Preserves, parks in Kane County make it easy to learn about trees

  • This burr oak tree at Mount St. Mary Park has been around for 355 years, is 75 feet tall and has a tree spread of 90 feet, according to the St. Charles Park District.

    This burr oak tree at Mount St. Mary Park has been around for 355 years, is 75 feet tall and has a tree spread of 90 feet, according to the St. Charles Park District. Courtesy of Dave Heun

 
 
Posted10/9/2020 6:00 AM

You don't have to be a "tree hugger" to appreciate the trees in Kane County forest preserves or park district properties.

But it makes it more interesting when you can learn something about specific trees at the same time they catch your eye.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

St. Charles Park District had that in mind with its Big Tree Passport program last month. It was part of "Take a Child Outside" week in St. Charles, but the premise and information it offered should spark a similar interest for all ages year-round. Or at least provide the motivation to get out and enjoy the beauty around us.

This oak tree in Bliss Woods Forest Preserve in Sugar Grove creates a canopy over the road near a parking lot in the preserve.
This oak tree in Bliss Woods Forest Preserve in Sugar Grove creates a canopy over the road near a parking lot in the preserve. - Courtesy of Dave Heun

The park district posted signs by certain trees in its parks that provided all sorts of information.

We came across a sign describing a massive burr oak tree that has caught our attention for years in Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles. Now we know the tree has been around for 355 years, is 75 feet tall and has a tree spread of 90 feet. The sign also gave a quick history lesson about what was going on in the world when the tree was planted in 1665.

The park district promoted the program with the sales pitch of "it's fun to engage your family in a way that's screen-free."

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We would take that a step further in saying that walking or biking in our forest preserves is an excellent way to get your full enjoyment from living in this area. It's common, but hard to believe, that many Tri-Cities residents, all of whom pay taxes to the forest preserve and park districts, have never taken advantage of the network of river and park trails. Or, even easier, just sat on a bench near some magnificent trees.

With the pandemic wiping out many entertainment options, admiring the area's natural settings and public lands is an inexpensive way to spend some time. And, as noted earlier, we are paying for it when the tax bill goes in the mail.

The St. Charles Park District's "Big Tree Passport" program provides information on trees in the city's parks.
The St. Charles Park District's "Big Tree Passport" program provides information on trees in the city's parks. - Courtesy of Dave Heun

That burr oak in Mount St. Mary is one of our favorites, but we've also spotted some beautiful trees in Delnor Woods in St. Charles, Bliss Woods in Sugar Grove and Fabyan Forest Preserve.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But there are thousands of them across the region if you take the time to admire.

For the rescues:

St. Charles' annual Scarecrow Fest has slimmed down to the Scarecrow Stroll this weekend, but the It's All About The Paws organization figures they'll be enough people around to consider adopting some dogs and kittens.

The organization's adoption fundraiser event will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Baker Memorial Park on the east side of the city.

It marks the sixth annual adoption event for It's All About The Paws in hopes of adding onto the more than $10,000 it has raised for rescue organizations and the 50 animals the event has placed in new homes.

Six local rescue organizations will be at the event, in which proceeds from donations, raffles and gift cards will go directly to those organizations involved.

Those favorite foods:

Three of America's favorites -- ice cream, burgers and pizza -- are finally on full display at the Oberweis project on the northwest corner of Fabyan Parkway and Randall Road in Geneva.

It's been more than a year of construction work, and likely a timing issue with the pandemic taking hold, but an Oberweis Ice Cream & Dairy, That Burger Joint and Woodgrain Pizzeria opened right next to each other more than a week ago.

With the opening of That Burger Joint, area residents have also seen the Wahlburgers in St. Charles and The Burger Shop in downtown Geneva also open in the past few months as additions to various other burger restaurants or pubs.

It makes me sure of one thing. "Wimpy" would love to live in the Tri-Cities area. If you don't know who Wimpy is, I'm merely showing my age. If you want to learn more about the most prolific hamburger lover of modern times, simply Google "Popeye cartoon characters."

Thanks to Ray:

The first time I met St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina, he was orchestrating a business mentor program where students in his business classes at St. Charles High School (now East) would spend time with leaders at various businesses.

I was a managing editor at Chronicle Newspapers at that time in the mid- to late-1980s, so we took on a couple of his students, one of which happened to be his son Matt.

Much later, I ran into Ray several times when covering St. Charles East football games for the Daily Herald. He made reporting on the games even more fun by asking baseball trivia questions in the press box while doing his Friday night task as the public address announcer at the games.

When he got into city politics as an alderman and, eventually, as the city's mayor, it was easy to realize this was a fellow well suited to have the city's best interests at heart. It was also clear that his time in working with high school students for so long had developed his keen sense of fairness -- listening to two sides of an issue and parlaying common sense and his ability to research into wise decisions.

In announcing he wasn't going to seek a third term as mayor, my first thought was he knew it was time to do what he loves -- be with his family and travel. Also, his beloved White Sox are going to be really good for an extended period of time, and Ray is likely to be front and center quite often at Guaranteed Rate Field.

We wish him the best and thank him for everything he's done for his city over the past several decades.

The crazy golf shot:

As the local golf season is heading into its final weeks, it seems fitting that I should share the details of my craziest shot of the year. Yes, folks, those who know me well enough to play golf with me on occasion know that I always have some sort of crazy shot each year.

However, this year, it was a near hole-in-one -- or, sort of, depending on your definition of a golf hole.

During the annual TriCity Family Services golf outing fundraiser last month, one of the par-3 holes had a car parked off to the side of the tee box, exclaiming you could win it with a hole in one.

It was about 175 yards to the hole, so I took out a driver for some reason and figured I would just not swing as hard. So, I didn't. And anyone who plays golf knows that likely doesn't work unless you are a professional.

A film review would likely show that I nearly missed the ball, which went screaming straight to my right. It went over the head of my friend Dennis Carr and into his golf cart.

A golf cart has holes for holding drinks, and my ball rattled around inside that hole and popped out. It was a near hole-in-one, and I noticed that the promotion for the prize of a car wasn't specific about which hole it was talking about.

So, it was my crazy shot for the year, but oh, so close to winning a car. Maybe.

dheun@sbcglobal.net

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