The Friends of the Green Bay Trail is a 10-year-old volunteer managed non-profit 501(c)3 organization. At the July 16, 2019 meeting of the Evanston Bicycle Club we learned from volunteers Betsy Leibson and Ann Reilly about their work to remove invasive species, restore native plants, and create a healthy habitat.
When they address a section of the trail, they remove buckthorn and poison ivy, then plant native shrubs and wildflower seeds. Native plants are desirable because once they get established they are easier to maintain and they have deep roots that absorb water and prevent flooding. Results are visible quickly in major sections but ongoing work is required, especially around the edges where the seeds of the invasive plants continue to sprout. Another project of the group was the creation of a butterfly sanctuary.
The organization gets their funding from an endowment fund that helps with trail maintenance, by writing grant proposals, identifying sponsors, and donations. They partner with 2 park districts in the north shore, engage native plant specialists, and have community meetings whenever they plan changes to the trail. On the question of controlled burns, Betsy said there is a growing acceptance of that restoration technique, but in some cases the trail is close to residences so burns need careful management. The group sponsors work days and welcomes volunteers with several coming up in August and September. See the Friends of the Green Bay Trail web site for details.
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