the family weekends away from Chicago. In addition to livestock, the family encouraged the presence of white-tailed deer, various kinds of waterfowl, and may have introduced elk on the property. Heavy grazing of pasture areas and wooded areas kept invasive plants to a minimum. Aerial views taken in approximately 1971 indicate a pasture-to-oak/hickory savannah landscape. The “gentleman’s farm” was purchased in 1972 by James Brothers Construction in partnership with Amoco Realty, a subsidiary of Amoco Oil Co.
Alien buckthorn, Japanese honeysuckle, multiflora rose, grapevines, and a variety of weeds marched across our forest preserve and naturalized areas with unchallenged aggression, since no natural predators or chemical predators were keeping them in balance. While the James’ created our lovely homes and landscaped beds, the enemy advanced.
In 1993, James Brothers Construction transferred control of the community to the Lake Barrington Community Homeowner’s Association. Under the sponsorship of the Landscape Commission chaired by Ray Krupp, the LBS Conservators was founded by Virginia Evanstad and Demetra Giannis on February 2, 1993 and a group of dedicated residents worked ceaselessly to gain approval from the Master Board to begin a multi-year program of restoration and maintenance in the natural areas with the forest preserve being the first priority. The group enjoyed leadership from homeowners Jean Vandewalker and Mike and Milissa Lang who worked with Urban Forest Management, ILT Vignocchi and Hendricksen The Care of Trees. Volunteer Conservators are the backbone of this organization and continue to provide evidence to the words of Margaret Mead:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world;
indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
On this Earth Day, April 21, 2001, we hereby dedicate The Natural Areas of Lake Barrington Shores as an official National Wildlife Federation Backyard Wildlife Habitat, part of a worldwide network of mini-refuges where wildlife may find quality habitat – food, water, cover, and places to raise their young.
Spoken by Elaine Parnell, Coordinator
Lake Barrington Shores Conservators