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ComEd workers back cutting trees along DeKalb Nature Trail

DeKALB – A little more than four years after workers clear-cut trees and other vegetation near power lines along the DeKalb Park District’s Nature Trail, they returned Tuesday to clear vegetation that may interfere with ComEd electrical service.

ComEd representatives met with the DeKalb Park District board in a special meeting last month to outline the work they will be conducting throughout this month.

DeKalb Park District Executive Director Amy Doll said the work is part of a five-year cycle by the provider to ensure reliable electrical service and public safety.

“They do significant work along that trail underneath the power lines,” Doll said. “They’ll be coming in to remove any trees that will grow in excess of 10 feet tall at maturity and will also be rooting buckthorns that grow underneath the power lines, as well.”

Because of this work, there will be periodic closures in certain parts of the 1.3-mile trail, which runs between Sycamore Road and First Street.

Although utility lines run parallel to the trail, the operation is not expected to have any effect on people in the area receiving power, Doll said.

A similar effort by ComEd in 2012 received heavy criticism from the public, who complained they had ruined the atmosphere of the nature trail. All trees and other plants that had been growing beneath the lines were cut down and chipped up.

Invasive plant species, which a ComEd spokesperson noted were prevalent along the nature trail, had been rooted entirely by Asplundh Tree Expert Company, which was contracted by ComEd. This resulted in many tall trees being cleared along the power lines as well.

Residents had characterized the work as “devastation” and a “massacre.”

In response to the outcry from the public, ComEd, park district officials and the DeKalb County Forest Preserve planted trees and shrubs along the trail to restore it to its original state.

Doll said about 15 residents attended the Feb. 27 meeting to voice their displeasure with ComEd’s work in the past.

She added that ComEd officials claimed this would be a more maintenance-based operation with all of the work being done by hand, as opposed to an effort to “reclaim” the area from invasive vegetation back in 2012.

Workers with Asplundh are expected to be tree-trimming four days a week throughout March, depending on the weather.

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