• ----CLPD Logo Environmental Committee Outlined.jpgENVIRONMENTAL INITIATIVES

    The Crystal Lake Park District has adopted the following strategic areas to direct environmental initiatives.
    • Open Space Planning and Preservation
    • Environmental Education and Interpretation
    • Wise Use of Air, Soil, Water and Wildlife
    • Wise Use of Energy Resources
    • Reduction and Handling of Waste
    • Environmentally Safe Products


    With the addition of a Manager of Natural Resources position, the Park District is developing and implementing ecosystems re-establishment and restoration plans for park natural areas. Recreational access to park natural areas continues to improve with planning and implementing projects such as parking lot and trail establishment at Shamrock Hills. Nature Center programs, social media postings and updated informative signage provide enhanced public interaction with park natural areas. Specific initiatives such as promoting a habitat tree preserved at the Nature Center have served to provide exemplary natural area stewardship for landowners.

    environmental education and interpretation

    The Crystal Lake Park District Nature Center serves as the primary provider of environmental education throughout the district. Open year-round, the Nature Center provides a unique opportunity for young and old alike to experience nature through progressive programs, hands-on activities, seasonal exhibits and volunteer opportunities. Demonstration gardens that include native landscaping and rain barrels are used to educate visitors.

    wise use of air, soil water and wildlife

    The Park District owns and manages two Illinois Nature Preserves, the 185 acres Sterne's Woods and Fen and the 40 acres Wingate Prairie in Veteran Acres Park. More than 300 additional acres of natural areas are also located in the district, including Veteran Acres Park, Lippold Park, Willows Edge Park and Prairie Ridge Conservation Area. Natural resource management in these park natural areas includes control of invasive vegetation, reintroduction of diverse native vegetation and monitoring of ecosystems.

    As the owner and caretaker of Crystal Lake, the Park District performs a variety of management tasks each year, including water quality sampling, hydrology monitoring, aquatic macrophyte sampling, aquatic weed control, and fishery management. In addition to Crystal Lake, the park district manages ponds and waterways in twelve other parks.

    The Park District grounds crews discontinued the routine use of fertilizer and herbicide for general turf care more than ten years ago. Currently, only athletic fields are treated with routine fertilizer (non-phosphorous) and herbicide. Spot application of herbicide by licensed individuals is performed judiciously as needed to control weeds along fence lines, in mulch tree rings and in landscape beds. Cultural weed control practices are used as much as possible, following integrated pest management principles, to reduce the need for herbicide use.


    To increase the efficiency of existing buildings, improved insulation and other upgrades are carried out, while energy saving devices are installed to replace outdated switches, appliances, lights, hand driers and other items. When remodeling or constructing new buildings, green technologies and building products are preferred. A restroom in Veteran Acres Park was constructed to use solar powered electricity.

    reduction and handling of waste

    When visiting high use parks like Main Beach, West Beach, Veteran Acres and Lippold Parks, you will see blue bins for approved recyclables. All other items should be placed in a trash receptacle. We ask for your help in recycling as we continue to improve our efforts to make the world a better place for us and future generations.

    The following clean and empty items are allowed to be placed in the recycling bins:

      • Newspaper, copy paper, magazines, junk mail
      • Corrugated cardboard
      • Chipboard (i.e. - cereal box and pop case)
      • Steel cans
      • Aluminum Cans and clean aluminum foil
      • Plastic bottles, tubs, jugs and jars only - coded 1-7
      • Glass (green, brown, clear) bottles and jars only
      • Aluminum Cans
      • Cartons (i.e. - juice boxes and milk cartons)
      • Styrofoam, including packing peanuts
      • Shredded Paper
      • 6 pack rings
      • Oil containers
      • Grocery bags
      • Plastic bags, bubble wrap



    As part of a commitment to reducing the use of products that pose a hazard to human health and the environment, our custodial and facilities staff have shifted toward utilizing cleaning products with a more positive environmental profile such as using hydrogen peroxide based cleaner/disinfectant where applicable. Several of the frequently used cleaning products are Green Seal Certified. Disposable paper towels used for cleaning have been replaced, where possible, with microfiber products. Ready-to-dispense cleaning products make our bottles refillable. Vacuums with CRI approval and HEPA filters are used to aid in preserving indoor air quality.

    Be Clean, Be Green, Be Healthy!

  • notable environmental programs


    Oak tree seedlings are planted with the aid of volunteers to begin reforestation of natural areas and park space.


    Volunteers regularly join together to eliminate invasive species from Sterne's Woods and Fen, Veteran Acres/Wingate Prairie and Butternut Preserve. View Environmental Volunteer Opportunities on our website.


    A yearly community wide clean up co-sponsored with the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce.


    Annual light recycling drop off at the Main Beach Maintenance Garage leading up to and just after the holiday season.



    Each spring and fall, the Environmental Committee hosts a firewood sale at the Lippold Park Maintenance Building. Firewood is procured from our parks and consists mostly of oaks. Proceeds from the firewood sales are used to purchase pollinator plants to be planted throughout our parks by volunteer staff members.


    For additional information on our enviromental initiatives, please contact Preston Skultety, Manager of Natural Resources at pskultety@crystallakeparks.org.

  • Natural Resource Management Projects

    February 2024:

    A series of natural resource management projects are ongoing at Veteran Acres Park. Within oak groves, invasive underbrush and some less desirable species of trees are being selectively cleared to make way for desirable undergrowth such as spring ephemeral wildflowers. Clearing the smothering invasive brush out of the oak groves will also make way for new oak seedlings to germinate, allowing the oak stands a better opportunity to regenerate and achieve more varied age diversity.

    Among strategies and tactics for oak ecosystem recovery identified in the Chicago Wilderness - Oak Ecosystem Recovery Plan are "Understory and canopy thinning--focused on reducing stem and canopy density..." "Remove and eradicate non-native invasive plant species, especially woody shrub species, that inhibit oak regeneration and shade out native herbaceous species." For more information on oak ecosystem recovery see the full plan at the following link.


    January 2024:

    New work has started on a project to restore ecology in a portion of the oak savanna and dry prairie vegetation communities at Sterne's Woods and Fen. Crews are clearing out invasive bush honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) in the eastern part of the park, where the Sterne's Woods Trail (Red) meets the Moraine View Trail (Green). This work will make way for the dry prairie remnant at this location to expand and recover some of its former size which was smothered by invasive brush. Removing the smothering invasive brush will also allow new oak seedlings to recolonize in the project area, contributing to the Oak Savanna vegetation community known to historically exist there. Native seed and plant reintroductions will be ongoing as the project develops and the existing seed bank potential is assessed.




    The invasive brush and tree control effort at Woodscreek Park has been completed. Ongoing work will involve maintenance control of invasive species during the growing season and installation of desirable native seed.


    A natural resource management project is being carried out at Butternut Preserve. Selective removal of invasive common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) and bush honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) is taking place around the parking lot area. This work will allow for more native species diversity to develop in the project area. This invasive brush removal project combined with the regular ongoing invasive species control work performed by the dedicated site stewards and volunteers at Butternut is having an increasingly noticeable positive impact at the preserve.


    A natural resource management project began at Winding Creek Park and Bike Path. Invasive brush and tree control will be carried out in the western buffer of the ponds both north and south of Village Road. This work is targeting primarily invasive European black alder (Alnus glutinosa) as this species is smothering both areas. In addition, invasive brush such as common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) and bush honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) will be targeted.

    For more information on the invasive potential of European black alder, please see the following link from Morton Arboretum. https://mortonarb.org/plant-and-protect/trees-and-plants/european-black-alder-not-recommended/



    December 2023:

    A natural resource management project is underway at Woodscreek Park. Invasive trees and brush are being removed from the pond buffer. More than 90% of the material being removed is European black alder, a tree once thought to be a good option for landscaping before its invasive potential was realized. The remainder of the material being removed is primarily common buckthorn and bush honeysuckle.

    See the following link for more information on European black alder and its invasive potential.


    The project will help keep undesirable brush and trees from smothering the prairie buffer around the pond and will restore the view of the pond from the path. Supplemental native seed mixes will be installed following the clearing work to bolster native species cover, diversity and aesthetic.