THE PARKS DIVISION
The Parks Division manages nearly 600 acres of open space in Downers Grove, as well as maintaining dozens of athletic fields, playgrounds, historic properties, and thousands of trees on park district property. The Parks Division includes a dedicated forester, landscape architect and horticulturalist. The work of the Parks Division helps increase home values, reduce the damage done from flooding and invasive species and contributes to Downers Grove winning accolades such as the best city in Illinois to raise children.
Tree & Bench Tributes
The Downers Grove Park District, a tax-exempt entity, accepts donations to restore and improve Downers Grove's parks and open spaces. Trees and benches make great gifts to both your beneficiary and your favorite park. Best of all, your donation is tax deductible and supports parks community-wide!
Special Event Permits
In order to accommodate the unique needs of large groups, park permit requests with 100 or more attendees are considered a special event and require a special event application to be completed in addition to the park permit request. Fees are based on a four hour minimum.
Vandalism Tipster Award Program
PREVENT SENSELESS DAMAGE. In an effort to reduce and eliminate senseless damage caused by vandalism, the Downers Grove Park District encourages you to report any information you have about individuals causing damage to District property.
$ REWARD $
If the information you provide leads to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator or conspirator, you may be eligible for a reward of $5,000 for vandalism in excess of $2,500.
All communications between the Vandalism Tipster and the Downers Grove Park District are strictly confidential. Call
Portable swings for children with disabilities are available to residents on a weekly sign-out basis at Lincoln Center, McCollum Park Concession and the SEASPAR office. Aerosling swings can be locked onto existing swing sets and are accessible from a wheelchair. The swings can also accept a feeder seat and offer several seating positions to accommodate various needs. For more information call (630) 963-1300.
Thank You for Not Feeding the Waterfowl
While we encourage you to enjoy our park wildlife, we also ask that you let them find their own food sources. Because food supplied by people is easy for birds to obtain, ducks and geese lose their natural migratory instincts. This eventually leads to overpopulation and makes these creatures more susceptible to disease and predators.
Watercraft on Barth Pond
Canoes, kayaks, rowboats and other non-motorized watercraft are allowed on Barth Pond at Patriots Park, 55th Street and Grand Avenue. Please follow all posted boating rules.
The coyote is a common resident of the Chicago suburbs. While it is not surprising to find coyotes in preserves and natural areas, sightings in parks, neighborhoods and even urban areas have become more common. Coyotes are fearful of humans and will typically avoid humans, but there are some steps you can take to minimize interactions:
- Do not leave food or garbage outside - coyotes may be drawn to the small animals who will feed on garbage.
- Supervise small pets and children when they are outdoors
- If a coyote approaches you do not run, instead throw objects, shout and make loud noises to scare the coyote away.
- if you regularly see coyotes while walking your dog, consider carrying a stick or pepper spray.
Parks Operations & Development has two very important roles when it comes to managing 600 acres. Landscape Stewardship and Landscape Maintenance. So what's the difference?
Landscape Maintenance: can be described as the processes taken to mechanically create an environment that is otherwise not naturally occurring. It is generally accepted that every lawn is mowed to a height of 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 inches and that trees and shrubs are trimmed to a uniform shape and size. What is not always considered is that those characteristics are not the natural size, shape, and height that grass, trees and shrubs grow to, but something that is manipulated to create a formal landscape.
Landscape Stewardship: can be defined as the routine actions that are taken to sustain the aesthetic and ecological integrity of a natural or native landscape. It is maintaining property in a manner that allows for natural and native plants to thrive. Once a natural area is created, restored, or enhanced, it must receive proper stewardship in order to thrive. If a natural area is not stewarded it will become overgrown with invasive and weedy species, which is detrimental to ecological integrity and will be aesthetically displeasing. The Stewardship process involves monitoring the vegetation and reacting to changes as they occur over a period of time. Natural areas tend to change over time and need to be monitored to recognize these changes and adapt strategies accordingly.
Mechanical and Chemical Removal
The process of physically cutting, mowing, or brush cutting prairie grasses, invasive species and woody growth multiple times each year coupled with the use of herbicides to control the spread of invasive plants. This method typically includes more staff time, specialized equipment, and the ongoing use of herbicides to control invasive growth.
A prescribed fire is the most widely accepted and cost effective method of natural area stewardship, as it continues the necessary process that nature started thousands of years ago. Once prairie areas become established, the site requires only a minimal amount of care. The mature prairie plants prevent many weeds from becoming established.
Prescribed fire protects wildlife by helping to maintain their prairie habitat by reducing thatch, weeds, and vegetation, and is a natural method to control invasive plant species. Fire releases nutrients back to the soil to stimulate the growth of native plants and increases plant and animal diversity. Controlled fire also reduces undesirable woody growth and reduces the chance of deadly wildfires.
Who does the burning?
Each burn is supervised by a burn boss that has extensive practical experience conducting prescribed burns. The Park District has two burn managers on staff that are certified in the S130/S190 sections for Wildland fire training and are equipped with proper clothing and equipment that meet the National Wildfire Coordination Group (NWCG) standards.
A Burn plan is developed that addresses the specific preparations for the site including:
- Existing site conditions
- Site ecology
- Time of year
- Wind direction
- Relative humidity
- Estimated number of crew members and equipment required to execute the fire safely and effectively.
Are Permits issued?
All prescribed fires are conducted with permits from the state Environmental Protection Agency divisions and the local fire department.
- Illinois EPA
- Village of Downers Grove Fire Department
Who else is notified?
Local fire and police departments are contacted prior to, during, and after the fire. Written notification is sent to property owners adjacent to the burn site.
How often should an area be burned?
After a prairie area is planted and begins to establish, a burn should be conducted when volumes of combustible fuels are available. Each site will develop at various rates. On average it takes approximately 3 years to develop enough fuel to conduct a successful prescribed burn. Following the establishment period, prescribed burns should take place on an alternating year schedule to successfully maintain the prairie.
What precautions are taken?
Although prescribed burning is an excellent management tool, by its own nature, it is potentially dangerous.
- Fire breaks are established prior to the burn day.
- 4 to 8 foot wide fire breaks are mowed, raked, or plowed around the burn area, and are established prior to the burn day to contain the prescribed burn.
- Natural (creeks) and artificial firebreaks (roads, ditches, or ponds) are also utilized to contain the fire.
- Extra water is on hand for fire pumps.
- Backfires (a fire that burns into the prevailing winds) and strip burning (lighting smaller strip areas to reduce excess smoke production) provide better management of the fire and increase the width of fire breaks, thereby reducing the possibility of crossing the fire lane.
What weather conditions are recommended for prescribed burns?
Illinois DNR recommends that "prescribed" burns be conducted between October 1 and April 30.Wind velocities between 5-15 mph. Temperatures should be between 30 - 60 degrees F. Relative Humidity between 25% - 50%
Tree InventoryIn 2016 the Park District completed an inventory of all trees managed by Park Operations & Development. The inventory lists the species, size, health and location of 5,761 trees. Using that data the District created this infographic..