Advisory group works on plan to restore Sunrise Park
Lake Bluff resident Bill Hermann leads a bluff education community forum Saturday as part of the Sunrise Park and Beach Advisory Citizen Committee. | Vincent D. Johnson~for Sun-Times Media
Short-term bluff restoration proposals
- Develop detailed three- to five-year plan to jumpstart the ecological restoration of the bluff.
- Complete controlled burn on bluff, initially for three consecutive years.
- Remove and apply herbicide to invasive or overgrown understory shrubs and plants, including buckthorn, vines and oriental bittersweet.
- Burn piles of excessive logs and branches from previously cut or downed trees; leave some for wildlife habitat.
- Add native plant seeds and plugs where needed or desired.
- Prune lower branches on some trees to raise the canopy and enhance views.
- Remove invasive trees, including Norway maple and black locust.
Updated: November 15, 2012 9:31AM
LAKE BLUFF — Bill Hermann vividly remembers the day when he saw Lake Michigan from his driveway.
“I live on Center (Avenue) and I walked out to get the paper and I looked up and I saw the lake,” Hermann said of that day seven or eight years ago. “I said, ‘How did that happen?’”
It happened when the Lake Bluff Park District, through a donation from the Lake Bluff Garden Club, cut trees to improve residents’ views of the lake, at the request of some residents.
“There were a lot of cuts and they were done without community input,” Hermann said.
Hermann is now part of the Sunrise Park and Beach Advisory Citizen Committee working to establish short- and long-term goals for restoring and maintaining the ecological health of the community’s Lake Michigan bluff.
Residents who attended a community forum on the bluff Saturday morning noted that little, if anything, has been done to improve the bluff.
Cliff Miller, a designer of formal and naturalistic woodland gardens on the North Shore, said when an invasive species like zebra mussels in Lake Michigan is allowed to take over an area, native vegetation gets squeezed out. That is what is happening with the community’s bluff, he said.
“The bluff had a hundred or more species of vegetation on it,” Miller said. “It is now down to a couple dozen.”
Hermann noted that the group may recommend the Lake Bluff Park District find $20,000 or $25,000 in its budget for annual maintenance of the bluff.
“This is our jewel. This is our identity,” Hermann said of the village’s lakefront. “I think (Park District officials) can find money for restoration in the budget.”
Hermann also said developing a restoration plan is key.
“We want to have a plan so we don’t entertain requests from residents saying ‘Hey, I can’t see the lake’,” he said.
Advisory committee members are recommending the Park District develop a three- to five-year plan for ecological restoration of the bluff and that controlled burns be done for at least three consecutive years to deter unwanted growth.
Hermann and others said community groups need to be enlisted to provide the labor for restoration efforts. One resident said that people need to be brought into the process to save the bluff.
“We need to make this effort a community effort,” Hermann said. “We are not going to leave it all to the professionals. (The Lake Bluff Open Lands Association) is a volunteer organization that can help with this, but we can also get the Indian Guides, Boy Scouts and church groups all involved in tackling this.”
A second bluff education session is slated for late November or early December. Information on the next session will be posted on the Park District website, www.lakebluffparks.org, and on signs in Sunrise Park.