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New trees planned for DeKalb Nature Trail

DeKALB – It’s time for new trees on the DeKalb Nature Trail, park board members have decided.

“We’ve sort of left it alone for a while,” DeKalb park board President Phil Young said. “We’ve sort of let it heal itself, but I think it’s time to do something beyond just putting some bushes in.”

In November 2012, work crews hired by ComEd clearcut 1.3 miles of trees and brush in the power line right-of-way along the park district’s Nature Trail between Sycamore Road and First Street.

The trees were removed to avoid problems with power lines.

ComEd, the park district and the DeKalb County Forest Preserve since have planted new shrubs and wildflowers, and some sumac trees are growing along the trail.

Park foreman Josh Clark said the board could plant about 60 trees along an 1,800-foot section from Greenwood Acres Drive to Country Club Lane.

Clark narrowed the list of trees that could be planted to eight species that are on ComEd’s list of approved trees and would not grow taller than 12 feet.

Clark suggested that instead of using money from the district’s $5,000 tree replacement budget, the district seek donations or offer sponsorships to pay for the trees, which would cost $90 or more each.

The board’s attorney, Jim Rock, advised that whatever agreement the district and ComEd reach should be in writing because the only written agreement between the board and ComEd is an easement that authorizes ComEd to trim and remove trees in the right-of-way.

“What we don’t want is a conversation that five years from now the person who had that conversation with us isn’t there anymore and the person responsible for trimming trees in the easement only has one document in front of them that says they can do whatever they want,” Rock said.

Relations between the park district and ComEd were slightly mended Thursday when ComEd trimmed a dozen trees along the southern edge of Hopkins Park between the park and Parkside Drive Apartments at 1329 Sycamore Road.

Park board member Keith Nyquist previously raised concerns about the work, which was followed by a meeting with ComEd to discuss what would actually be done and to ensure a park district staffer would be present.

Three of the trees that were trimmed were on park property, ComEd spokesman Paul Callighan said. On average, crews trimmed 4 to 6 inches from branches, though some branches lost as much as 10 inches.

Nyquist said he was satisfied with ComEd’s tree trimming in Hopkins, other than a surprise visit from ComEd the morning of the Fourth of July. Callighan said a crew showed up on July 4 because the company received a call about arcing power lines. They left after speaking with a park staff member.

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