McClory Trail Pollinator Garden
The Robert McClory Bike Path (a.k.a. The Green Bay Trail) is a 25 mile trail connecting many of the communities along Lake Michigan in the northern suburbs of Chicago. The City of Highland Park has partnered with the Park District of Highland to create the McClory Bike Trail Pollinator Garden. The overarching goal of this initiative is the conversion of the primary cover from invasive vegetation to native species of shrubs, wildflowers, and trees. This will greatly improve the ecological value of this land by providing habitat to pollinating insects, birds, and animals while reducing maintenance cost incurred by invasive vegetation encroachment on the trail.
As with many forest patches in the North Shore, the invasive shrub Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) has become the dominant species in the understory, choking out beneficial native shrubs and perennial wildflowers. Buckthorn also influences overstory trees as it forms dense thickets, limiting what tree seedlings germinate and thrive. This has profoundly impacted the regeneration of many of our native hardwood trees in Highland Park’s Oak/Hickory forests.
This invasive shrub spreads readily and quickly forming monoculture stands, shading out and outcompeting natives for light and resources. With its rapid growth habit, additional financial burdens are created by the spread of this vegetation into walking paths, sidewalks and streets. Thereby requiring significant annual expenditures to remediate obstructions. This impact is present in park district properties, forest preserves, City rights-of way, and private property.
Buckthorn can also cause seriously detrimental consequences in our ravines and bluff where limiting the growth of deep rooted natives can compromise structural stability within the landscape. Recognizing the threat posed by invasive species (such as Buckthorn, Honeysuckle, garlic mustard, Japanese Knotweed, etc...) groups such as the Park district of Highland Park, The Friends of the Green Bay Trail, Lake County/Cook County Forest Preserve Districts, have sought to eliminate invasive species from their public lands.
In 2017, Highland Park received a ComEd Green Region grant to create pollinator friendly habitat along the McClory Bike Trail. Removal of invasive Buckthorn, Honeysuckle, and Norway Maple began that Autumn. Beginning in May 2018 and continuing in 2019, City and Park District Staff along with volunteers from Northwood Middle School and Highland Park High School have installed plugs, shrubs, and trees across two acres of the bike trail.
For more information on this project or to volunteer at an upcoming event, please contact the Forestry Section at 847.432.0807.
Northwood Gives Back @ Lincoln Place (9.26.2019)
Spring 2018-Summer 2019