System of Interpretive Elements for the Forest Preserve of Cook County

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A System of Interpretive Elements

to be piloted at Deer Grove and Tinley Creek Wetlands/Bartel Grasslands Forest Preserves 30% Schematic Design

Forest Preserves of Cook County Openlands



Contents Introduction 5 Interpretive approach and goals 6 Audiences 7 Main messages 8

Toolkit 11 Orientation ring Site map Interpretive node Trail bridge Earthen berm Freestanding signage Pilot sites 14 Deer Grove 15 Tinley Creek Wetlands/ Bartel Grasslands 34 Additional interpretive elements 56 Technology Artwork



A system of interpretive elements

Introduction Openlands has partnered with the Forest Preserves of Cook County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restore wetlands and their surrounding upland habitat in several area forest preserves as part of the O’Hare Modernization Mitigation Account. The project will not only enhance significant tracts of habitat, it offers the opportunity to educate visitors about the land, the value of restoration, and the forest preserves themselves. The project also happens to coincide with the Forest Preserve’s centennial— an occasion being marked by new visions, ideas and projects for the coming century. Among them are plans to bring new and innovative forms of interpretation to preserve sites. The work at Deer Grove and Tinley Creek Wetlands/Bartel Grasslands offers a tremendous opportunity to create a new model for interpreting native landscapes. To that end, Openlands has assembled a team of designers, educators, and restoration experts to work with Forest Preserve staff on developing a “toolkit” of interpretive elements that can be applied and adapted to a variety of preserve settings. This report presents the thinking about and design of these elements at approximately the 30% stage of development. Not included in this document, but available in digital form, are the engineering surveys, topography maps, permitting submittals, and other background materials that were prepared as part of the overall design process.

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Forest Preserves of Cook County / Openlands

Interpretive approach and goals We are living at a time when people are becoming increasingly disconnected from nature even as we face unprecedented threats to the environment. Many Americans have been slow to feel the urgency of receding shorelines, droughts, and other effects of climate change, especially when they occur far from home. These conditions set the stage for educators and advocates working to improve the health of our planet. The forest preserves are a natural place to communicate messages about the importance of caring for the earth, but it is not so easy. Most casual visitors to the preserves come not to be confronted with issues and oughts, but rather to recreate, to enjoy the outdoors, and to find respite from their busy lives. This reality, then, is where interpretive work must begin. The experience of being in an outdoor setting tends to be dominated by right brain feeling and sensing. Effective interpretation, then, must appeal at least in part to the affective realm of the mind. Positive, affective experience is an important precursor to effective communication, because it induces the state of mind that is ideal for learning to occur: pleasure, openness, connection. If visitors can feel and be moved by their experience with the land, they will be more receptive to more didactic messages about restoration, preservation, and so on. This is the essence of our interpretive challenge: To build interest in and support for environmental protection starting at the most basic of levels, by inspiring care for nature.

To this end, three broad goals have been identified: 1. Stimulate feelings of wonder and care for nature by facilitating positive experiences that connect people to the earth. 2. Communicate the value of stewardship: that it is an activity undertaken by and for people to protect the source of our basic needs for water, air and food—i.e., healthy land. 3. Promote the leadership role of FPCC in regional land conservation. Ultimately, the hope is that visitors will come to understand the important role that forest preserves and other open land play in this corner of the globe so that local preservation efforts are valued and supported.


A system of interpretive elements

Audiences The process of identifying and/or targeting audiences is typically undertaken with respect to any number of meaningful criteria, from demographics to learning style to visitor goals. In the case of the preserves, a generalization may be useful. One could reasonably describe current visitors as either casual, recreational users (bike riders, joggers, picnickers) or motivated, special interest doers (birders, naturalists, school groups, etc.) A third audience category is worth singling out because it includes future potential visitors as well as armchair visitors who may never make it to a preserve. These are off-site “visitors”, and they represent a segment of the population whose primary means of communication with and about the preserves is technical, via websites, downloadable audio and video, social media, and the like. While these tools play an important marketing role, they can also serve an educational function as well, conveying messages and experiences that are valuable unto themselves. Furthermore, electronic media holds special appeal to a very particular off-site audience which is notoriously hard to reach: young people, in particular teens and pre-teens. Hence, the fourth and final target audience: youth. It’s been said many times, but it is no less true: the future rests on the shoulders of each upcoming generation. It is our job to prepare them with the interest, knowledge and will to tackle the serious environmental issues facing our planet. In general, younger children tend to be easier to reach—they visit as part of a social unit that can guide and direct them; and they are in a setting that suits their natural inclination to run and play. Reaching them with our messages is a matter of developing age appropriate activities and/or reaching their adult guardians who act as natural “interpreters”.

In summary, while interpretation needs to reach a very broad general public, it should be developed with four particular target audiences in mind: • Casual, recreational users • Knowledgeable, interested stewards • Off-site visitors • Young people (in each of the above three categories as well as students/ schools)

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Main messages Five primary messages were identified to carry out the interpretive goals and approach described above.

1. Stop. Look. Listen. Notice. Feel.

2. Humans do not exist apart from nature; we are a part of nature.

Secondary messages will depend on individual sites, but may include:

• The earth is home to places of heart-stopping wonder and beauty.

• Our bodies are comprised of water, oxygen, and other naturally occurring elements.

• Careful observation can sharpen our city-honed senses to reveal a whole world of signs and messages embedded in nature.

• Nature is the source of our every need: air, water, food, shelter, clothing and medicine, as well as aesthetic inspiration and spiritual nourishment. • We are part of a vast, interconnected system of natural cycles and processes. • When we exploit nature, we exploit our selves; when we protect nature, we protect our selves. • Just as humans depend on nature for every aspect of our existence, nature now depends on humans to live in ways that preserve its health.


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3. Stewardship is the process by which we return the land to health and ensure its—and our—long term well-being.

4. Wetlands restoration has as its core activity the management of water from raindrop on: its levels, its movement, and its filtration throughout the watershed.

5. FPCC is a leader in regional land conservation and restoration.

• Stewardship is not about bringing back some pristine past; it is about restoring the natural processes of the land so that it functions properly.

• Healthy wetlands naturally filter and replenish our drinking water supplies.

• The FPCC preserves a total of 69,000 acres or 11% of the land in Cook County.

• Healthy wetlands absorb rain water during heavy storms.

• As stated in the Next Century Conservation Plan the FPCC aspires to restore 30,000 acres to high quality in the next 25 years.

• When the land functions properly, the water, air, vegetation and other elements that we need to live are clean, nutritious, and endlessly renewable. • Humans are the reason the land needs to be restored; they are also the means for restoring it. • Stewardship involves activities like removing invasive species, re-introducing native species, re-establishing natural processes, and stabilizing water levels and soil composition.

• Healthy wetlands and the uplands around them recharge precious water supplies during times of drought by releasing water slowly into the ground. • Healthy wetlands support diverse habitat for wildlife including food, water, and shelter. • Healthy wetlands offer refuge and recreation close to home for people and wildlife alike.



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Toolkit The idea of creating a “toolkit” is to design a set of basic, standardized, physical interpretive elements that can be used in multiple ways and adapted to multiple settings. They are designed to provide a cohesive look and feel; but they can be mixed and matched and tailored so that visitors experience a customized system at different sites.

The built elements consist of a set of sculptural tools that are designed both to interpret the landscape and fulfill functional needs of orientation, seating etc. Their overarching purpose is to inspire interest in and care for nature by helping visitors experience the beauty, mystery, and complexity of the landscape before them. They are designed to enable visitors to “read” the landscape by making visible the hidden processes and features of the site (water movement; wildlife; seasonal time; etc.) by: • providing an interpretive tool—a map, an instrument, measure—which is inscribed on the landscape and whose function is to reveal features that are invisible to (most people’s) eyes • presenting a set of simple geometric forms—circle, line, cube, arch—that are essentially artistic in nature, and can be read as a set of “sculptures” on the landscape • addressing some functional need: orientation; seating; elevation; bridge The elements of the toolkit include: • Orientation ring • Site map • Interpretive node • Trail bridge • Earthen berm • Freestanding signage


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Forest Preserves of Cook County/Openlands

Toolkit elements include:

Orientation ring A variation on a council ring, this is THE iconic element where visitors are oriented to any given site. It’s historic; it’s functional; and it’s low impact.

Site map A major, round map “table” at the center of ring which provides both geographic and interpretive detail.

Purpose: defines a “launch” space where visit clearly begins

Purpose: delineate boundaries, habitat areas and path system

• provide basic orientation, introductory information

• render topography and/or actual wetland areas; the effect will be both informative but also beautiful as a kind of abstract pattern

• provide space where school groups can gather for orientation and programming • provide a segue into the site; a gateway experience to set the stage

• indicate features that would matter to other inhabitants of the site: a migratory path; an underground vole maze, etc. Somewhat imaginary but the purpose is to point out features that are true to the site. • indicate longitude and latitude to reinforce sense of location

Interpretive node A spur off ff the trail for 2–6 people to stop, sit, observe, feel. Purpose: provide points of pause along the trail; draw attention to elements of the ecosystem • reinforce one of the features indicated on the site map with a simple message or quote • indicate location to listen to a podcast message


A system of interpretive elements

Trail bridge A boardwalk-like bridge that traverses wetlands, ponds or other sensitive areas. The effect ff should be sculptural and incorporate modest interpretive messages.

Earthen berm A linear earthwork extending pier-like into the landscape. Again, the effect ff should be sculptural.

Purpose: allow visitors to view and experience site features from another vantage, Variations include:

Purpose: a way to bring visitors into a site without disturbing it; provide an elevated view; embed messages related to length and rise, for example, a measure of:

• Trail arch: gently rises to elevate visitors and provide a viewing “platform”

• how much water is being diverted into the wetland

• Ground-level bridge: traverses wetland areas and allows close viewing

• how many new species are being brought back as a result of restoration

• Pier: extends over water

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Freestanding signage Purpose: to provide necessary information where text cannot be incorporated directly into the elements themselves. They should be used judiciously to minimize impact on the landscape and include: • Title: inspired by the once popular burma-shave signs, these are designed to draw visitors toward an interpretive node and provide modest information about its content • Interpretive: provide additional information that does not fit (physically or conceptually) on the built elements • Welcome: FPCC’s existing sign kiosks greet visitors with basic site information, rules and regulations, etc.


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Pilot sites Selected interpretive elements will be piloted at Deer Grove and Tinley Creek Wetlands/Bartel Grasslands. While the two preserves have distinct features and habitats, both are restoration sites with similar interpretive needs. The elements and messages were developed with this in mind. Deer Grove is located in the northwest corner of Cook County. Notable site features include: • Diversity of habitat – including wooded wetland, emergent wetland, Bur oak woodland and savanna, mesic prairie, shallow marsh, and open water pond. • Trails – an extensive system, both paved and unpaved. Tinley Creek Wetlands/Bartel Grasslands is located in the far south end of Cook County. Notable site features include: • Wetland to the north, grassland to the south – separated only by a road but otherwise a single, vast landscape. • Vista – unimpeded, 360 degree views to the horizon and a wide open sky. • Birds – an important birding site, providing habitat for nesting and a stop on the migratory flyway.

Forest Preserves of Cook County / Openlands


A system of interpretive elements

Deer Grove Deer Grove Forest Preserve is a heavily visited site with recreational amenities like trails and picnic areas. Its diverse landscape includes a habitat which is globally endangered (Bur oak woodland and savanna).

Land

Proposed toolkit elements include: • Orientation ring • Site map • Title signs • Interpretive node: Water • Interpretive node: Land • Interpretive node: Sky

Water

Sky Orientation ring

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Orientation ring

Forest Preserves of Cook County/Openlands


A system of interpretive elements

The orientation ring is designed such that the number and placement of benches can change according to the needs of any given site. Four benches should always be aligned to the four cardinal directions, however, with the compass points engraved onto two planes of the limestone.

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Topography, trails, migration patterns, map key, and interpretive texts are all indicated on the central table, sandblasted into the limestone and backpainted dark gray. Letterforms are cut into two sides of the limestone.

NODE NODE

NODE

WETLAND PIER NODE

COUNCIL RING

WATER

ENTRANCE

NODE

NODE

THE BOOK OF NATURE

ENTRANCE

PAVED TRAIL

IT’S ONE OF THOSE ANCIENT IDEAS WORTH REMEMBERING: THAT THE LANDSCAPE CAN BE “READ” THAT WHAT GROWS AND WHAT DOES NOT WHAT FLOWS HIDDEN HOLES A LEAF, A BUZZ A MAZE, A TRAIL ARE SIGNS AND CLUES MAP AND TALE.

CANIDAE FOX

NORTH AMERICA VOLES


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NODE

THE BOOK OF NATURE

ENTRANCE

PAVED TRAIL

IT’S ONE OF THOSE ANCIENT IDEAS WORTH REMEMBERING: THAT THE LANDSCAPE CAN BE “READ” THAT WHAT GROWS AND WHAT DOES NOT WHAT FLOWS HIDDEN HOLES A LEAF, A BUZZ A MAZE, A TRAIL ARE SIGNS AND CLUES MAP AND TALE.

NORTH AMERICA VOLE


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Title signs for interpretive nodes

Forest Preserves of Cook County / Openlands


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Title signs for interpretive node: Water Interpretive messages are sandblasted into a folded galvanized steel, polymer, or wooden surface and backpainted dark gray. Serial in nature, when read together the signs both tell a story and lead visitors o the main trail to interpretive nodes.

AND ALWAYS,

WATER

SOME MONTHS

WETTER

SW E L L I N G AN D P O O L I N G

SOME MONTHS

DRIER

EBBING AND QUENCHING



A system of interpretive elements

Interpretive node (trail bridge): Water

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Railing sign: Six seasons A long metal railing extends the length of the pier. Mounted to the rail is a folded piece of metal which contains the story of water in this landscape. Organized by seasons and presented in six short poetic forms, the narrative ows across the two metal planes. The names of seasons form a consistent timeline across the sign while the poetic descriptions change in scale, weight and placement, a reference to the ebb and ow of water levels.

Forest Preserves of Cook County/Openlands

Words are sandblasted into the metal surface and backpainted gray. The folded metal planes allow the sign information to be presented on more than one surface for a more active reading experience. Viewers need not approach the narrative from a purely sequential standpoint.


A system of interpretive elements

WATCH FOR: M I G R AT I N G C R A N E S , D U C KS A N D F I N C H E S N O N - M I G R AT O RY B I R D S N E ST I N G I N T H E G R AS S

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SLUSHY THAW FIRST SIPS THE WET BEGINS

EARLY SPRING MELT MARCH/ APR I L



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Interpretive node: Land

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Interpretive node: Land Interpretive text describing habitats are sandblasted into limestone circles, backpainted dark gray, and inset into a circular field of crushed limestone. Each text “points” to the area to which it refers.

GRE

LEO

SA

DR

AG

ON

FL

Y

ND

HI

LL

CR

AN

PA R

D

GRE AT E

T

TURTL

E

HERON G R E AT B L U E

MALLARD

GREEN H ERON

G FRO

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WETLAND WET L A N D : SP O N G E T H I RST Y A N D A BSO RBEN T ITS ROLE EVER MORE IMPORTANT IN A WORLD THAT IS H A RD BU I LT U N YI EL D I N G WHERE RAINWATER WHICH MIGHT OTHERWISE KISS THE SOIL FLOWS AND FLOODS SEWERS D RA I N S YOU R B ASEM EN T SEEKING, SEARCHING LOWER GROUND LAKES AND RIVERS WETLANDS.

CHI PMU OT E SP

D RAG

BLU

ONF

LY

NK NDER

BUMBLE

BEE

ALAMA TED S GAR TER

MEADO

CHICAGO

W VOLE

RACCOON

GR ASSHOPP ER

K AT Y D I D

L E O PA R D F R O G

OW

SP

IE AI R

IS

IL EE R

MA

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GN

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SA

ITE

AH

WH

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OTE

R AR

COY

PR

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DRA

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QUIR RE

O

AK WO O

M B R E U IS TE LA P E Q N B IT UM DE E CO ESS M EU IM LO R O V IT US AT IS D O P E R E IC IL E M RN R E E R LO R IS TU TI RE P TA OS A PO R I S TI O LU AT IS V E RE PR O M AM A B Q U IS TU P R E EM QU M TA A E T S R AT R E S E N E LU P N A O TI G VO AB ES FU ND ET DA D EN SE TI S QU E O U R. NS A Q CO MPO E N TI ID SU

COYO

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S N A KE

A LI D Q U IT IS A UN T M D O LU S P E D IO AG P N IS TA M N S EQ QU AS AU U IS AE S U E X TA Q M IL ET EA UI QU E MQ IN S IM I IM S S IM U A S OD PE E L VO EOS LU A M VE QU ND I VO AME T LU PE QUA P S TA IS LE S S S IT SV IA V E V E R IT A E O D IC LE N N TO O ES TF TA AB I CU T AS UG OD UN P A U S TA Q T C IA U E E X S IM P LA P E M . LL

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The names of animal species inhabiting the habitat are made of dimensional stainless steel or polymer and inset into the area just within the perimeter of the gravel circle.

WETLAND WE T L AND: SPONGE THI RST Y AND ABSORBE NT ITS ROLE EVER MORE IMPORTANT IN A WORLD THAT IS HARD BUI LT UNYI E L DI NG WHERE RAINWATER WHICH MIGHT OTHERWISE KISS THE SOIL FLOWS AND FLOODS SEWERS D RAI NS YOUR B ASEMENT SEEKING, SEARCHING LOWER GROUND LAKES AND RIVERS WETLANDS.

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A system of interpretive elements

Interpretive node: Sky

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Interpretive node: Sky The node’s centerpiece is a functional sun clock, sandblasted into galvanized steel or polymer circles and rectangular limestone strips and backpainted gray. The sun clock is inset into a large circle defined by crushed limestone.

EASTERN BLUEBIRD WINGSPAN : 9–12.5 INCHES

SANDHILL CRANE WINGSPAN : 65–83 INCHES

EASTERN BLUEBIRD WINGSPAN : 9–12.5 INCHES

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FLICKER

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11

1

2

3

4

8

WINGSPAN : 16.5–20 INCHES

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FLICKER

WINGSPAN : 16.5–20 INCHES

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5

SANDHILL CRANE

JUL

MAY

6

6

WINGSPAN : 65–83 INCHES

AUG APR

5

WINGSPAN : 51–67 INCHES

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GREAT EGRET

SEPT

EASTERN BLUEBIRD

8

MAR

4

WINGSPAN : 9–12.5 INCHES

OCT

3

9

FEB NOV DEC

JAN

EASTERN BLUEBIRD WINGSPAN : 9–12.5 INCHES

SANDHILL CRANE WINGSPAN : 65–83 INCHES

FLICKER

WINGSPAN : 16.5–20 INCHES

FLICKER

WINGSPAN : 16.5–20 INCHES

GREAT EGRET

WINGSPAN : 51–67 INCHES

EASTERN BLUEBIRD

SANDHILL CRANE WINGSPAN : 65–83 INCHES

WINGSPAN : 9–12.5 INCHES

FLICKER

WINGSPAN : 16.5–20 INCHES

EASTER


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The names and wingspread profiles of migratory birds in the Mississippi Flyway are sandblasted into limestone circles and backpainted gray. The circles extend beyond the crushed limestone circle, helping to define the north/south path of the flyway overhead.

SANDHILL CRANE WINGSPAN : 65–83 INCHES

GREAT EGRET

WINGSPAN : 51–67 INCHES

EASTERN BLUEBIRD WINGSPAN : 9–12.5 INCHES

FLICKER

WINGSPAN : 16.5–20 INCHES


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Forest Preserves of Cook County/Openlands

Tinley Creek Wetlands/Bartel Grasslands Tinley Creek Wetlands/Bartel Grasslands Forest Preserve is an open, spacious grassland with wide vistas and few trails. It is an important birding site, providing habitat for nesting and a stop on the migratory flyway.

Proposed toolkit elements include: • Orientation ring • Trail bridges • Earthen berm • Freestanding signage

Ph P hasse 1 Phas a e2 P as Ph ase 3


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A system of interpretive elements

FPCC Welcome sign/Kiosk

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Orientation ring/Site map

Note that this orientation ring is shown with an optional shade canopy designed to evoke the symmetry and shape of a plant form.


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Forest Preserves of Cook County/Openlands


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Trail bridge

Allows visitors to enter and closely examine wetland areas.


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Trail bridge Words are sandblasted into the bridge’s metal surface and backpainted gray. 44

WATCH F OR : M I G R ATI N G C R A N E S , D U C KS A N D F I N C H E S N O N - M I G R ATO RY B I R D S N E STI N G I N T H E G R ASS

SLUSHY THAW FIRST SIPS THE WET BEGINS

EARLY SPRING MELT MARCH/ A P R I L

LO O K F O R: ARCTIC SPECIES

W I N T E R F R E E Z E J A N UA R Y/ FEBRUA RY

ICY SLIPPERY GROUND HARD AND IMPENETRABLE LIFE SLEEPS

WATCH FOR: MIGRATING WA RBLERS, TA NAGERS, VIREOS

LATE SPRING GROW TH M AY /J U N E

NURTURING NEW LIFE

POOLS AND PUDDLES BAPTISMAL DRINK

WATCH FOR: SEED-EATING BIRDS MIGRAT ING SOUTH

LATE FA LL FLOWS N OVE M B E R/ D E C E M B E R

WATCH FOR: THE FIRST MIGRATORY BIRDS —M O STLY I N S E CT E AT E R S —HEADING SOUTH

DRIP AND DRIZZLE THE FIRST SNOWS AND THE LAND AGAIN POOLS

WATCH FOR : B U T T T E R F L I E S , D R AGO N F L I E S , "TROPIC AL" BIRDS NESTING

SEEK WATER THAT HAS LONG BEEN DRUNK NO WET LAND NOW……

DRY AND CRUSTY REACHING ROOTS AND SPREADING PLANTS

EARLY ARID AU TUMN S E P T E M B E R /OCTOBER

MUCKY RANK MUD (FROM LIQUID TO SOLID) HUMID AIR (LIQUID TO GAS) WATER TRANSFORMS THIRST Y SUMMER J U LY /AU G U S T


A system of interpretive elements

DRIP AND DRIZZLE THE FIRST SNOWS AND THE LAND AGAIN POOLS L AT E FA L L F LOW S NOVE M B E R /DE CE M B E R WATCH FOR: S E E D - E AT I N G B I R D S M I G R AT I N G S O U T H

WATCH FOR : T H E F I R ST M I G R AT O RY B I R D S—MOSTLY I N SECT EATERS —H EA DI N G SOUTH

EARLY ARID AUTUM N SEPTEM BER /OCTOBER

DRY AND CRUSTY REACHING ROOTS AND SPREADING PLANTS SEEK WATER THAT HAS LONG BEEN DRUNK NO WET LAND NOW. . . .

MUCKY RANK MUD (FROM LIQUID TO SOLID) HUMID AIR (LIQUID TO GAS) WATER TRANSFORMS T H IR ST Y SU MMER JULY /AUGUST WATCH FOR : B U T T T E R F L I E S , D R AG O N F L I E S , " TROPIC AL" B I R D S N E ST I N G

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A system of interpretive elements

Trail arch

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Earthen berm

Another way to elevate visitors using an earthen form that is sculpted from the landscape.


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Forest Preserves of Cook County/Openlands


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Earthen berm Cardinal directions and the names of migratory birds on the Mississippi Flyway are sandblasted in the shape of a north/south flight path on a 4' limestone circle and backpainted gray. The circle is inset into and flush with the berm’s surface. 52

E

S

BOBOLINK BLUE-WINGED TEAL EASTERN MEADOWLARK GRASSHOPPER SPARROW SHORT-EARED OWL HENSLOW'S SPARROW ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK NORTHERN HARRIER HENSLOW'S SPARROW DICKCISSEL GRASSHOPPER SPARROW GREAT BLUE HERON HENSLOW'S SPARROW SAVANNAH SPARROW GREAT EGRET HENSLOW'S SPARROW RED-TAILED HAWK GREEN HERON TREE SWALLOW YELLOWLEGS WILSON'S SNIPE GREAT EGRET

N

W


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S

E

BOBOLINK BLUE-WINGED TEAL EASTERN MEADOWLARK GRASSHOPPER SPARROW SHORT-EARED OWL HENSLOW'S SPARROW ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK NORTHERN HARRIER HENSLOW'S SPARROW DICKCISSEL GRASSHOPPER SPARROW GREAT BLUE HERON HENSLOW'S SPARROW SAVANNAH SPARROW GREAT EGRET HENSLOW'S SPARROW RED-TAILED HAWK GREEN HERON TREE SWALLOW YELLOWLEGS WILSON'S SNIPE GREAT EGRET

N

W


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Forest Preserves of Cook County / Openlands

Interpretive sign: Living the skylife Letterforms are sandblasted into a galvanized steel, polymer, or wooden surface and backpainted dark gray.

LIVING THE SKYLIFE TO BE A BIRD, WINGING ACROSS THE SKY ITS INTERNAL COMPASS, IMPOSSIBLY ACCURATE ACROSS THOUSANDS OF MIGRATORY MILES NORTH AND SOUTH YEAR AFTER YEAR THE SAME STOPPING GROUNDS INCLUDING RIGHT HERE


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Forest Preserves of Cook County / Openlands

App development The interpretive elements described in this proposal are by design low impact, causing minimal physical intrusion on the landscape. Supplementary interpretation will be developed in the form of digital tools such as an app, mobile optimized website, downloadable audio and video, etc. These tools needn’t be developed completely from scratch. The architecture exists in hiking apps designed for other settings. A team was assembled to develop recommendations for interpretive content and a Request for Proposals written. It is expected that this content will be modified as needed to take best advantage of the digital medium.

Interpretive goals • Stimulate feelings of wonder and care for nature by facilitating positive experiences that connect people to the earth. • Communicate the value of stewardship: that it is an activity undertaken by and for people to protect the source of our basic needs for water, air and food—i.e., healthy land and to protect animal and plant life. • Provide basic site information and orientation • Provide opportunity to interact and share experience with others • Promote the leadership role of FPCC in regional land conservation. Primary audiences for digital interpretation • Casual, recreational users • Off-site visitors • Youth

Content/messages (working outline): General information A. Location, directions B. Site map • Overview of site with main features (parking, trails, restrooms, etc.) • Integrated GPS so users can pinpoint their location as they walk C. Background about the site • Brief history • General habitat info about wetlands, grasslands • About the FPCC and site partners


A system of interpretive elements

Field guide A. By the six seasons: click on time of year to find the birds, animals and plants most likely to be seen (select top 10-15 of each as appropriate) • Spring (March – May): wet; migrant season • Late spring/early summer (Mother’s Day – 4th of July) • Summer (July – Aug.) • Late summer/early fall (Aug. – Sept.) • Late fall (Oct. – Nov.) • Winter (Nov. – Feb.) B. Birds [cross listed from seasonal list] • General info including call • Sightings – citizen science; link to existing? C. Other animals [again, cross-listed from above; includes mammals, reptiles, insects] • General info • Sightings – way to record, share images? D. Plants • Identification key • General info • Native vs. non-native

Walks to look by A. Trail walks – more information based • More in-depth interpretation correlated with stops along the trail • Start and stop: council ring, interpretive nodes, pier • Stories of different “stakeholders”: ecologist; farmer; bird; coyote; waterdrop; etc. • Still Reading the Landscape; Sun (position), Land (water content) etc. B. Thematic walks – more affective • Time (season; evening; dawn; etc.) • Sensory walk • The Unseen Preserve (ancient; nighttime; underground; microscopic)

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Games for families A. Purpose: encourage interaction, both with one another as well as with site Interactive connections with other site users and world beyond site A. Opportunities to see observations of prior visitors and leave own observations B. Opportunities to share experience on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc.)


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Forest Preserves of Cook County / Openlands

Incorporating artwork into FPCC sites Artists can bring an imaginative visual vocabulary to the work of interpretation that goes beyond traditional signs and exhibits. The elements of the toolkit were designed to be not just interpretive and functional, but artistic as well. In other words, they may be viewed as sculptural forms in the landscape that can help expand the way visitors see and experience nature. Artistic interpretation also offers a more affective form of engagement, providing another way for visitors to feel a connection to nature and hopefully, inspire interest in its protection.

Every preserve has stories and messages that are well suited to artistic treatment. Examples might include: • Drain tile piece: A major part of the restoration effort has involved removing miles of drain tile installed by the early settlers. The tiles are largely underground and invisible, but they had an enormous impact on the development of the land. An artist could be engaged to re-fashion the tiles into an interpretive piece about their important role and influence (for example, a fountain illustrating the movement of water out of the preserve and into the gulf.) • Habitat frame: An open, concave frame, properly sized and sited with respect to the stance of a viewer, could literally frame and indicate different habitat types across a vista. Dividers within the frame can serve as markers to help visitors “read” and differentiate the landscape. The frame could also be a humorous reference to the Great Art that hangs in museums, only here the art is the landscape.

• Water “window”: Water is the defining element of wetlands sites. A core aspect of the restoration involves managing the water levels. This aspect of the site is often invisible to visitors, however, occurring largely below the ground. A horizontal window installed over one of the underground valves would allow visitors to view and measure changing levels, perhaps even playing a monitoring role over time. Its design could be playful—a window into the earth. • Restoration as sculpture: removing trees, building prairie ridges, forming ponds, planting plants; watching to see how the landscape responds to our actions; the very act of restoration is a sculpting of the landscape such that it becomes an expression of its true, inherent character; interpret as such. • Temporary art exhibitions: Artists could be invited either to develop or display (outdoor) work that supports the key messages and/or experience of the preserve. Siting would be an issue—ensuring that the artwork enhances the visitors’ experience while not disrupting the habitat.


A system of interpretive elements

Generic development process Step one: Determine goals and parameters • Purpose: What are the site’s main interpretive messages? How will the artwork support those messages and enhance visitors’ experience? • Product: Determine how much direction be given about the work - nature of the object: sculpture; mosaic; mural; etc. - nature of visitor interaction: looking only? climbing? touching? - materials palette: any materials suggestive of the site? - other criteria: durability; graffiti removal; etc. • Budget: Determine a figure or range

Step two: Identify artist • Draft a Request for Proposals based on information determined in Step One; include both design and fabrication services • Develop list of local artists, designers, organizations and web sites for solicitation • Alternatively: issue a Request for Qualifications to assemble a narrower but more targeted list of potential respondents; follow w/RFP • Develop criteria for evaluating responses • Review responses and invite finalists to present • Select winning candidate • Draft contract Step three: Design and fabrication • Review proposed concepts with artist and agree on direction • Work out schedule for review, approvals, final designs • Fabricate and install

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Forest Preserves of Cook County / Openlands

Project team Openlands Gerald Adelmann, President & CEO Linda Masters Robert Megquier Joseph Roth Forest Preserves of Cook County Arnold Randall, General Superintendent James Chelsvig Cathy Geraghty David Kircher Mary Laraia Chris Merenowicz Chip O’Leary Don Parker John Regalado Chris Slattery Jacqui Ulrich Karen Vaughan Daniel White Bartel Grassland Volunteers Audubon – Chicago Region Stephen Packard Judy Pollock U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Louise Clemency

Principal consultant and project manager Lisa Roberts, naturalia, inc. Design consultants Wheeler Kearns Architects Studio Blue Other consultants Huddleston McBride Drainage Living Habitats Stantec Wills Burke Kelsey Associates, Ltd.