DeKALB – Those red, orange and, in many cases, brown plants along the north side of the Nature Trail between Route 23 and First Street? They’re not a sign of an early change of the season, but indicative of herbicides doing what they’re supposed to do, all part of the restoration plan for the 1.3-mile trail.
Amy Doll, executive director of the DeKalb Park District, addressed residents’ concerns with a news release that said the herbicide was applied by a ComEd contractor – part of the annual maintenance of vegetation under the power lines. Doll conceded that some shrubs were killed by accident, but also said that they’ll be replaced with plants the same species and size, at no cost to the district.
“While we are very disappointed that some of these shrubs were destroyed, and we don’t like the way the plants along the trail look right now, we will make sure that these shrubs are replaced,” park district board President Phil Young said in the release. “We are excited for the future plants and all of the restoration work that will enhance this trail in the coming years.”
Residents’ concerns were warranted, given the trail’s history with ComEd, which took heat in 2012. Residents complained that the company ruined the natural environment of the trail by cutting all trees and other plants beneath the power lines on the north side of the trail.
ComEd then cleared vegetation along the trail in early March 2017.
The park district has since received a $10,000 grant from ComEd, part of its Openlands conservation organization, as well as donations from the DeKalb Rotary Club toward the rehab of the trail. The club donated $2,000 in the summer of 2017, and also recently held a hike and bike event to benefit the trail.
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.
The park district in June approved a nearly $41,000 bid by DeKalb-based Encap to carry out the plan to finish restoring the trail.
The plan calls for herbicide calls for eradication of non-native, undesirable and invasive species, and the areas will be seeded with small tree and shrub plantings, which will include a diverse mix of native grasses and flowers, the release says. It adds that the plants will bloom throughout the year, and that the native grasses will assist with soil stabilization.
According to the release, in the coming weeks, Encap will apply follow-up herbicide along the trail and will start mowing to remove the vegetation. That will clear the site for the reseeding, and planting of the replacement shrubs will happen in the spring, the release said.