To the southwest of this point stands a fabulous little savanna, part of the Lake County Forest Preserve District’s Oriole Grove. The white oaks that stand before you are an estimated 200 – 250 years old and were standing here well before the first European settlers came to Lake Bluff. Extensive clearing of invasive species has occurred throughout this oak grove to encourage oak regeneration.
Oaks and hickories characterize the lakefront woodlands and the savannas that once covered the uplands of Lake County. These are the trees that evolved thick fire-resistant bark that could withstand all but the most intense wildfires.
The suppression of wildfires by settlers and farmers caused natural processes to cease and led to the virtual elimination of the Savanna. As fire-sensitive tree species flourished, the savanna became forest and with today’s invasive species, even the forest species are being shaded out and disappearing.
Without significantly higher sunlight levels, oaks will become a thing of the past as oak seedlings require far more sunlight than is currently available. Savanna and woodland restoration is a now race against time.
To the right (west) is a path leading through the Forest Preserve into Lake Forest Open Lands’ properties all the way to Deerpath Road. Note that this trip will take you to a larger grove of oaks that rival those at the Middlefork Savanna. We call this the Southern Grove and it is well worth the trip.