Fall 2019 Conservationist

From the President

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It’s not news that here at the Forest Preserve District we’re all about trees. We even have one front and center on our logo, an oak. Some of the county’s oaks have been around for over 200 years. Others in their 20s and 30s are in their infancies. Unfortunately, research is telling us there’s no guarantee these stately trees will remain familiar parts of our landscape.

In balanced natural areas, when mature oak trees die the next generation is well on its way to take their place. But in many areas in the preserves, trees like elms, black cherry and European buckthorn are filling these gaps instead, not only taking soil away from oaks but also creating conditions too shady for oaks to grow.

You might be thinking, “As long as some kind of trees are growing there, what difference does it make?” It makes a big difference if you’re a flying squirrel, warbler, or woodpecker, which all need oaks to survive (or if you’re a human who enjoys having these animals in the area).

Red-headed woodpeckers and flying squirrels depend on oaks’ large cavities to raise their young. Wilson’s warblers, American redstarts, common yellowthroats and other migrating birds use oaks as guaranteed “fast food” stops for insects. Without oaks, many of these animals would relocate to other regions.

That’s why the Forest Preserve District is joining other local agencies to mark OAKtober, a month-long tribute to these irreplaceable trees. In this issue of the Conservationist you can read our exclusive interview with an oak and find out why it’s important to have oaks outside of the preserves. You’ll also find a special lineup of programs, each focusing on oaks in a different way, from walks and volunteer workdays to tractor-drawn wagon rides.

So this fall, take a little time to learn about oaks, plant one or just give one a hug. We’ll all be glad you did!

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Daniel Hebreard
President, Forest Preserve District of DuPage County