Quietly working on the Springfield area’s bike trails the last few years, Friends volunteers Greg Feeny and Joel Johnson, are slowly turning the trails into a showcase of landscaping with native species. Most recently, they’ve been working on almost a mile of the Interurban trail, roughly a mile from Woodside trailhead.
Greg started the effort a few years ago, and has been removing invasive vegetation and slowly replacing it with native vegetation. Both avid bikers, Joel joined the efforts. Bikers using the trails have generally been supportive, especially more recently, and the Springfield Park District has provided small signs that alert trail users to ongoing restoration.
Most of the Friends work aims to restore natural landscapes in their natural structure and species assemblages. In other words, we broadcast seed or plant species that are expected to be present, and let them sort each other out. It’s not totally haphazard; we pay attention to moisture requirements, and wouldn’t plant a xeric species in a wet prairie for example, but we are generally not too particular about it. In contrast, Joel’s landscaping at the trail head uses appropriate native species, but planted in an organized way to lend a more formal look. As the plants grow and fill in, they will take on a more natural structure and appearance.
Vern went out to check on the guys to see how they were doing and if there was anything they needed. Said Vern, “I was quite impressed with the sheer magnitude of the work they’ve done. The city and Park District should be very proud of the designs Joel created – that they didn’t pay for.” Much of the native vegetation stock that is being used has been grown in Joel’s greenhouse. Joel has become quite the student of native species and checks in with Vern if there are any questions on species or different varieties.
Greg and Joel have worked by themselves, but more bodies mean we can get a little more accomplished. If interested in helping out, contact Vern for more information at (217) 525-1410.