In 2016, Fremont Township was awarded a grant through the ComEd Green Region program. Under the guidance of Dave Eubanks of Eubanks Environmental, we proposed converting 1.25 acres to seeded prairie. A little over 1 acre of sod detention area and a septic field would be seeded with a wet prairie and native detention area grasses and forbs. The remaining areas around the highway buildings would be a low profile prairie mix, which means the overall height of the native area would be about 4 four and less.

Mostly low profile restored prairie of Jim and Marlene Keenans in McHenry

The 2016 Fremont Middle School 6th graders personalized learning program got involved with the installation process as well as learning about the value of native plants, pollinators and rain gardens. They created the design, built, and installed our wooden signs for our wet prairie, rain garden and community garden. They learned about the plight of the local endangered Rusty Patched Bumble Bee, thanks to local bee expert Aurelia Fayette Nichols, and what they could do to help support native bees. In May 2018, 90 sixth graders made two visits to Fremont Township to plant 500 native grasses, forbs and sedges around the admin building, 34 shrubs, and 8 trees under the guidance of volunteer Master Gardeners.

6th graders planting sunny prairie plants

By 2019, Fremont had 1.25 acres of 1 year old restored prairie and added an additional 2.5 acres of dry mesic low profile prairie at Behm Park.

Final grant totals:

  • Almost 4 acres of sod eliminated and replaced with native seeds.
  • 3 informational signs–1 on biodiversity, 1 on rain gardens, 1 on veggie garden
  • one large bug hotel to provide shelter to beneficial insects
  • 500 native grasses, flowers, and sedges around admin building, chosen to support the long feeding season of the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee
  • 30 shrubs, including serviceberry, aronia, prairie willow, elderberries, hazelnuts, currants, prairie rose, and shrubby st John’s wort
  • 8 trees, including blue beech, burr and swamp oaks, and linden.
  • 90 middle schoolers introduced to native plants and green infrastructure
  • Prescribed burn training and equipment for employees
First summer after planting native landscaping
First summer after seeding wet prairie
Bug hotel designed and built by 2018 Fremont Sixth grade class

-Check out our blog posts for more details on the our prairie installation, management, and the Rusty Patched Bumblebee.