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DuPage County, Morton Arboretum Partnering on Tree Planting Initiative

February 29, 2024

The DuPage County Division of Transportation (DuDOT) will remove invasive species from a portion of the Illinois Prairie Path this spring and replace them with oak trees.

The County recently received an Oak Ecosystems grant from Morton Arboretum and Nicor Gas to fund a pilot project designed to grow new native plants and trees on the path in the area northwest of the intersection of Diversey Parkway and Wiant Road.

"We are pleased to be a part of this effort to reforest the Prairie Path with native species, including a new generation of majestic oak trees. We are grateful to our partners with the Morton Arboretum and Nicor Gas for their help to enhance our landscape for decades," said Mary FitzGerald Ozog, Chair of the County's Transportation Committee.

The first stage is to remove invasive species, including European buckthorn and Japanese Honeysuckle, which degrade environmental health, reduce trail user visibility, and encroach on clear zones where trail users can safely step off the path. Roughly two acres of wooded, invasive trees will be cut flush to the ground and removed from along the Prairie Path. The cut stumps will be treated with an herbicide application to kill the plants. 

"Invasive trees and shrubs represent a staggering 45 percent of Chicago-region trees," said Melissa Custic, The Morton Arboretum's Chicago Region Trees Initiative interim director and operations manager. "Woody invasive plants such as buckthorn wreak havoc on our oak and other native ecosystems. Collaborative work like this to manage invasive species is extremely important for the health of our regional forest and native habitats."

DuDOT staff are trained by certified arborists to prune native tree species in accordance with vegetation management best practices, as well as invasive species removal techniques. No healthy trees will be removed, and no removals will take place on private property.  

The second stage of the project will involve tree planting. The County has selected three different species of oak trees to be planted in this area. Removal of invasive species is expected to begin in March and planting will begin in April or May.

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