Mettawa Cost Share Opportunity for Invasive Shrub and Tree Removal

We thank the residents and Village of Mettawa for clearing invasive shrubs within the community! Within three weeks of our cost-share mini-grants becoming available, residents successfully depleted the fund and as of June 2021, most of the clearing was completed.

Mettawa is nestled within Lake County’s largest remaining woodland, so the actions its residents have taken will have a large impact on its strength. Healthy woodlands provide flood control, clean air, cooler temperatures, clean water, beauty, stress relief, wildlife habitat, and more. Invasive shrubs and trees, however, reduce those benefits and cause long-lasting damage to soil, wildlife, and the entire ecosystem.

We regularly hear the same reaction from those who have removed buckthorn, honeysuckle, or other invasives from their woodlands: “It looks so much better now, and it is easier to walk on my property. I also see more sunshine, wildflowers, songbirds, and butterflies.”

About this Project

This work is funded by the U.S. Forest Service through a Landscape Scale Restoration Grant. Collaborative Partners are the Lake County Forest Preserve District, The Morton Arboretum, Openlands, McHenry County Conservation District, The Land Conservancy of McHenry County, The Conservation Foundation, DuPage County Forest Preserve District, Kendall County Forest Preserve District, and the Chicago Region Trees Initiative.

Local Partners are the Village of Mettawa and Mettawa Open Lands Association.

Openlands is a nonprofit 501c3 conservation organization, established in 1963 that, in Lake County, focuses its oak ecosystem work on the Villages of Mettawa, Riverwoods, Lincolnshire and Libertyville, where it continues to build upon the work of Conserve Lake County, which merged into Openlands in 2018. This effort is part of the Openlands Lands in Harmony program to support ecologically resilient landscapes in Lake County, IL. Openlands is an equal opportunity provider.

Growing the Tree Canopy

Trees are one of the best nature-based solutions for the Chicago region to tackle climate change – reducing local heat island effects, controlling stormwater, and improving air quality for all residents. There are over 3.5 million trees in the City of Chicago and over 150 million regionally, which clean our air, capture carbon, and build community. Mature trees offer exponentially greater benefits than small trees and that our program offers necessary and helpful tree maintenance to help get City trees to maturity. In addition, trees are proven to improve community well-being, safety, and economic health. 

But in many communities, our tree canopy—the percentage of the ground shaded by tree branches and leaves—is far below what we need to have a climate resilient metropolis. As the Sun-Times Reports, “Since 2010, due to disease and other factors, Chicago has lost an average of 10,000 more trees than it has planted every year. That’s 200 fewer trees in each of the city’s 50 wards on average each year. The city now has a tree canopy that covers just 19% of its land. The metropolitan area has a canopy of 15.5%. By comparison, New York has 21% coverage and Los Angeles has 25%. “

Communities with the greatest and most diverse citizen participation are often resilient and strong. Engaging citizens to address environmental issues is essential for educated decision-making. Openlands’ approach to caring for and understanding the Urban Forest gives communities resources for involvement in animating civil discourse and action. An approach that is rooted in our mission of connecting people to nature, we work with communities to plant diverse tree species in their neighborhoods, train hundreds of people each year to care for the tree canopy in their parks and on their blocks, and advocate for science-based policies and strategies to protect the existing urban forest for generations to come. 

There are many ways to care for the trees with Openlands, including adopting a tree to care for.