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updated: 3/2/2016 8:06 PM

New Grayslake laws address oak trees, fertilizer

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  • Grayslake village board members have approved local laws meant to help oak trees such as these.

    Grayslake village board members have approved local laws meant to help oak trees such as these.
    Daily Herald file photo


Grayslake village board members have approved two local laws meant to protect oak trees and prevent fertilizer pollution in rainwater runoff.

At a meeting Tuesday night, the Grayslake trustees first voted 4-0 in favor of an ordinance prohibiting the pruning, felling or other wounding of oaks on public parkways and similar property from April 15 until Aug. 15, without written approval from village officials. They said the idea is to prevent the spread of oak wilt, a fatal disease.

Trustees followed with another 4-0 vote to ban phosphorous-based fertilizer for lawn care, except in certain situations. Grayslake joins Mundelein, Antioch, Gurnee, Libertyville and Lindenhurst among towns limiting residential use of fertilizers with phosphorous.

Mayor Rhett Taylor said residents and businesses found not following the ordinances will be treated as potential village code violators subject to a range of fines.

Officials said the law designed to lead to healthier oak trees in the village was spurred by a resident. Taylor said a woman with burr oak trees on her property contacted village officials and claimed a utility company cut them without checking with her first.

Trustee Elizabeth Davies said she appreciated the work of Grayslake's administrators in crafting the local law. Davies said oak trees provide beauty and shade in the village, and are an important part of the ecosystem.

"It's such an important part of our character as a community," she said of the oaks.

Under the ordinance, if wounding occurs or pruning or felling are necessary in response to an emergency such as a storm between April 15 and Aug. 15, a tree dressing must be applied within 24 hours to each wound.

Oak wilt is caused by an exotic fungus that spreads from infected to healthy trees, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The disease kills oak trees in the Midwest and Texas every year.

The other ordinance prohibits use of phosphorous-based fertilizers for lawn care in the village, except for agricultural land and personal gardens. Certain turf and lawn areas also may fall under an exclusion, according to the local law.

Phosphorus helps grass germinate and grow. However, excess phosphorus can be washed from a lawn by rainwater or sprinklers and seep into lakes, streams and other waterways.

Experts have said phosphorous can make waterways vulnerable to weeds and deplete oxygen supplies needed for native life.