Who is spearheading the restoration of this next section of the Green Bay Trail?
The Friends of the Green Bay Trails, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, has raised and committed $100,000 to restore the Green Bay Trail from the Glencoe Community Garden north of Harbor Street to South Avenue. For each part of the trail’s restoration, the Friends solicits gifts from community residents and businesses, and applies for grants from corporate and environmental foundations as well as from State of Illinois agencies. Beyond that, the Friends has forged collaborations with the Village of Glencoe, Glencoe Park District, and the Chicago Botanic Gardens for additional “in-kind” work and consultation to complete this section of the trail.
What trees will be removed in this section of the trail and why?
The healthy oak, cottonwood, and elm trees that currently line the trail will remain. But the poison ivy and shrubby Buckthorn trees will be removed. The Buckthorn—an invasive species not native to the local ecosystem—shades spring ephemerals and has a poisonous root system that prevents native plants from growing and thriving, thus causing erosion. Buckthorn kills the tadpoles that eat mosquito larvae, and its berries are toxic to children and dogs. As an invasive species, Buckthorn is not susceptible to pests or disease to check its spread. Further, it hosts a fungus and aphid that attract the Asian lady beetle, which can damage trees native to the ecosystem.
What will replace the Buckthorn?
A variety of trees, including Ironweed, Swamp White Oak, and American Hornbeam, and shrubs ranging from Blackhaw Viburnum to Common Witch Hazel will be planted, along with varieties of wildflowers and grasses. When complete, the area will contain more than 100 native trees and twice as many native shrubs.
The removal and re-planting implement a formal plan designed by a licensed landscape architect in partnership with the Friends of the Green Bay Trail, the Village of Glencoe, the Glencoe Park District, and reviewed by the Chicago Botanic Garden to create a natural habitat and to support good drainage along this section of the Green Bay Trail.
How long will the project take?
Due to the generous support of the community and our partners, the restoration project will move quickly—completing the transformation of this section of the trail in one year. Phase One, the cutting and removal of the Buckthorn will be completed in winter of 2018—using the cold months to minimize compaction and other damage to the soil. During Phase Two, the spring and summer of 2018, the area will be prepared for planting. In Phase Three, the fall of 2018, trees and shrubs will be planted; native wildflower and grass seed will be spread and covered with a blanket to protect the seeds from birds and help prevent erosion. Then, Mother Nature takes over: it helps to remember the saying, “The first year they sleep, the second year they creep, and the third year they leap.” It may take a year or two for you to appreciate the transformation after the initial 2018 installation, but we thank you in advance for your patience.
Why is it important to plant native species of trees, shrubs, and flowers?
Native species of vegetation support a natural diversity of life ranging from insects, birds, and other wildlife. A native oak tree, for example, supports many species of caterpillars, vital food source for a baby bird that consumes over 100 caterpillars a day. Some 99 per cent of insects contribute to a healthy ecosystem through pest control, as a food source—for example, dragonfly larvae eat mosquitoes—and as pollinators. In fact, insects pollinate 90 percent of all plants, thus providing one of every three bites of food consumed by human beings. Apart from supporting life cycles of insects, native plants help balance the environment: they sequester carbon, mange water by filtering pollutants and slowing storm water and erosion, and thus sustain the natural habitat. Finally, native vegetation adapts more successfully than non-native vegetation to the extreme shifts of weather in the Chicago area.
How hard will it be to maintain the Green Bay Trail once it has been restored?
The Green Bay Trail project is about restoring a natural habitat; it reintroduces a diverse and thriving ecosystem that once was common to the area in which we live. The restoration of this “cycle of life” will create a natural process of renewal over seasons, years, decades that requires less maintenance of manpower, time, and money to sustain. In short, unlike exotic Asian and European plant species that lack nutritional value, native plants, wild non-hived bees, and other insects contribute to an intricate, thriving ecosystem that is self-renewing and supports a healthier environment. The restoration puts “nature” back in the North Shore suburbs for the wellbeing of plants, wildlife, and human beings.
Why should it matter that restoration of the Green Bay Trail is tackled?
The restoration of the Green Bay Trail—the reintroduction of native plants that support diverse insect and bird species—creates cleaner air, a safer pathway for recreation, and the serenity and enjoyment of nature outside our doors. Like Native Americans hundreds, even thousands of years before us, we walk carefully through nature, carrying with us the responsibility to be good stewards of the land and the life it supports. By caring about restoring the Green Bay Trail to native species, we not only sustain a natural ecosystem, but also show our own civic mindedness to our community and our stewardship of nature.
If you would like to give to this project, to become involved, or wish additional information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Your support is crucial and welcomed.