• Greener Parks

    Take It In, Take It Out

    The Downers Grove Park District proudly supports the Leave No Trace (LNT) concept in our parks, open space and natural areas. The LNT program was started in the 70s and 80s by the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service. Trash and litter are human impacts that can greatly detract from the naturalness of an area. Show good stewardship by taking out what you take in."Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints."

    Big Belly Solar Trash Compactors

    bigbellyThe "Big Belly" solar garbage normally resides in one of our parks during the spring and summer months. This garbage compacts trash as it takes in. The Big Belly intelligent waste collection system dramatically lowers the operating costs, fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the waste collection process by up to 80%! You can learn more about the Big Belly at www.bigbellysolar.com!

    Prescribed Burns

    Prescribed burning is a land management tool that maintains the health of prairies and oak woods. Non-native and invasive plants are typically killed by fire, while the desirable native species of plants survive. Native plants, adapted to regular burning, not only survive periodic fires but benefit from them. In addition to controlling non-native and invasive plants, controlled burning reduces dead vegetation build-up, recycles nutrients back to the soil, and promotes the regeneration and germination of native plants and seeds.

    Streambank Stabilization

    The Lacey Creek headwaters and wetlands located within Lyman Woods are valuable resources that provide aquatic habitat, storm water storage, passive recreational opportunities, protected open space and many other benefits for the Downers Grove community and the DuPage River watershed. Lyman Woods receives storm water runoff from surrounding office, retail and residential areas. As the surrounding development increased over the years, heavy storm water flows severely eroded stream banks, deposited soil and pollutants into existing wetlands, and reduced water quality within the Lacey Creek Watershed.

    To address these issues and improve and protect the water quality of Lacey Creek, the Lyman Woods Streambank Stabilization Project was implemented in 2004. Utilizing bioengineering solutions such as vegetated geolifts, rock riffles and stepped pools on more than 5,700 linear feet of stream, the project captures, stores and filters stormwater prior to discharge into two Lacey Creek tributaries.

    Additionally, the project restored and protected over 70 acres of woods adjacent to the streams. Restoration efforts have included removal of invasive woody plant species followed by seeding and planting of native vegetation in degraded areas. With completion of woodland restoration, the Park District has engaged in long-term maintenance and monitoring of these areas to ensure success of the restoration efforts.

    The Lyman Woods Streambank Stabilization Project was completed in 2009 and was supported by partnerships with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, the DuPage County Water Quality Improvement program, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

    Invasive Species Management

    Non-native and invasive species are a ubiquitous threat to natural areas. These organisms have been introduced from other parts of the world and, without their natural competitors or diseases, can out-compete native species for resources. Invasive plants can rapidly take over a natural area and form a monoculture, eliminating native plants entirely while non-native animals can quickly multiply and devastate a natural area.

    Invasive non-native plant species are controlled through several measures including hand-pulling, cutting, mowing and selective herbiciding. Herbaceous weeds like garlic mustard are hand-pulled and removed from natural areas, while invasive brush, like honeysuckle and buckthorn, are cut and spot-treated with herbicide. Each fall, volunteers collect, clean and sort native plant seed, which is then sown in restoration areas recently cleared of invasive and non-native plants.

    Non-native and invasive animal species populations are monitored and managed. For example, during the winter, gypsy moth egg masses are counted and sprayed with an oil-based solution that prevents hatching. As new invaders are identified every year, the Downers Grove Park District is constantly evaluating management efforts and adjusting to new threats.

    Natural Grazing

    Each year goats and sheep graze natural areas maintained by the Downers Grove Park District.

    The District has contracts this service with Vegetation Solutions, a Wisconsin-based green business focused on vegetation management through controlled grazing. The herd eats a variety of plants including common buckthorn, honeysuckle, roses, spotted knapweed, Queen Anne's lace and even poison ivy. During their visit, the animals will clear approximately 6 feet of browse line reducing the growth height. Clearing the invasive species will allow favorable plants to grow in these areas.

    The livestock are kept in their paddock by a low-voltage electric fence. The District asks for visitors to keep themselves and leashed dogs away from the fence during this time. Keep in mind that the goats are working during their visit--please look, but don't touch.


    The Downers Grove Park District has been a leader in environmental initiatives for many years beginning with the dedication of Belmont Prairie as an Illinois Nature Preserve in 1979, the preservation of Lyman Woods as open space in 1986 and the construction of the William F. Sherman, Jr. Interpretive Center in 2003. The District's ongoing efforts towards being a responsible environmental steward led to the creation of a "Green Committee" and the development of environmental guidelines for daily business operations. The guidelines are used as a tool to assist staff in the promotion of sound environmental practices in the workplace. Click here to view the environmental guidelines.

  • Greener Buildings

    Earth Flag

    You'll see an Earth Flag flying outside some of our facilities - the flag shows that the district passed the requirements to become a designated Earth Flag organization due to our commitment to the environment. below are a few of the green features you'll find in our facilities.

    William Sherman Interpretive Center

    The Interpretive Center at Lyman Woods is the Park District's most eco-friendly building. It was designed and constructed with green building materials including steel frame construction, Hardie board siding, water and energy saving fixtures as well as a green roof with native prairie plants. The center is now host to many of the district's nature-themed programming and camps.

    Visit the Nature Center page for more details of the building's green features.

    Recreation Center

    The Recreation Center was built with water saving fixtures in the rest rooms and locker rooms. Over 20 lbs. of water bottles are recycled per week from the Fitness Center and 75 lbs. of paper are recycled per month from the Recreation Center facility. In addition the building has the following green features:

    • Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs or LED lights for recessed or can lighting
    • Lighting Upgrades -T8 overhead lighting
    • Motion sensors on lights in mostly empty rooms (offices)
    • Energy efficient windows
    • Low flow faucets & toilets
    • Native plant landscaping
    • Sky light in lobby "free" light for natural lighting
    • Indoor Plants (golden pothos & peace lily are best air cleaners)
    • Foam Soap (reduces soap usage by 75%)
    • Bike racks for employees and residents

    Lincoln Center

    In 2005, the Lincoln Center light fixtures were replaced with more energy efficient fixtures. District facilities recycle paper, plastic, aluminum, cartridges, toners, and obsolete equipment. The Lincoln Center also has the following green features:

    • Motion sensors on lights in mostly empty rooms (some offices)
    • Energy efficient windows installed in 1990's with double pane
    • Native plant landscaping
    • Effective recycling program in place (plastic, paper, cardboard, aluminum, steel, glass)
    • Foam Soap (reduces soap usage by 75%)
    • Bike racks for employees

    Downers Grove Golf Club

    The Golf Course has recycling receptacles on the course for plastic, aluminum and glass containers and recently installed automatic hand dryers in the restrooms.

    • Motion sensors on lights in mostly empty rooms (bathrooms and offices)
    • Energy efficient windows installed
    • Windows & doors adequately sealed
    • Low flow faucets & toilets with automatic sensors
    • Native plant landscape - Yearly burns
    • Electrical driers in bathroom replace all paper toweling
    • Effective recycling program in place (plastic, paper, cardboard, aluminum, steel, glass)
    • Bins on all course tee boxes for cans and bottles to be recycled
    • Sustainable golf course management = low pesticides & fertilizers/native plants

    Downers Grove Museum

    The Museum is a green facility in many ways:

    • Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs or LED lights for lamps and can lighting
    • Lighting Upgrades - OH bulbs at carriage house
    • Native plant landscaping
    • Rain barrel/rain garden - rain barrel at carriage house
    • Bike rack for employees and visitors
    • Natural, unbleached, recycled content paper towels, tissue & napkins
    • Effective recycling program in place (plastic, paper, cardboard, aluminum, steel, glass)
    • Composting program in place - Coffee grounds

    Administration Building

    • The District reduces the use of paper by double-siding documents and using electronic communications when possible.
    • The seasonal Recreation & Parks Guide and Park Avenues newsletter is printed on recycled paper with eco-friendly inks.
    • The District requests green alternates on bids for playground equipment, construction projects and vehicles and turf equipment.
  • Green Events

    Arbor Day Celebration

    The Downers Grove Park District celebrates Arbor Day every April. Each year a tree planting demonstration from the park district's forester is held for local school children.

    DG 5 Miler

    The annual DG 5 Miler race is a certified CARA Green Race. Green practices included using reusbale totes instead of plastic bags for race bags, providing shoe recycling bins for old running shoes on race day; using fewer paper materials for race promotion - and using recycled paper and eco-friendly inks for the fliers we do produce, and using biodegradable race bibs.

    Oak Tree Give-Away

    The Downers Grove Park District gave away 70 one-gallon oak trees from Possibility Place Nursery. The trees were given away to help celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Park District, and the initial Harvest Festival at Fishel Park on October 1, 2016

    Oak Tree Planting

    The Downers Grove Park District and Possibility Place Nursury planted 20 five-gallon oak trees at Lyman Woods on October 15th. The trees, which were donated by Possibility Place, were planted with natural areas restoration volunteers.
  • Recycling

    Shoe Recycling At The Recreation Center

    We've added a new shoe recycling bin in the recreation center lobby - drop your old shoes (any style), into the green bin and they'll be collected by USAgain for recycling. Old ice skates, roller blades, or anything that is considered footwear can be recycled too.

    Rechargeable Battery Recycling Program

    The Park District is host to a rechargeable battery recycling campaign located at the Recreation Center, 4500 Belmont Road. Responsibly recycling batteries saves natural resources and protects human health through reuse of reclaimed materials and by keeping heavy metals out of landfills and water supplies.

    Christmas Tree Recycling Program

    The Downers Grove Park District hosts two drop-off sites for residents who would like to recycle their Christmas trees between December 26 and January 13 each year. Trees are turned into wood chips which will be used as mulch within parks and landscaping projects. Locations are:

    • Whitlock Park, located at 40th Street and Fairview Avenue, in the parking lot off of Fairview.
    • McCollum Park, located at 6801 S. Main Street, in the north parking lot off of 67th Street.
  • trees


    A Comprehensive Tree Inventory of Downers Grove Park District was completed in three phases during the Fall of 2014, Spring of 2015, and Fall of 2015. This inventory resulted in the collection of data for 5,699 trees in 40 park properties.

    Click here for a graphic detailing the results!