The villages of Lake Zurich area are graced with a unique set of natural circumstances. Its spring fed lakes and hilly topography were formed by Ice Age glaciers over 10,000 years ago. Its oak savannas and wetlands are witnesses to thousands of years of history. Local villages own several natural areas from the rare oak woodlands, Oak Ridge Marsh Nature Park and Kuechmann Arboretum, to the high-quality wetland at Brierwood Preserve in Hawthorn Woods.
Diversity of these parks was being lost to invasive weeds such as buckthorn and honeysuckle, along with a lack of prescribed burns have taken their toll. Invasives are overrunning these natural areas, eliminating native wildflowers and trees by preventing their reproduction. Residents could no longer enjoy these areas of passive recreation. Encroachment of invasive plants onto private property decreases property values and causes removal expenses for homeowners.
The Oak Ridge Marsh Conservation Group, a volunteer arm of the LZ Parks Department, was formed in 2007 as a response to threats to these natural areas. In 2014 we became a 501c3 non profit and were renamed the Ancient Oaks Foundation. Our dedicated volunteers have changed a declining oak woodland at the Oak Ridge Marsh Nature Park, 500 Lions Drive, into an area that is full of wildlife, birds, native grasses and flowers. People are now walking and biking its trails, bird watching, and just getting away from it all. It is truly a gem in the Villages’ park system.
We have added to our body of restoration work and now help the villages care for the Oak Ridge Marsh Nature Park, the Community Services building demonstration wetland, Echo Point ( across from the Nature Park), Kuechmann Arboretum, the demonstration raingarden at Paulus Park, the South Oak Grove at Paulus Park, the oak woodland remnant at the Lake Zurich High School, Manor Park Pond, Breezewald Park Pollinator Garden, the Brierwood Preserve in Hawthorn Woods and the Barn Pollinator Garden at Paulus Park . We are a partner with the Village of Lake Zurich and other municipalities in preserving these important natural areas, and work with private landowners to educate them in the care of oaks and other natural areas on private property.We also provide outdoor educational opportunities for all ages, bird nesting box monitoring, opportunities for service hour work days and scout badges. Awardee of the 2019 Chicago Regional Tree Initiative Partnership Award Awardee of the 2020 Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce Impact Award