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The Morton Arboretum recognized for excellence in ecological restoration

21 January 2015

The Chicago Wilderness alliance recently honored The Morton Arboretum for achieving the Excellence in Ecological Restoration accreditation. The Chicago Wilderness Excellence in Ecological Restoration program showcases excellence in conservation leadership and site-based restoration by recognizing high-quality natural areas and the organizations that manage them.

The Morton Arboretum has been honored with a platinum accreditation—the highest of four levels— for conservation efforts in its East Woods and Schulenberg Prairie. Assessments are based on a set of rigorous, science-based standards that recognize best practices in natural resource management.

When determining accreditation level, Chicago Wilderness took many factors into consideration including The Morton Arboretum’s efforts in providing researchers outside the Arboretum with access to its natural areas and its educational opportunities, including the Arboretum’s Woodland Stewardship program.  The Woodland Stewardship program offers classroom study and practical field experience for those interested in learning more about the maintenance and restoration of natural areas and woodland habitats in Northern Illinois.

“We are honored to be recognized by Chicago Wilderness for our commitment to conservation, which began more than 50 years ago when Ray Schulenberg set out to recreate a native prairie from an eight-acre patch of farmland,” said Kurt Dreisilker, Head of Natural Resources. “Now, more than half of our 1,700 acres are managed as natural areas, with staff and volunteers working daily to manage the vegetation, wildlife and hydrology of these areas to support species richness and diversity.”



Accepting the platinum-level accreditation is the Arboretum's Kurt Dreisilker, Head of Natural Resources, center left, and Dr. Nicole Cavender, Vice President of Science and Conservation, center right, with Chicago Wilderness representatives


Through the Chicago Wilderness ecological restoration program, which was developed with support from ArcelorMittal and launched in 2013, organizations conduct comprehensive self-assessments of their restoration programs and the quality of their natural areas that are then reviewed by experts from across the region.

The natural areas of Chicago’s wilderness are home to a wide diversity of species and rare habitats that provide the region’s residents with opportunities for recreation and exploration, as well as clean air and water, flood protection and so much more. Yet the region’s natural areas are threatened by fragmentation; invasive plant and animal species; pollution; and the impacts of climate change.  To address these threats, The Morton Arboretum actively restores and maintains the health of local nature, to benefit both people and wildlife. 

“The Chicago Wilderness alliance is so pleased to recognize The Morton Arboretum,” said Suzanne Malec-McKenna, Executive Director of Chicago Wilderness. “They are helping to ensure that our region’s natural heritage remains vibrant for generations to come.”

The Morton Arboretum participated in the last ERA meeting held in Missouri Botanical Garden in July 2014 and is a patron member of BGCI.

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