Young oak trees will soon be popping up in Lisle parks thanks to the Lisle Park District’s Oak Tree Regenerative Project. Oaks support hundreds of beneficial insects and including more trees is part of Lisle Park District’s pollinator recovery plan.  The DuPage Monarch Project is pleased to announce Lisle Park District has received the 2022 Jane Foulser Habitat Award for undertaking an innovative, multi-year project of germinating hundreds of acorns and planting young oak trees throughout their parks in the next several years.

The overall number of bees and butterflies is declining due in part to changing land use patterns. Developed areas and farm fields now dominate the Illinois landscape, leaving fewer patches of prairie, wetlands and woodlands for pollinators.  In DuPage, parks, preserves and backyards offer places where habitat can be restored.  The question is, what makes the best habitat for the greatest number of bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects?  Oaks are part of the answer.  As a keystone plant providing benefits for many beneficial insects, each oak tree is the foundation for an entire community of plants and animals.

Naturalized area along Yackley Path
Lisle Park District photo: Ryan Jensen

Lisle Park District’s Oak Regeneration project began last year with a bumper crop of acorns. “Like any good squirrel we decided to stock up and grow our own trees,” said Ryan Jensen, the park district’s naturalist.  Acorns were collected from the district’s white, burr, swamp white, chinkapin, and dwarf chinkapin trees. The acorns were refrigerated over the winter then planted into pots in March. Hundreds of seedlings germinated this year.  In spring 2023, some will be transferred to larger pots and about 100 of the white and burr oak seedlings will be planted in the parks.

Oak seedlings
photo Ryan Jensen

“It’s exciting to see our DuPage Monarch Project partners at the Lisle Park District advance our collective commitment to pollinators by planting more oaks, which are so vital to the wildlife in our area,” said DuPage County Forest Preserve president Daniel Hebreard.  “Congratulations to the Lisle Park District for this well-deserved recognition.”

Lisle Park District’s commitment to providing healthy biodiverse pollinator habitat will be recognized by the DuPage Monarch Project at Native Bees: Why are they important and how can we help them?  a virtual program hosted by The Conservation Foundation on October 5, 7:00 pm.

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