Trees Matter: Help Eradicate Buckthorn

Guest Article:  Written by Jodi Legieza, Bluestem Ecological Services

View Bluestem’s Video Here!

Common buckthorn is native to Eurasia and was introduced to North America in the 1880’s as an ornamental plant.  Its abundant fruit is dispersed by birds, and it spreads rapidly, replacing native vegetation and lowering native species diversity.

Like many non-native shrubs, common buckthorn leafs out early in spring and retains its leaves late into fall, shading out spring wildflowers and tree seedlings with their canopies.  Buckthorn also alters ecosystem processes in complex ways.  It produces considerable amounts of organic matter, mainly in the form of leaves and woody debris.  The leaves of buckthorn have very high nitrogen (N) content and decompose faster than the leaves of the dominant trees in an Illinois woodland.  During this accelerated decomposition process, beneficial fungi living in the soil are killed in the process.  This fungi, called mycorrhizal fungi, actually help the good trees in our environment extract nutrients from the soil.  When the fungi dies so do our native trees, exposing even more soil for more buckthorn seeds to germinate and grow into buckthorn trees.  It’s a vicious cycle that needs to be broken!   

The above and below ground effects of buckthorn in natural field settings can be devastating.  Both effects are substantial, and researchers were surprised to find that buckthorn contaminated soils inhibit native plant growth as much, or more than, the space their canopies take over above ground  Conservation organizations like BACT are committed to eradicating buckthorn from our ecosystems.  Winter is the best time to cut down buckthorn (and treat their stumps with herbicide or smother the stumps so that the trees don’t grow back).

Visit for consultation on buckthorn removal.   Bluestem Ecological Services is a sustainable company that builds, restores and maintains native ecosystems.








Join Us For Our OakTober Family Fest

Join us for our 2nd annual FREE OakTober Family Fest at Far Field Nature Preserve in Barrington Hills located at Lake Cook and Old Sutton roads.  This is event is free and will include child friendly activities, tree planting, music, bonfires and S’mores.  Last year this event brought a large crowd of families, friends and supporters of the BACT and a great time was had by all.  Bring the whole family and remember to wear suitable shoes and to dress accordingly as we will have this event rain or shine!  If you have any questions please feel free to call our offices at 847.387.3149, visit our facebook page or check back here for any updates.

Far Field Nature Preserve

Sunday, October 6, 2017


Free and open to the public


We Welcome Our 2017 Summer Interns

Our first group of 2017 interns began their work today!  Susan Lenz our Director of Community Engagement is planning and supervising this program this year.

She had the interns begin their day by planting milkweed and will have them participating in stream monitoring later in the week.  Please check back here and on our Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter this week for updates on the progress these students are making.

Outdoor Meditation With Anita Maher Is Sold Out!

THIS EVENT HAS SOLD OUT!  We are planning another meditation event this Fall of 2017 so like and follow our Facebook page for information on all of our events or check back here for further updates!

Join us Sunday morning, May 28th from 10:00am-12:00pm to experience an outdoor meditation session in a beautiful wooded setting.  Anita Maher, Meditation and Yoga Specialist will be leading this event at a wooded preserve that is rarely open to the public and is a little piece of paradise in Barrington Hills.  All levels are welcome.  Please bring water and a mat.

Spots are limited.  Reservations are required.  

Members – Free | Non-members $15.00.   Contact Emily at or call our office at 847-387-3149 to reserve your spot.


Join Us For An Outdoor Meditation Session With Anita Maher

white oakJoin us Sunday morning, May 28th from 10:00am-12:00pm to experience an outdoor meditation session in a beautiful wooded setting.  Anita Maher, Meditation and Yoga Specialist will be leading this event at a wooded preserve that is rarely open to the public and is a little piece of paradise in Barrington Hills.  All levels are welcome.  Please bring water and a mat.

Spots are limited.  Reservations are required.  

Members – Free | Non-members $15.00.   Contact Emily at or call our office at 847-387-3149 to reserve your spot.


Non-member ticket price per person


BHS Student Essay: The Effects of Meditation, Mindfulness and Nature

By:  Audrey Li

In the midst of a seemingly never-ending to-do list, it is important to allot time to yourself to meditate and become more aware of your surroundings.  It is easy to be on autopilot and to become invested in the plethora of tasks you have to complete: it may seem almost inconvenient for you to stop for a moment and to take a break. These past few weeks have been incredibly difficult for me since it was comprised of ultra-high stress levels, standardized testing, and AP testing. While I did have study breaks, I felt guilty for not working to accomplish my tasks and for partaking on a short escape from reality.  It was then that I realized the utmost necessity of taking a break and putting my current tasks on hold.

It is absolutely vital to meditate or to set aside some time for yourself to reflect on your life, completely free of guilt.  I am currently taking a gym class at Barrington High School called Fit for Females.  This class has really made me look forward to Friday mornings because Fridays are dedicated to achieving mindfulness through meditation and yoga.  We are privileged with being given the entire class period to lie down and listen to guided meditations or peaceful meditation music.  I can distinctly recall one Friday in which I was so relieved to finally have forty minutes to myself, completely void of obligations, and to reflect on a particularly difficult week.  My teacher read aloud some guided meditation and she reminded us that we constantly say, “I love you” to our family and friends, but she posed the ultimate question: “How often do you express love for yourself?”  Following the meditation and walking to my next class, I felt rejuvenated.  The meditation session was incredibly cathartic and had imbued me with a great amount of motivation and inspiration to go about the rest of my day.  I realized that although these optimistic feelings were not everlasting, it was pleasurable to hold onto these feelings for even just a short time.

Upon receiving this article assignment, I took it upon myself to consciously spend more time with myself, whether it is indoors or surrounded by the inexhaustible beauty of nature.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided to throw rainy weather at me just as I was about to embark on my daily meditation routine.  I desired to venture out of my comfort zone and meditate in the rain on a Saturday afternoon.  To be completely honest, my initial thoughts upon going outside were to go back inside because it was cold and windy.  Despite these desires, I decided to continue with my meditation.  I began to take notice of the trees that that were swaying back and forth and the vastness of the sky.  I contemplated about how this time next year I will be committed to a college and transend familiarity on the new chapter of my life.  This meditation in the rain made me realize that despite feelings of insecurities, unhappiness, or disappointment, nature will continue to exist and the trees that extend beyond my deck will continue to sway back and forth, regardless of my current troubles, which certainly impelled me to put matters in perspective.

Make meditation a part of your daily life because although the positive feelings it will bring you afterwards are ephemeral, mediation will become a constant in your life and help you feel more confident with your inner self.  Through meditation, you will become more acquainted with yourself because meditation enables you to reflect on your thoughts and gives you an opportunity to embrace your inner confidence and allow negative feelings to, at least, temporarily subside.  I don’t believe there is an ultimate cure for happiness, but meditation does serve as a portal to an alternative dimension away from reality for the time being.  I have noticed that every time I immerse myself in nature and truly look at what is in front of me, I feel more in touch with myself and become less concerned with how others perceive me.  I hope that after reading this article, you feel inclined to dedicate more time to yourself and to make more of an effort to spend less time looking down at technology and more time being surrounded by nature.


Earth Day: How Did It Begin and How Can You Help Celebrate It Year Round?

By Audrey Li

We just celebrated Earth Day with a planting and work day at our Pederson Preserve in Barrington.  High school students and adult volunteers came out to help clean up brush and buckthorn and to plant seedlings grown by the Horticultural Department at the high school.  Why is Earth Day such an important day?  Let’s look at how and why it began.

Prior to the first Earth Day, maintaining and protecting earth’s natural resources was not regarded as a priority.  Factories released pollutants into the air and only a minute portion of the American population engaged in the practice of recycling.  Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, was the founder of the first Earth Day.  The 1962 publication of Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, which boosted public awareness for the environment, the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, and a 1969 fire on Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River, are among the plethora of factors that led to Senator Nelson’s orchestration of the first Earth Day, which he believed was a crucial step in creating an influential environmental movement.

Senator Nelson decided to launch Earth Day on April 22, 1970 to bring attention and awareness to the public about our fragile environment.  He did this with the help of staff, Congressman McCloskey and Dennis Hayes, the national coordinator of the first Earth Day. He chose that day because it landed between Spring Break and exams for college students and was before summer break for high school students thus allowing them to participate.  According to reports in the Baltimore Magazine, 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day events and more than 1,500 colleges and universities and 10,000 grade schools and high schools participated in rallies and speeches held around the country.  Congress even went into recess that day in acknowledgement of the first Earth Day.

This massive success of the first Earth Day also led to the creation of many vital pieces of environmental legislation in the 1970’s, such as the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.  The Environmental Protection Agency was also started in December of 1970 in response to Earth Day.  In 1995, Senator Nelson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for founding Earth Day and for his efforts to raise awareness of the conservation of the earth.

How can you help celebrate Earth Day year round?  Partake in little actions to protect the earth, be mindful of your water usage, reduce your carbon footprint, make your home more energy efficient, and as we are approaching the summer months, go on more outdoor walks and feel at one with nature.

You cannot get through a single day without having on impact on the world around you.  What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

Jane Goodall

Join Us for our Annual Meeting, April 18, 2017 Featuring Guest Speaker Doug Tallamy, Renowned Entomologist and Native Plant Advocate

On Tuesday, April 18 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. we will be hosting speaker Doug Tallamy, a noted entomologist, native plant advocate and author.  This “guru” in the insect and nature world will center his talk around the plight of butterflies and other insects and how each of us can help these important pollinators by supporting biodiversity in our backyards and open spaces.  His research goal is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities.

“We can save nature,” says Tallamy, “but only if we learn to live with nature.” Tallamy suggests each of us can play a role by saving biodiversity where we live.

Doug Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware.  He has authored 85 research publications and two books – Bringing Nature Home:How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens and The Living Landscape, (co-authored with Rick Darke). Tallamy is a regular columnist for Garden Design Magazine and his awards include the Garden Club of America Margaret Douglas Medal for Conservation and the Tom Dodd, Jr. Award of Excellence.

We encourage anyone interested to attend.  There will be a cash bar.  Tickets are free to BACT members, $15.00 to non-members.  Members please e-mail Emily at to reserve your spot.  Non-members, please follow the link below to purchase your ticket.


Ticket price per person

Join now and attend for free!




What We Do

Preserving open space and the vital natural resources that impact the entire region is an important part of the work we do at Barrington Area Conservation Trust (BACT).

Through coWork Day Group Apr 2015-1nservation easements, heritage corridors, and community focused programs BACT works to protect our rural heritage and the environmental health of our entire region.

Did you know that the Barrington area lies in the Upper Fox River watershed?  This means that most of the rainwater that falls in our area flows into the Fox River.  From there, water flows west and south into the Illinois River, then into the Mississippi River and finally, into the Gulf of Mexico.   As you can see, what enters our water from our land impacts many.  Through water we are all connected.

BACT is acting to address the growing concern about our local and global water resources by offering support in your yard, in our community, and in the classroom.

The Conservation@Home, Conservation@Work, and Conservation@School programs bring education and tools to area residents, employees, and students to help apply conservation principles to their own landscapes.

Interested in joining our efforts?  Sign up for an upcoming work day, plan to attend an event, or make a financial donation.

Together we can continue the important work of protecting the open space heritage of our community and our region and positively impact the environment.


BACT Supports Tower Lakes in Green Initiatives.

Rain GardenBarrington Area Conservation Trust applauds the community of Tower Lakes in their efforts to be a truly green community.  BACT was present at Tower Lakes’ second annual Eco Day where they joined other conservation-minded organizations in support of Tower Lakes’ sustainable decision-making.
BACT Executive Director, Lisa Woolford, was the keynote speaker at this years’ event.  Woolford talked about the ways the Conservation Trust has supported Tower Lakes over the years. (Click here to view the presentation slides.)
In 2012, BACT contributed $200,000 to help purchase a 15.5 acre oak woodland located off Route 59 in Tower Lakes.  While the Village of Tower Lakes and Cuba Township co-own the property, BACT holds a conservation easement on the land that will protect it in its current natural state forever.
BACT founded the Tower Lake Drain Watershed Partnership in order to support efforts to improve water quality in this area.  Through its Conservation@Home program, BACT has visited dozens of homes in the Tower Lakes community assisting individual landowners with sustainable options for their own backyards.
BACT continues to support the Tower Lakes community, as well as the communities in the greater Barrington area, to preserve our community’s rare and exceptional open spaces for current and future generations.White pelicans


Summer Habitat Restoration Intern Program

In June, five Barrington High School students participated in the BACT intern program where they learned about habitat restoration at BACT owned Pederson Preserve and Far Field Preserve.  They also participated in stream monitoring at Pederson Preserve.

Each student was asked to complete a questionnaire prior to and after the week program to help the program coordinator, Susan Lenz, gauge program effectiveness.  At the end of each day, Susan asked the students to complete a “reflection log”, answering a few brief questions on what was learned that day.  Susan also challenged the students to prepare a short presentation for parents and BACT board and staff members to illustrate what they learned through their experiences.

The development of future stewards through the various presentations is evident by the video above, created by intern Sean Lucas.  Each student received a framed certificate to commemorate their participation.

Thank you to each student for contributing to BACT’s mission to preserve our community’s rare and exceptional open spaces for current and future generations.

Inspiration from speaker, Chad Pregracke

BACT hosted speaker,   Chad Pregracke, at the 2016 Annual Gathering on Tuesday, April 26 in the ballroom at Barrington’s White House.

Annual GatheringBoys&DaveChad was a perfect fit for the gathering, whose theme was water and the connectedness we all share through our waterways, as his story mirrors the journey BACT has begun with the high school students in our area.  Chad recognized the impact of the BACT Conservation@School program with Barrington High School as an integral way to educate the students on the health of our local streams and inspire students to become more aware and active in local conservation efforts.  As students are being introduced to the life teeming inside Flint Creek on the BHS campus, the effects of the creek on our local watershed, and sharing in clean-up efforts in and along the creek, an environmental ethic is being cultivated in these students.

Chad Pregracke, President and Founder of Living Lands & Waters (LL&W) and 2013 CNN Hero of the Year, led a room full of BACT guests on his personal journey full of challenges and adventures which started as a young adult living on a garbage filled Mississippi River to his current and ongoing efforts to clean this and other rivers’ trash.    Chad’s enthusiasm and perseverance was infectious as he recounted, through a captivating, genuine, and oftentimes humorous presentation, his experiences growing up on the banks of the Mississippi River and the formation of his non-profit river cleanup organization, LL&W.

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Volunteer Appreciation & Orientation Pizza Night

We have had a wonderful response to our Volunteer Kick-off meetings and are excited to offer another opportunity to join us and get a brief background of the organization along with ways you can join as a volunteer.

Join Barrington Area Conservation Trust for pizza on Tuesday, July 19 as we welcome new volunteers and thank our current volunteers, who have logged in over 1180 total volunteer hours!

Come alone or bring a friend and meet at the BACT office in Barrington’s White House, 145 W. Main Street, 2nd floor, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. Enter through the back door.

Please contact Emily at by July 18th to RSVP or for more information.

We can not fulfill our mission to preserve our community’s rare and exceptional open spaces for current and future generations without the help of community members like you!

Students:  This is a great opportunity to earn volunteer hours.

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Native Plant Sale

Order trees & shrubs now through May 1 and order rain barrels as well!

Rain garden design & installation by Ringers Landscaping.

Landscaping with native trees, shrubs, and plants in strategic parts of your yard (in partnership with your turf grass) adds beauty as well as conservation benefits.

Order pick-up is scheduled for Friday, May 20 between noon and 3:00 p.m. in the parking lot at Barrington Village Hall.

To get started with a home consultation, click here or contact our Conservation@Home coordinator Beth Adler at (847) 387-3149.



National Day of Service Work Day Reschedule



Due to the low temperature and subsequent cancellation of our National Day of Service Work Day, we have set an alternate work day:

Sunday, January 24 from 10:00 a.m. to noon.

The location remains at Far Field Preserve located at Old Sutton and Lake-Cook Roads.  Click here for a map and parking information.   Please let us know if you will be able to attend the alternate day by sending us an email at

We hope to see you there!  For questions, please call our office at 847-387-3149.

Summer Internship Opportunity

IMG_0429As an opportunity to students entering tenth through twelfth grades, BACT is offering four internships that will help gain an understanding of and experience with habitat restoration and stream monitoring.  Through assisting with native plant installation and identification as well as invasive plant removal, Flint Creek stream monitoring, and stream data collection/reporting students will be able to participate in activities to broaden their understanding of ecology and environmental topics.


For more information and to apply, please click here.

Deadline to submit applications is April 23, 2016.




BACT Conservation@Home Receives Award

On the evening of December 2, Lake County Stormwater Management Commission honored BACT’s Conservation@Home program with their 2015 Education, Outreach, and Media Award.

Mike Warner, Beth Adler, Lisa Woolford, Steve Mountsier

Mike Warner, Beth Adler, Lisa Woolford, Steve Mountsier

The Conservation@Home program affects water quality in the Fox River Watershed by educating, assisting and recognizing landowners who strive to maintain their land using conservation practices that benefit wildlife, water quality, and the environment.

Michael D. Warner, Executive Director of Lake County Stormwater Management Commission commented that the “program’s success lies in providing landowners with feedback and guidance on ways to improve their properties to better manage stormwater runoff and provide healthy habitat”.  He also commended BACT for “reaching out and educating other groups on conservation values”.


Annual Member & Friends Gathering

Chad _on barge

Barrington Area Conservation Trust is excited to announce Chad Pregracke, 2013 CNN Hero of the Year Award recipient, as featured speaker at our 2016 Annual Gathering.

This years’ gathering will be held on Tuesday, April 26th from 7:00 p.m to 9:00 p.m. in the Barrington White House Ballroom.  Our gathering is free to members and students.  $15.00 for non-members. Light snacks will be served with a cash bar.(Interested in becoming a member?  Click here to learn more and join.)

Chad Pregracke is President and Founder of Living Lands & Waters (LL&W), the world’s only “industrial strength” not-for-profit river cleanup organization.  After spending his life growing up and working on the Mississippi River, Chad formed LL&W in 1998 at age 23.  He was appalled by the amount of garbage in the river and as a driven teenager started his own campaign to clean up the shores.  His determination has grown his quest into a national effort with a full staff and fleet of equipment cleaning rivers around the US.

Chad is a perfect fit for our event as his story mirrors the journey we are beginning to undertake with high school students in our area.  Through BACT’s Conservation@School program with Barrington High School students, we are inspiring future generations here in our own community.  As we introduce students to local impacts on Flint Creek, which runs through the high school campus as well as much of our community, we are helping to create an environmental ethic in young people and develop our next generation of environmental stewards.

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