Marybeth Carlson: 2022 candidate for DuPage County Forest Preserve Board District 3


Party: Democratic

Office sought: DuPage Forest Preserve Commission

City: Westmont

Age: 66

Occupation: Retired State of Illinois farm inspector/adviser

Previous offices held: None


Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?

A: I believe our forests are precious natural wonders. We have lost so much of our natural world and I feel the people who understand this should be the ones who stand to protect our forest preserves. For most of my life, I have worked outdoors and saw what we are losing to change. I want to be a part of history that works to save what we have left.

Q: If you are an incumbent, describe your two biggest contributions to the board. If you are a non-incumbent, describe two ways you would contribute to the board.

A: Recently, I bought the property adjoining my home. My family and I removed trash and razed the building. After researching native plants, non natives were removed and replaced. I worked hours reclaiming the lot and bought native plants and trees. I worked within a budget.

Because of my experience with this, I learned two important things that I can bring to the board. I know the importance of doing research to make sure I am making the right decision, while considering all sides of an issue before I make a decision. And I need to always do the best job in the most practical way, both monetarily and environmentally. As forest preserve commissioner, I would put the same ethics into maintaining our forest preserves for the appreciation and enjoyment of all of us.

Q: What role should the forest preserve play in preserving historic buildings on its land?

A: The forest preserve, on occasion, has the unique ability to safe guard not only our natural history but our agricultural history. Before 1818, Illinois was a prairie with open woodlands and meadows. As the forest gave way to the plow, homesteads were built. If these buildings are judged to be safe, they deserve a place in our forests to show the way of life of our early Illinois settlers.

Reading history in a book is one thing, but walking through a building that was lived in years ago leaves a lasting memory. A person who connects with these buildings by actually experiencing them first hand will be more likely to recognize their importance and understand their worth for future generations.

Q: How would you rate the job the commission is doing to develop existing forest preserves and make them accessible to residents? How would you approach things differently?

A: In the last few years, I have been very impressed by this commission. I have read the master plan and am heartened by it. Our forests are a safe place for re-create, and there is now a push to make our restrooms more accessible. Older persons or families with small children prefer a restroom with running water and flush toilets as opposed to outhouses. This makes the forest more accessible to those people. As your commissioner, I would support any efforts to make our forests accessible to people of all abilities.

Q: What is the most important issue facing the forest preserves in your district and how should it be addressed?

A: Many people have asked me "Why are the trees being removed from our forest?" I love this question because it gives me a chance to explain this important change in our forest preserves. Most of the trees being removed are invasive species.

I believe the removal of invasive species of trees, shrubs and plants is the most important issue facing the forest preserve. Our forests are the last bastion of what Illinois was and a reminder of what we have lost. They offer a home to native plants that depend upon unique conditions and native plant partners to grow and reproduce.

Invasive species crowd out our natives and deprive them of what they need. The removal of invasives restores the natural balance and beauty of the land and provides the correct situation for our native plants. I have done this in my own yard. I removed buckthorn and honeysuckle and was rewarded with Trilliums and Jack-in-the-Pulpit, neither of which I planted. With the right conditions, they returned and flourished.

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