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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

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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