How Great Lakes Landscapes Work
Our native soils were built by thirsty, deep-rooted vegetation that could withstand drought and fire and by vast incredibly productive wetlands. Stormwater entered the streams primarily through the soils, not over land.
When sodbusters converted the land to shallow-rooted annual crops, less water infiltrated the soil and more ran off, taking soil with it. Drain tiles proliferated and ditches carried the "Land Soup."
When developers convert the land to impervious roofs and pavement, with shallow-rooted lawns, pollutant laden water races into the streams. Now there are over 1,000,000 people in the Des Plaines River watershed and flood hazards increase with every new mall and subdivision. The Corps of Engineers predicts that flooding will increase faster than we can build flood control structures.
If we convert even a fraction of our lawns back to deep-rooted vegetation, we can rebuild the sod and reduce runoff so that flood hazards and pollution don't have to continue to increase. We can create a variety of neighborhood spaces and bring more nature into our daily lives.