Perkins Woods Update and Volunteer Day Feb. 9

Posted on Monday Feb 04, 2013

Perkins Woods is located in northwest Evanston at the corner of Grant and Ewing Streets. It is the only Forest Preserve in Evanston. It was purchased it in 1918, and in 1948 was named for Dwight Perkins, the founder of the Forest Preserve, who lived nearby. It is a 7.5 acre remnant of what was once an extensive forest, which, in 1920, Lillian Simmons of Northwestern University called the "morainic swamp forest," with swamp white oak the dominant tree. In the mid-1850s, the forest was popularly known by white settlers as "the big woods."

Perkins Woods has been impacted by invasive species such as buckthorn, honeysuckle and garlic mustard, which out compete the native shrubs and wildflowers for light by greening up earlier in the spring and holding their leaves later into fall. The seeds/berries of these plants are brought in by birds. Because it is part of the original native woodland, ecological restoration efforts are directed at removing invasive species in order to give the native plants a chance to thrive. 

Perkins Woods is very wet in a typical spring, has a beautiful native spring flora display, and is an important stopover for migrating birds.

Activity is picking up in Dwight Perkins Woods, now that the Forest Preserve District has decided on a 5-foot crushed granite path to replace all of the present asphalt paths. Installation of the new paths is expected to be done by late July.

A Steering Committee of volunteers held its first Ecological Restoration workday on January 12, 2013. Fifty-two volunteers, including families, 15 ETHS students, neighbors and people who just love the woods, turned out to cut and drag about 800 buckthorn plants, which the Forest Preserve District chipped up the following Monday. The Forest Preserve District’s ecologist John Raudenbush estimates that volunteers saved the district more than the $5,000 it would have cost if district contractors had performed the same amount of work.

Volunteers Needed for Workday Feb. 9

From 9 a.m. to noon on February 9, volunteers will be cutting down buckthorns and honeysuckles at Perkins Woods.  For more information and to learn how to volunteer for the workday, please contact Libby Hill at