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O'Kray: Protecting the past, present and future of Glen Ellyn's trees

Community voice

A beautiful maple tree located outside of a Glen Ellyn Park District recreation center is one of many that didn’t survive the brutal Chicago winter. From cold weather to the infestation of Emerald Ash Borer, trees are experiencing an especially challenging few years.

The park district is dedicated to helping sustain plant life for future generations by protecting and restoring indigenous natural communities such as prairies, woodlands and wetlands. The district has committed to planting 100 trees in 2014 and has recently partnered with the village of Glen Ellyn, a member of the Suburban Tree Consortium, to improve the quality and selection of the newly planted trees.

To date, 74 trees have been planted within our parks, which include a combination of native trees such as hickories and oaks, as well as ornamental trees like the Japanese tree lilac. Roughly 150 oak and wild pear saplings were also planted in the natural areas at Glen Ellyn Manor Park and Churchill Park. Another 77 trees are scheduled to be planted this fall.

During the past year, you may have noticed large orange dots on some of the trees. Sadly, this indicates the tree is infested with Emerald Ash Borer and needs to be removed. The Emerald Ash Borer is an insect that feeds exclusively on ash trees and has proven to be extremely difficult to control. As part of the “Slow the Spread” program, the park district began the process of removing all heavily infested trees in order to save other healthy trees. In 2013, the park district began EAB treatments for some of our ash trees in an effort save the species within the parks. The goal is to save 25 percent of our ash trees and the treatment results have been very promising.

In addition to the 100 Tree and Slow the Spread programs, the park district has also undertaken the challenge of recreating and restoring the oak savanna at Lake Ellyn. It is understandable for you to look at the new natural area and think it is just a big patch of weeds, but in time it will begin to flourish and become a true asset to the park. Native plants will help control erosion, reduce compaction under the trees, decrease flooding, and filter water as it makes its way into Lake Ellyn. Without these measures, Lake Ellyn Park would begin to lose the remnant oak trees. This restoration project is currently in its second year, but it will take another year or two for these native plants to truly begin to thrive.

The Glen Ellyn Park District is committed to tree management, preservation, and the future of the community forest that lies within our parks.

Courtney O’Kray is the marketing and communications supervisor for the Glen Ellyn Park District

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