The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is one of many voices in our region that recognizes the impact humans can have, for good or ill, on our natural environment: “Whether you own one acre or one thousand, the decisions you make and the actions you take regarding your property affect the nonhuman species that reside or visit there. . . How you manage that land while it is in your care will have an impact long after you are gone.”
Our Village recognized the importance of our woodlands in the enactment of the Woodland Protection Ordinance and Tree Preservation Ordinance, and in the various cost-share programs offered to residents (canopy and subcanopy tree thinning; invasive shrub removal; garlic mustard removal; native tree and shrub planting; native ground layer seeding; prescribed burning; rain gardens). All of these efforts are meant to help residents restore balance to the natural environment in which we reside.
Benefits of a prescribed burn. One tool that is recommended and used by local land managers, such as the Chicago Wilderness consortium and the Lake County Forest Preserve, is prescribed or controlled burning. Unlike fall leaf burning, which is a simple cleanup mechanism used by homeowners, a prescribed burn offers numerous benefits including efficient invasive removal, nutritional recycling, and increased seed production by native flora. This is NOT a method to be used by novices or lawn-care companies. It should only be used by trained professionals, properly permitted by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and local authorities, as part of a comprehensive natural landscaping plan. When done correctly, in a limited area with wind speed and direction taken into consideration, prescribed burning is safe and has minimal impact on adjacent neighbors.
Frequently, a native seed mix is distributed over the burned area. The optimal time for sowing a native seed mix following a burn is in the fall.
Village program. A permit is necessary before a prescribed burn can be done. The first step in obtaining the permit is to have an ecological consultation with the Village Ecologist. Once approval from the Ecologist is given and the Village permit is applied for and obtained, residents must also obtain an Illinois EPA burn permit, which can take up to three months to obtain. Burns must be done by professional contractors certified by the Village.