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2021 in Review at the Osterman Beach Natural Area

166 volunteer-hours over 6 workdays with thousands of plants planted, weed and invasive plants pulled, trees controlled, community engagement facilitated, and learning had — the beach had a great 2021 season! While the open-sand part of the natural area has been challenging due to not allowed use of the space (dogs, people trampling for the last two years), the dunes bordering the beach are lovely and where we focused much of our activities in 2021.

Osterman Beach Observations

  • Sweet William (Dianthus barbatous)

  • Black Medick (Medicago lupulina)

  • Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata)

  • Lance-Leaved Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata)

  • Field Bindweed (Convlvius arvensis)

  • Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

  • American marram grass (Ammophila breviligulata)

  • White Clover (Trifolium repens)

  • Creeping thistle (Cirsium arevense)

  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

  • Common Silverweed (Argentina anserina)

  • Philadelphia fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus)

  • Hoary Vervain (Verbena stricta)

  • Yellow sweet clover (Melilotus offinalis)

  • Rough Bugleweed (Lycopus asper)

  • Wild Four o’Clock (Mirabilis nectaginea)

  • Flowering Spurge (Euphorbia corollata)

  • Low False Bindweed (Calystegia spithamaea)

  • Bittersweet Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)

  • Flat-Topped Goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia)

  • Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)

  • Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

  • Common peppergrass (Lepidium densiflorum)

On the last volunteer day of the year, volunteers from around the community planted almost 2,000 Marram Grass bare-root plants in the beach sand and in the dunes. Plus, spread grass seeds donated to us from the Loyola Beach Dunes Natural Area.

Marram grasses are found almost exclusively on the first line of coastal sand dunes. Their extensive systems of creeping underground stems or rhizomes allow them to thrive under conditions of shifting sands and high winds and to help stabilize and prevent coastal erosion. Stewarding these plants is one way we can do our part to help prevent shoreline erosion and create a healthier habitat for animals, insects, and ourselves.

The Park District also recently installed the new fencing to make it obvious the area is a protected shoreline, closed to dogs and hanging out in it. The rope fencing, while nicer looking, wasn't effective, so we ended up with the metal fence.

As the volunteer site steward, I'm happy to answer any questions. I also ask for the community's help in communicating what the space is for to those individuals and property management companies using it for unintended purposes. Usually, by kindly explaining that it's a natural area, people will say they didn't know and leave it alone afterward.

In 2022, we will continue to steward the native and beneficial plants and control and remove the invasive species, both of which are included in the list above. If you want to reach out by email, it is

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