IPM report shows methods are effective

The village's approach to managing insects, disease and weeds, which focuses on environmentally sensitive and economically sound practices, is working well.

That was the message of John Finnell, forestry and parks superintendent, at the Feb. 20 Hinsdale Village Board meeting, in his annual integrated pest management report.

"Every year we get this - just like we go to the dentist," Village President Tom Cauley joked before the presentation.

"Hopefully it's not quite as painful," Finnell quipped.

The village's integrated pest management policy dates back to the 1990s, he noted.

"I think this is important because it really sets the stage for village residents," Finnell said. "If you're walking to the park or walking the parkway under the shade trees or in the playgrounds or any of our youth activities, this program impacts those activities quite a bit."

The plan focuses on five different areas: turf maintenance, prairie maintenance, tree preservation, sustainable landscapes and mosquito abatement.

Village staff maintain more than 114 acres of turf in village parks and more than 23 acres in additional green spaces and rights of way. The village uses several methods to improve turf condition: aeration, seeding, watering, fertilization, soil amending and weed control. Chemical herbicides, which are used only when necessary, were not applied in 2023.

The Veeck Park soccer fields are the most heavily used in the village, Finnell said.

"Turf quality has been improving steadily for several years due to annual aerations, top dressing and overseeding to mitigate turf from all the athletic events out there," he said.

The village is responsible for an estimated 14,769 trees on public property such as parkways, parks and street islands. Hinsdale has been managing the threat of emerald ash borer and Dutch elm disease with a variety of programs. The village also plants trees to replace ones that are removed and conducts pruning to improve trees' structure and health as well as to promote safe conditions for motorists and pedestrians.

The village currently maintains three sustainable landscape projects: the Woodlands rain gardens, the Burlington Park wall and planting beds in the central business district.

"The benefits of sustainable landscape beds and these rain gardens include the filtration of pollutants, the reduction of mosquito breeding opportunities and they also provide a pollinator habitat," Finnell said.

Hinsdale is home to two prairies - the Charleston Road Aquatic Garden (1.5 acres across from KLM Park) and the Hinsdale Prairie (3 acres on Jackson between Seventh and Eighth). In 2023, staff performed burns at both locations.

"Native species have adapted to withstand the heat from these prescribed burns, but many non-native or invasive species do not have this ability," Finnell said. "Both natural areas responded well from the burns with native plants flourishing."

The 2024 prescribed burns have been scheduled for late March.

The village works with Clarke Mosquito Management in DuPage County and the Des Plaines Valley Mosquito Abatement District in Cook County. West Nile Cases were up in 2023, with 162 reported human cases in Illinois, including 61 in Cook County and 16 in DuPage County.

The November 1995 IPM policy requires an annual review meeting to be held before the end of February each year.

"I kind of poke fun at this report," Cauley said when Finnell concluded his presentation. "We really do appreciate what you do. I think you've done an outstanding job, particularly with tree preservation. We really love the passion you have for the work."

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean