When driving to Shenandoah National Park, kayaking or rafting in the Potomac River, or hiking the Appalachian Trail, you will enjoy breathtaking views of rivers, forests, and other natural landscapes. Equally as appealing are the country roads in the Shenandoah Valley, where you are surrounded by hayfields, apple orchards, barns, and grazing cattle and sheep.
Land does not have to be physically accessible to the public to provide this scenic enjoyment. Its beauty and character can be seen from a public trail or overlook, road, or a recreational area along a river or creek.
While beautiful scenery is most often associated with public parks,most landscapes are compiled of privately owned land. Imagine how disheartened you would feel if you reached an overlook that peers over business parks or if floating on the Shenandoah River meant looking at townhomes and manicured lawns instead of tree-lined streams and wildlife.
Natural and agricultural scenery contribute to rural economies, outdoor recreation, wildlife habitat, and the overall character and livelihood of residents and visitors. This scenic enjoyment is another conservation value of properties protected with conservation easements.
These photographs show scenery of conservation easements and their surrounding areas. Each photo was taken from a public place, meaning these views can be seen by anyone driving down a public road, traveling on a navigable creek or river, or looking from a public overlook.
Only 15 years old, the South Shore Nature Sanctuary is facing its first real crisis. The planned $30 million Tiger Woods redesign of the Jackson Park Golf Course is being touted by the city as being a major new investment for the city’s south side which will help drive new development and draw more visitors to the South Shore and Woodlawn communities, but the plan could partially displace the 4.27-acre nature sanctuary.
Designed by Wolff Clements and Associates and built at the cost of $500,000, the South Shore Nature Sanctuary is an entirely manmade environment. However, the small ecosystem has been around long enough for its vegetation and tall grasses to mature and for birds and other small wildlife to find refuge in it.
There are also various features, such a winding boardwalk and stone fire pit, which are intended to draw people into the ecosystem. And it’s these fire circles and lush prairie that could be replaced by the 12th hole of the redesigned Jackson Park golf course. The dramatic skyline views that residents see from the nature sanctuary are exactly the reason for the intrusion by the golf course—to make for good television footage of golf tournaments with Chicago’s iconic skyline in the backdrop.
This small melting pot of the natural and manmade worlds is what makes this space so special for Chicago, South Shore resident, blogger, and photographer Eric Allix Rogers expresses in a photo essay for Chicago Patterns.
“There is no better vantage point to take in the rich colors of a sunset, or the shimmering fireworks whose staccato rhythms demarcate Chicago summers,” Rogers writes. “Plans to merge the historic golf courses in Jackson Park and the South Shore Cultural Center have put this sanctuary on borrowed time.”
However, Rogers and other South Shore residents are drawing attention to the effort to save the four-acre sanctuary for the community. Using photography, Rogers highlights the beauty of the ecosystem and the skyline views that are available to all residents.
“The South Shore Nature Sanctuary is a marvelous resource for the community and our environment,” Rogers concludes. “Why allow it to be taken away for the exclusive use of golfers?”