Dean Nature Sactuary hosts open house
Barbara Richardson shows brothers Andrew, 12, Jacob, 6, and Nicholas Roeda, 7, of Glen Ellyn, what can happen to a canoe that gets trapped on the wrong side of a dam or spillway. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 20, 2012 1:54AM
On Saturday, people of all ages gathered at the Sam and Dorothy Dean Nature Sanctuary in Oak Brook for a prairie exploration and open house celebration.
The Dean Nature Sanctuary is part of the Chicago Wilderness, a regional alliance dedicated to protecting nature and enriching life. The Dean Nature Sanctuary is home to a variety of ecosystems, such as wetland, forest, pond and prairie. In addition to ecosystems, The Dean Nature Sanctuary holds an abundance of wildlife, such as deer, fox, raccoons, possum and turtles.
Sam Dean — son of Samuel E. Dean, founder of the Dean Evaporated Milk Company in Chicago — and his wife Dorothy purchased the 40 acre property that is the sanctuary in 1939. When Sam Dean died in 1976, his wife remained on the property.
Oak Brook started to run out of property to build upon and developers hounded Dean to sell her property, said Bonnie Gibellina, Oak Brook Park District administrative assistant. Dean didn’t want to see the property developed, so in 1995, she set up a life trust for her property with the assistance of the Conservation Foundation, and the Oak Brook Park District purchased the property. The property was transferred to the park district in January 2005.
“Dorothy loved her property. She was a huge fan of nature and animals. She would put out food for the animals all the time,” Gibellina said.
During Saturday’s event, people could explore the 40-acre park. The site includes a fishing pier, Salt Creek canoe launch, walking trails and prairie restoration.
“We had a great turn out,” Gibellina said. “We estimated that about 150 people were in attendance. Around 20 kids came, which was great to see since June is ‘Leave No Child Inside Month.’”
“Leave No Child Inside Month” was the inspiration behind the prairie exploration and open house celebration. Research shows that time spent in nature fosters a child’s healthy development. Outdoor play helps manage stress and makes a person become more resilient. Natural spaces stimulate imaginations and creativity.
Oaklee’s Family Guide, in partnership with Landscape Concepts Management, donated an oak tree to the Dean Nature Sanctuary Open House as part of its oak tree donation program.
“The children loved the tree planting ceremony,” Gibellina said. “They were so excited to plant and play around with the rakes, garden hoes and shovels. The kids also loved making paper butterflies.”
“Prairie Walk and Talk” with Andy Stahr, founder of ecology + vision and Pizzo and Associates, was among exhibits offered Saturday. Stahr led tours through the Dean Nature Sanctuary prairie and taught people the importance of the various native plants, as well as the effect they have on the diversity of animal, insect, bird and amphibian habitats.
Another attraction was the “Canoe/Kayak Safety Tips” exhibit with the Illinois Paddle Council, Prairie State Canoeist and Openlands organizations. The canoe launch provided an entry way to a 9.25-mile water trail to the Plank Road Meadow Boat Ramp takeout in Lyons, and taught participants safe paddling tips.
Other exhibits included “Flycasting Techniques” presented by Trout Unlimited, “Conservation@Home” with the Conservation Foundation, “Adventures of Herman the Worm” presented by DuPage County Master Gardeners, and “Meet the Wild Ones-Greater DuPage Chapter.”