Evanston forest preserve recruits workday volunteers

Jia You, Assistant City Editor

Dwight Perkins Woods, the only forest preserve in Evanston, is recruiting volunteers to cut down invasive species for a workday Saturday morning, according to a city news release.

The woods, located at the corner of Grant Street and Ewing Avenue, has suffered invasive species such as buckthorn, honeysuckle and garlic mustard that grow from seeds brought in by birds. These invasive species block sunlight for native shrubs and wildflowers because they sprout earlier in spring and wither later in fall, according to the news release.

The Cook County Forest Preserve District is directing efforts to remove these invasive species to protect native ones, according to the news release. A committee of volunteers organized its first ecological restoration workday Jan. 26, in which 53 volunteers cut and dragged about 800 buckhorn plants to be chipped up the following Monday.

John Raudenbush, the district’s ecologist, estimated the volunteers saved the district more than $5,000 by performing work that would otherwise be done by a contractor, according to the news release.

The district purchased the woods in 1918 and named the area after its founder, Dwight Perkins, in 1948, according to the release. The 7.5-acre woods were once an extensive forest dominated by swamp white oak. It provides an important stopover for migrating birds.

The Saturday workday will begin at 9 a.m. and end at noon, according to the news release.

Besides removing invasive species in the woods, the district has also planned to replace its asphalt paths with 5-foot crushed granite paths, according to the news release. It expects to complete the installation by July.

— Jia You