LCFPD and Chicago Bears Combat Buckthorn at Halas Hall

By: Nick Borowitz 05/20/2022

The Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD) and Chicago Bears teamed up to combat common buckthorn at Halas Hall in Lake Forest on Friday, May 13.

Visit Lake County maintains its partnership with Chicago Bears Training Camp at Halas Hall, along with the Illinois Office of Tourism. The Gurnee-located convention and visitors bureau also holds a partnership with the LCFPD and an abundance of the Libertyville-based district’s facilities and locations.

Stay tuned for more details about the NFL organization’s training camp running this summer starting in mid-July.


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This non-native, invasive tree harms native plants and wildlife by out-competing, rapidly growing and taking over large areas of fertile soil.

Buckthorn spreads by birds eating the plant’s fruit. This has a laxative effect, in turn rapidly spreading the seeds as they fly or migrate. The coordinated effort between the training camp’s grounds crew, the LCFPD and volunteers meant that the invasive vegetation was rapidly cleared from around Halas Hall’s Water Payton Center.


Buckthorn was originally introduced back in Illinois’ settlement times for its rapid growth and wood-hardness. It could be harvested quickly and used as timber in home and other structure construction.

While the weather may have been warm and the sun beating down, the orchestrated effort was an impressive feat. Work was carried out around the dirt service roads that circle the training facility. Those clearing the plant worked in groups to quickly remove as much Buckthorn as possible.

The event started at 9:30 a.m. and within an hour of starting, tall piles of the cut-down plant began to form. Volunteers and workers, of all ages, hacked, chopped, trimmed and hauled out the plant in the morning and into the afternoon.

After the cut-down Buckthorn was piled up, it was then placed in the back of a waiting LCFPD truck to be taken for off-site burning. Herbicides would be applied to the exposed roots and stumps of the Buckthorn to prevent growing back and spread.

John Bostrom, Senior Advisor of Safety and Operations from the Bears organization, and Kelly Schultz of the LCFPD, gave opening remarks.

The group of 30-plus volunteers were given a run-down on proper cutting technique and safety practices to observe. Their goal was to clear about 0.3 acres of the invasive plant.

According to a press release from the Bears, roughly 1.5 acres of the Bears’ property has been cleared of buckthorn so far, in addition to about 1.5 acres at Middlefork Savanna Forest Preserve, adjacent to Halas Hall.

Spring has sprung! Take a look at out our guide for activities to take part in.

For more events happening through the summer, click here.

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