Protect Our Preserves


Jaclyn Fabing


Illinois suburbs were once filled with life; animal and plant life. Even as suburbs like those in Kane County began to grow, there was always a rustic feel to it. Growing up, I could hear a rooster all times of the day from the cul-de-sac I lived at, only a short walk away from a barn.

I recall swimming in creeks and playing in empty lots that had become overgrown with prairie—things that are becoming less possible because of the continued urbanization of suburban Illinois. Passing the farmland and open fields on my way back to Springfield for college ensures me that much of this country is still the same. But there is a growing problem in these suburbs, as rolling wheat from farms and even prairies and forest preserves are threatened.

Previously open fields for coyotes, deer, and other animals to thrive in are being destroyed for new homes that go unbought, so massive and close to each other that you can shake hands with your neighbor through one another’s windows, with no room for wildlife on otherwise large lots. And as this destruction occurs, an influx of displaced wildlife wandering into roads, trash, and unsuspecting small pet dogs is an unavoidable consequence.

In 2012, a rowing club struck a deal with Kane County forest preserve to build on the preserve and close it to the public for certain events. The deal only fell through in 2016 from lack of funding, not from the concerns of neighbors.

Similarly, construction for a 5.6-mile, four-lane roadway across the Brunner Family Forest Preserve has trudged along, destroying areas meant to protect wildlife.

Today, only one percent of original Illinois prairie remains, when once the state was 60 percent prairie.

An article by Valerie Blaine from the Daily Herald quotes a settler from the 1800s: “The tall grass, when the wind blew, was like the waves of the sea, beautiful to behold.” Now, driving through a once rustic suburb, there is only a ‘sea’ of cookie-cutter houses and fast-food chains.

While much of the state has yet to be touched by this, and great progress has been made through conservation projects like Emiquon, the problem continues to spread across the nation—recently, the Trump administration has been looking into shrinking the size of various National Parks.

Urbanization and growth is good, but not to the point where we forget our roots and trample over areas we have set aside specifically to protect wildlife.

Some Illinois government officials seem to have forgotten this.