CHICAGO (WBBM) – The international celebration of Earth Day brought out volunteers Saturday to dozens of sites throughout the Chicago area, doing everything from clean-up work to cultivation of wild habitat.

In some locations, volunteers dredged garbage, fly-dumped construction materials and other debris. At the Deer Grove Forest Preserve in Palatine, the 150 or more volunteers were looking for something far different – buckthorn trees, garlic mustard plants and other invasive species of trees and plants in an effort to recreate an Illinois prairie of 200 years ago.

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District board member Debra Shore was among those who took part in the day-long clean-up and said that Deer Grove represents “a wonderful eco-system.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

Deer Grove Forest Preserve is undergoing a multi-year, $4.5 million restoration financed by the Open Lands Project. Project director Linda Masters is grateful for their work, even though they were only able to clear one or two acres. She said the work has long-term eco-benefit, and said that is what Earth Day is all about — the future of the planet.

Forest preserves comprise about 11 percent of the land in Cook County, and General Superintendent Arnold Randall said there is never a lack of projects for volunteers to undertake, in good financial times and bad. He said volunteers work daily in the forest preserves at cleanup and restoration.

Those who wish to volunteer can sign up online at, or can call (708) 771-1511 to volunteer. Randle says no experience is necessary – just a love of the environment.

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