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DeKalb Nature Trail planting under way

DeKALB – If you walk down the Nature Trail, you might see the yellow tags still on the hundreds of shrubs crews planted Thursday.

The efforts represent much of the restoration that ComEd, the DeKalb Park District and the DeKalb County Forest Preserve have planned in response to the public outcry last year over ComEd clearing taller trees from around the power lines.

The 1.3-mile trail runs from North First Street near Timber Trail to Sycamore Road near Greenwood Acres Drive in DeKalb.

“What we did [Thursday] is a sustainable plan,” DeKalb Park District Executive Director Cindy Capek said. “The plant material that was put in was selected to work with the transmission lines but also to beautify the Nature Trail.”

They plan to plant about 25 trees within the next week and plant prairie seed within the next month or so, Capek said.

Crews will prepare the ground before planting the seed, but Capek expects it will take a few summers for the prairie to grow to full height.

Two temporary signs explaining the restoration effort will be posted on the site.

It was a collaborative effort. ComEd provided more than 400 plants, as well as some of the labor and other materials.

The DeKalb County Forest Preserve planted 110 more shrubs a couple of weeks ago on the Nature Trail near the Generation Link Trail; forest preserve leaders recently took control of about 1,000 feet of the Nature Trail.

As crews maintain the prairie grass and remove invasive species, they also will remove as many as 75 dead trees, most of them ash trees and some of them infested with emerald ash borer, according to the plan.

The plan was developed by a special committee of ComEd, park district, and forest preserve district representatives, as well as two local residents.

Jane Levinsky, who has lived along the trail for the past 33 years, was one of the residents’ representatives. She said she wished the final plan had included more trees and didn’t feel other committee members always valued the residents’ input.

But Levinsky figures the public outcry and the resulting process showed park board members the Nature Trail is valued and well used and forced ComEd to invest more money in the restoration.

She wrote ComEd’s CEO a letter weeks ago, and company leaders decided to pay for more of the plantings than they had originally offered.

“It took a lot of community pressure to do that,” Levinsky said. “Otherwise, they would have walked away.”

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