Aptakisic Creek Tree Removal 'is Beneficial'

Letter to the editor

Well done, Public Works!

Thank you for . The vast majority of those trees were European Buckthorns. To most people, a tree is a tree. What they don’t realize is that buckthorn, the most abundant tree in our region, causes significant harm to our habitats and waterways.

Buckthorn was introduced to the Midwest as a “living fence” to control livestock and later as a screen plant for landscaping. Unfortunately, it does not stay put where it is planted. It escapes and invades woodlands, wetlands and prairies.   It also forms dense stands along river banks.

Buckthorn provides poor quality food and habitat for birds and other wildlife. Worse, it out-competes native plants and poisons the soil with excessive nitrogen from its leaves, eventually killing off everything else trying to grow underneath it. Bare soil is ripe for erosion, which is exactly what happens along many of our local creeks, when eroded stream banks, packed with buckthorn, become totally bare of other vegetation. 

Sediments from erosion foul our local streams and kill aquatic life. In addition, many of our local streams have been found to contain high levels of fecal coliform bacteria. Sunlight is a key to disinfecting and purifying polluted waters. Streams shaded by excessive buckthorns do not allow sunlight to reach the water to work its healing magic. 

As an environmentalist who founded the Buffalo Grove Environmental Action Team and the Buffalo Creek Clean Water Partnership, I am sympathetic to neighbors who notice when trees are removed. We are in the middle of an epidemic of Emerald Ash Borer beetles, which now infects all of the ash trees in our parkways. No one wants to lose additional valuable trees. However, the buckthorn removal work is beneficial to the health of the stream and the environment. It is also long overdue in many other areas of the Village. 

If residents want to learn more about local water and habitat issues, there will be a public meeting of the Buffalo Creek Clean Water Partnership on April 25 at Village Hall. Representatives of the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and Illinois EPA will be present to provide information and listen to citizen concerns. Or come to the habitat restoration day at Rylko Park on April 28, sponsored by the BG Environmental Action Team. We will meet near the Fitness Center at 9 am.

Jeff Weiss

Founder, BG Environmental Action Team, http://www.bgparkdistrict.org/in_environmental.htm

Founder, Buffalo Creek Clean Water Partnership, BuffaloCreekCleanWater.org

Stuart Tindall March 21, 2012 at 11:31 AM
Well, this is a good argument for removal, but only if replacement of the trees occurs.
Cathy March 21, 2012 at 12:35 PM
The fact that some trees needed to be removed is not being argued. We all understand that the Buckthorn had to go, but it wasn't only the Buckthorn that was cut. The problem is that there was no notification that this aggressive cutting was going to take place! After ignoring the creek for nearly 20 years the area was destroyed in less than a week. As far as the residents know there is no plan for any replacement for trees and the grasses that are thought to replace the trees do not offer the privacy, shade and screen that they once enjoyed. Surely you can understand that we are nervous about what the Village may have planned for the rest of the creek after seeing what they have already done. In this information age there is no excuse for the Village not to have let the area residents know what was going on so they could learn about the plan and voice concerns before the project began. There are signs posted when there is hydrant flushing and parkway pruning but nothing when this aggressive cutting is planned?? We can't uncut any trees but we would like to see some approved replacements and better communication because we really do care about the area. You can bet I will be at the meeting on the 25th - what time is it at?
Cathy March 21, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Carla Safron March 21, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Thanks for the valuable information regarding the importance of the removal regarding these trees and its impact on our environment. Most residents of Buffalo Grove and notably, Old Farm, would not disagree nor discourage taking steps to protect our habitat and/or local water. Communication regarding our Village to its residents is key in this issue specifically. It is quite true that in this age of information, it is hardly difficult to communicate upcoming activities. Furthermore, a great regard for the environment has been communicated, yet as pointed out in a previous post, there are no plans to complete the process. If there is truly a concern here, as communicated in this letter to the editor, then please stand behind that with actions to close the loop by replanting. We all care about our Village and the environment here. Let's not use that as an excuse to conduct half of a project and then walk away.
Patrick Madigan March 21, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Over the past couple of years everyone in government wants to be transparent. That being said, nobody was given notice that a "slash and burn" edict was given to the public works/park district to not only cut down the trees but also the bushes that lined the river and bicycle/jogging path. I am sure that nobody is arguing the need to rid the area of trees considered bad for the watershed, it is just no notice was given. The work has now stopped, and promisses were made to be a bit more transparent with notices going to be mailed out. Let us hope that this occurs sooner rather than later.
Alan Danenberg March 21, 2012 at 02:39 PM
There isn't one person who would argue that the trees/bushes/other growth surrounding the creek didn't need to be trimmed, thinned out, and cleaned up. The creek was being choked by what is growing and what has fallen into it. The banks have clearly eroded. The issue, Jeff, goes further than that. As previous posters have stated so well, our outstanding Public Works department missed the opportunity to get everyone on "their side" by not communicating their plans and rationale ahead of time. This growth occurred over a period of over 20 years without any real attention. The "slash and burn" occurred without notice over a couple of days. We have since received conflicting information about any plan to restore the area beyond just letting natural grasses grow. We do not know which trees were buckthorn and which were anything else, since they are all just gone. Many of the stumps that have been left are 15-20" in diameter! We love our neighborhood, we all moved here for things like shaded parks and walking/biking paths. If you come and personally see what is left, and compare it to pictures of what it was, you too will be shocked. We know the village had the best of intentions as well, but if we had not questioned what was going on, this may well have continued to many other neighborhoods that have trees and creeks. Remember, environment includes appearance, not just science.
Jeff Weiss March 24, 2012 at 12:12 PM
The meeting of the Buffalo Creek Clean Water Partnership is at 7 pm in the Council Chambers at Village Hall. See you there! Jeff Weiss
Jeff Weiss March 24, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Of course the environment includes appearance, Alan. Perhaps communication with residents could have been better in this case, but I have personally been to two public meetings hosted by Public Works where this issue was presented and discussed with the handful of residents who attended. How many meetings, notifications and discussions are sufficient? Does Public Works need to negotiate with every resident over every dying ash tree in Buffalo Grove? Personally, I'm glad to see some real work accomplished and to be able participate in the discussion it sparked. I wish that discussion could proceed out of a spirit of inquiry and understanding rather than anger. Your post is a good example of the former!
Cathy March 24, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Again, Jeff, posting signs would have made a big difference and maybe all that is needed to be sufficient. The last time PW was working on the creek we (the residents) asked to PLEASE be informed on future creek work. No information was conveyed to the area residents. Pity that all this could have been avoided but wasn't.
Jeff Weiss March 24, 2012 at 12:57 PM
I share your concern about completion of the project. I can only suggest you let Public Works know your opinion. Their resources may soon be completely tied up with ash tree removal due to the emerald ash borer epidemic. The BG Environmental Action Team is a group of concerned citizens, sponsored by the BG Park District, that strives to raise awareness, improve our community’s natural environment and encourage sustainability practices for present and future generations. We have been working with the Village on a range of issues - recycling, habitat, clean water, transportation, a community "greenfest," energy aggregation. Check us out at www.bgeat.org and come to our next meeting at the Alcott Center at 7 pm on April 19.
Jeff Weiss March 24, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Patrick, none of the work was performed by the BG Park District. "Slash and burn" is a form of agriculture practiced mainly in rain forests. While the term is colorful, it may not be an accurate depiction of the work that was recently performed along the creek stream banks.
Cathy March 24, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Again, the last time PW was working on the creek we walked to the bridge and asked about the area. PW said that they would not be doing work there because that property was under the Park District. Now we know that they were wrong (or misinformed) the PD only controls 3% of the property - still the PD should have known what was going on even on 3% of their property.
Alan Danenberg March 24, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Jeff - one meeting would be sufficient, if the people in the neighborhood specifically affected had been notified. If I want to put up a tall fence, thus altering my neighbors view and the appearance of my property, I have to apply for a permit, and the village will post a sign on my lawn notifying all who can see it of the public hearing. It doesn't do any good to have discussion in a meeting that no one knows about. We're not talking about "every dying ash tree", or routine trimming/cleanup, we are talking about an elective measure that had a drastic impact on the area. Even the PW officials have acknowledged that they should have communicated in advance. If you look at the before/after pix, I think slash & burn is a reasonable description, although "clearcutting" may be more accurate: "removal of every stem (whether commercially viable or not), so no canopy remains...to create certain types of forest ecosystems and to promote select species that require an abundance of sunlight or grow in large, even-age stands." Either way, while there may have been a positive intention (and knowing village officials the way I do, I know the intentions were good), the results are drastic. Open discussion - in advance - would have helped!
IF March 25, 2012 at 02:42 AM
it looks awful now - a wasteland with a view of the electric power generator. We used to take walks along the path; don't think we will do that this summer.. why would anyone in their right mind do that to such a lovely area?! there were many trees and bushes which weren't buckthorn. The path had apple trees, mulberry and a variety of other bushes trees. I've worked on buckthorn removal projects in other areas, none of them looked like a war zone afterwards.


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