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Native plants to brighten west campus plot

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Coneflowers will help turn land near the UIC Hospital into a prairie.

Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

Next Wednesday, volunteers will start turning a strip of west campus land into prairie, putting in more than 100 native plants.

Coneflowers, dropseed, compass plants and eight other varieties, each about two-and-a-half inches high, will be sown in a 6-by-50-foot plot across Taylor Street from UIC Hospital.

One aim of the pilot prairie project is “to demonstrate what native landscaping can look like on the campus,” said Cynthia Klein-Banai, interim associate chancellor for sustainability.

The effort, which will show people what they can do at their homes as well, might lead to plantings elsewhere on campus, Klein-Banai said.

If something is later built on the vacant lot, the plants “can be rescued and relocated,” said Darlene Ebel of Facilities Management.

A small amount of weeding will be done next spring and prairie plants don’t need much watering, she said.

A similar project conducted two years ago in the quarter-block facing the hospital failed because “it was a little too large to manage,” Ebel said.

Other co-sponsors are UIC’s Women in Science and Engineering and the Motorola Foundation.

Motorola employees are spending the day volunteering on service projects in the Chicago area, with sustainability as the theme.

The work will be done from 2 to 5 p.m.

Volunteers can sign up for a time slot online.

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