Diversification of Wooded Areas for Long-Term Resilience

Diversification of plantings is crucial for the long-term sustainment of a habitat. Without diversity, new diseases and pests that impact one type of plant can have a devastating impact on the overall habitat. Examples of this occurring throughout history include the Emerald Ash Borer and Ash trees, Dutch Elm Disease and Elm trees, the Asian Longhorned Beetle and Maple trees, among other examples.

To diversify the plantings in our parks and mitigate against future losses attributed to disease and insects, staff has developed and implemented diversification strategies throughout all of the Park District park land. The most extensive work has been completed at Crow Island Woods Park, which was severely impacted by Emerald Ash Borer. More than 100 dead and dying Ash trees have been removed and replaced with a variety of native species at varying ages. The restoration at Crow Island Woods Park is ongoing. To learn more, click here.

Crow Island Woods Park: before restoration  (2016)

Crow Island Woods Park: after completion of restoration phases 1 & 2

Native Plantings & Invasive Species Removal

Native plants are those that occur naturally in a region and are what local birds, insects, and other life forms depend on for food and shelter. With urbanization and landscaping, foreign vegetation has been introduced to many natural habitats, negatively impacting local wildlife and outcompeting native vegetation.

As an ongoing initiative, park district staff continuously monitor and assess the natural habitats that exist throughout our 27 park sites, beaches, and Skokie Playfield campus to ensure native vegetation is thriving and invasive species are removed. When necessary, staff will plant new vegetation native to our habitats and remove any invasive species that may exist.

Sustaining the Health & Integrity of Existing Trees

Although most trees are self-sufficient, they do require some level of maintenance to ensure longevity and health. This includes routine pruning of dead and dying branches and twigs, plus the removal of growths at the base. Additionally, mulch is added to non-woodland area trees to protect against landscape equipment, aids in soil moisture and helps prevent the growth of unwanted vegetation.

Shoreline Stabilization

Due to fluctuating water levels, high waves, and other factors, shorelines throughout Lake Michigan are experiencing erosion at unprecedented rates, with some shorelines eroding at a rate of 17 feet per year. Our own lakefront has been negatively impacted by shoreline erosion, with Lloyd Beach being the most severely impacted.

The Winnetka Park District is currently consulting with Shabica & Associates, a coastal engineering firm, to develop a plan for stabilizing the shoreline at Lloyd Beach. The plan includes the design and engineering of a revetment and breakwater. For more information on this initiative, click here.

Lloyd Boat Launch shoreline in 2011

Lloyd Boat Launch shoreline in 2018

Bluff Restoration

As with shoreline erosion, bluff erosion is a major concern across Lake Michigan. A bluff is a type of broad, rounded cliff, with most bordering a beach, river, or other coastal area. The bluffs across our five lakefront properties have been impacted by erosion due to high waves and stormwater runoff from rainfall.

To preserve and protect our bluffs, the Winnetka Park District has undertaken the following initiatives.

Completed in the spring of 2018, dead and invasive vegetation and trees were cleared along the upper bluffs at Tower Road and Lloyd Beach.

Lloyd Boat Launch: Before upper bluff clearing

Lloyd Boat Launch: After upper bluff clearing

The park district is currently working with The Lakota Group to develop a comprehensive plan for restoring and enhancing the bluffs across our five lakefront properties. The plan was partially funded by a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and is expected to be complete early 2019, at which point priorities, costs, funding, etc. will be determined for implementation. For more information on this initiative, click here.

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