The ground may still be covered in white but many naturalists are already thinking green. Local environmentalists recently gathered at the DuPage Environmental summit to promote the value of open space and discuss green initiatives.
“Native Landscaping is a good part of development and that not only is it pretty but it serves a purpose as well,” says Susan Morrow, Ecological Consulting Manager for N Cap Incorporated.
Brook McDonald, President and CEO of the Conservation Foundation, located right here in Naperville, explained what that purpose is. “We still need clean air to breathe. We still need clean water. We need to make sure we have ample outdoor recreational opportunities and have lots of parks and open space.”
Meanwhile, workers from Natural Resource Management were busy cutting down trees in the Green Valley Forest Preserve on the border of Naperville and Wheaton. The workers explain that in order to save the native species of trees, they need to cut down the non-native plants.
There are more than 40,000 acres of open land in DuPage County, which amounts to almost 20 percent of the total space. Experts say it’s important to keep from developing such land.
“Our green infrastructure which is our parks and our forest preserves and our natural resources are just as important to our quality of life in DuPage County as our grey infrastructure, which would be our utilities, roads, and stuff like that,” McDonald explains.
With property values decreasing in the past few years, the Forest Preserve District has seen an increasing number of citizens wiling to sell them property. Forest Preserve District of DuPage County president Dewey Pierotti says it’s because of the generosity of the taxpayers that they’ve been able to purchase all of their property.
“We’re taking this land that we’ve purchased, we’re sitting back and analyzing each and every parsel that we bought and we’re trying to see how it can be better utilized,” says Pierotti.
As for Naperville residents Dave Bove and Kristen Skulizz, they enjoy the peace and quiet that the Green Valley Forest Preserve brings.
“I can’t believe this is so close to where we live. In five-ten minutes and it’s beautiful. We can walk our dog,” said Skulizz.
“It’s definately a getaway when you’re immersed in the forest preserve,” said Bove.
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County last passed an open space referendum in 2005. Experts say they have spent most of that $68 million on preservation, restoration, and land acquisition.
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