L to R: Beth Slaughter (LZ CUSD 95), Judi Thode (President of AOF), Kevin Scheiwiller (LZ Tree Commission), Bonnie Caputo, Elke Kadzielawski, and Jenna Stanonik (LZ Parks & Recreation Department).

The Ancient Oaks Foundation, along with the Village of Lake Zurich and Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95, were honored yesterday by the Chicago Region Trees Initiative (CRTI) at the Greenbelt Cultural Center in North Chicago (December 11, 2019)

We are proud recipients of an Urban Forestry Partnership Award for our work at Keuchmann Park, now Keuchmann Arboretum. CRTI recognizes people, public and private organizations, and communities that are leaders in protecting, expanding and enhancing the tree canopy in the Chicago Region. We received this award for the revitalization and restoration of Kuechmann Arboretum into a unique open space that highlights the natural oak habitat of the area with a conservation arboretum.

The Village continues its work with Ancient Oaks Foundation and its volunteers to rehabilitate an abandoned walking trail, remove invasive buckthorn, install pollinator vegetation, picnic tables, and benches, while developing three interpretive learning kiosk stations along the trail.  This beautiful natural area is primed to be a unique space within the Lake Zurich area, as this park will highlight passive recreation and natural education opportunities. The former park has been awarded Level One Arboretum Certification by Morton Arboretum’s Arbnet.

Since 2015, the Ancient Oaks Foundation has been clearing invasive buckthorn and weed trees from  Keuchmann Park. With shady buckthorn removed and the tree canopy opened, the sunlight returned to the woodland floor and native woodland plants started popping up from their seeds long dormant. We have also been seeding the area with additional locally native seeds that will help establish a healthy forest floor for the local fauna that depend on this habitat. The Village of Lake Zurich recognized the transformation and value of this native oak and shagbark hickory woodland and made a wonderful decision to save Keuchmann Park for generations to come. We are thrilled with this honor and we are inspired to continue our work in the 60047 area restoring green spaces to health for all to enjoy.