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Canal Shores is not just for golf. It is 82 acres of green space, only about half of which is allocated to golf. The rest is occupied by habitats attractive to migrating birds.  

On April 17, Canal Shores and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, which is responsible for controlling our floodwaters and cleaning our sewage, are partnering to plant sapling trees along the North Shore Channel. The kickoff volunteer planting event will be held at Canal Shores from 9:30 a.m. to noon, and volunteers are welcome most Saturday mornings thereafter. 

Why the Collaboration Between a Community Golf Course and a Countywide Governmental Agency? 

Canal Shores lies on land leased from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, so the collaboration is a natural. Under the rubric “Restore the Canopy,” MWRD is donating 150 red, bur, and swamp white oak saplings. Its website explains, “As a form of green infrastructure, a medium-sized oak tree can help prevent flooding and improve water quality by absorbing 2,800 gallons of rainfall per year.” 

Although it will be many years before these sapling slow-growing oaks absorb that amount, we plant trees for the future, for our grandchildren, not for now. MWRD recognizes that trees are a vital part of the solution, a green accompaniment to the highly engineered Deep Tunnel. Trees provide not only beauty, long valued by Evanston as an official Tree City. Their other benefits include purifying air, acting as sound barriers, and shading our houses in the summer, reducing energy bills.

Why Oaks? 

Oaks dominated the Evanston landscape before there was an Evanston. They grew along the ridges and in the higher, drier ground, and black oaks even grew in the sandy areas along the lakeshore. Doug Tallamy, Professor of Agriculture and Natural Resources  at the University of Delaware, has made oaks a major focus of his research. He has learned that oak trees support more than 500 species of insects. 

Although many people consider them nuisances to be avoided, our planet Earth’s ecosystem depends on a wide variety of insects  to support the diversity of birds and pollinators responsible for controlling each other and for pollinating the plants that produce human food – even the feed for animals.

The saplings, some of which may include other native species, will be planted along the North Shore Channel, replacing the non-native buckthorn and other invasive species that have grown up on the artificial channel banks composed of spoil dredgings from the creation of the channel.

Volunteers have been removing invasive species to make room for the new arrivals. The saplings will be planted in an enclosed pen, protecting them from wildlife, until they are mature enough to be transplanted. Other plantings will take place along Isabella Woods at the Golf Course’s 10th hole, with Citizens Greener Evanston.

The location of the golf course along the North Shore Channel, with Isabella Woods as a western neighbor, is premier habitat for migrating birds. Canal Shores offers regular bird walks during the spring and fall migration seasons.  

Two loops are specified for birding. The North Loop is about 1¾ miles long and the South Loop about 1¼ miles long.  Maps, parking instructions, and dates for bird walks are available by contacting info@canalshore.org .

For the tree planting on April 17, meet new neighbors, friends and volunteers. Meet on the east side of the Channel, south of Lincoln Street. People can park between the Chandler-Newberger Recreation Center and the North Shore Channel on the north side of the street.  Masks are required.

Volunteers should bring gloves and water, and tools such as shovels or spades if possible and you have them. Everyone will enjoy making a difference to Evanston’s tree canopy.