An Unexpected Meeting Resulting From an Unexpected Walk in Lyman Woods

On Thursday May 22 members of the DuPage County Forest Preserve District, the Downers Grove Park District, ERA Consultants, several concerned residents, and three of us from the Pierce Downers Heritage Alliance met at the Park District to discuss damage done to Lyman Woods. The following email sums it all up pretty well. Sometimes the system works pretty well, too.

From : Mark Thoman

To: All

On behalf of the Pierce Downers Heritage Alliance, along with Chris and Dave, I’d like to thank everyone for meeting with (private resident) Mr.B, (private resident)Ms. M, and (private president) regarding the Area 3 work on the south side oak savanna at Lyman Woods.

I had not realized Mr. B’s investure in the history and welfare of this area. It is apparent this area is very near and dear to his heart; more like a loved child than mere plants and trees, so I have a better understanding of his passion and his personal pain and hurt to see this area damaged.

We at PDHA also appreciate the manner and frank honesty of how the DG Park District and the Forest Preserve have documented the process of how the damage was incurred, and note that no one has attempted to dodge any responsibility. Apologies were clear and frank. There is no disagreement, and no constructive gain to be made circling that past issue.

What we did hear, and are encouraged by, is that this is being used as a check on process; that this will be used as a guide in the future for work here and elsewhere to ensure a more thoughtful process that addresses potential problems much more proactively.

The main issues we are concerned with are recognized and being addressed:

– The fatally damaged tree saplings will be marked and dealt with. Trees stripped of chunks of bark are ugly and unfortunate. Fortunately, no significant trees received potentially fatal damage to the vascular layer.

– The trails that were damaged by the front loaders are being remedied in as minimally invasive a manner as is doable. Some trail areas may be blocked off to enhance healing, with signage explaining what is happening. Midwest replacement seed will be hand cast to assure no inadvertent spill over into existing areas. Although Mr. B was not satisfied with the use of seed not produced at this site, it remains a fact of nature that the birds and mammals of the area are not exclusive, and they are responsible for naturally spreading seed over a much wider area including Lyman Woods. The use of midwest seed stock is measured and prudent given the time frame and circumstance, and both the PD and FP are cognizant of the need to only use seed type that pre-exists in the immediate Area 3 oak savanna.

– The garlic mustard removal procedure is potentially one for further investigation. Plans call for controlled burns every two or three years, but both organizations seem amenable to a 5 year yearly burn attempt, to get on top of the problem, starting this year and continuing for the next couple years at least. While PDHA has supported hand pulling in the past, all other parties presented evidence that burning is the better, more natural, less invasive method, and so we should support that, and we will do our part to help in any way seen fit by the PD or FP. I have to think with the restrictions and permit process required, our participation will probably amount to “stay out of the way, please”. This message of observing only, from a safe distance, may need reinforcing to Mr. B (and other concerned residents), despite his considerable knowledge of the means and uses, and inherent liability and physical dangers, of controlled burns.

I know I am glossing over many other areas of discussion. We are confident the PD and the FP, along with ERA Consultants, under the continued watchful eyes of Mr. B, will move forward fixing these problems. Given how robustly and quickly other restoration projects have taken hold in DuPage County, we expect this area will come back fairly quickly also.

Again, everyone, for taking the after hours time and extra effort to engage constructively on these issues regarding Lyman Woods, thank you.

Best Regards,

Mark Thoman

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