Trespassers: stay off UI property

Published 02/20 2013 03:47PM

Updated 02/21 2013 12:53PM

CHAMPAIGN -- People at the UI have a message for people in Champaign-Urbana: stay out. They say walkers have been trespassing on the Illini Forest Plantation.

It's an area meant for student research. The field is in Urbana at the corner of Race and Windsor. Some gates and fences have been forced open.

The UI hopes people stop trespassing because a new problem growing just past the gate could be dangerous. Jay Hayek walked us through the forest to show us just how problematic bush honeysuckle has become. It's an invasive plant species brought in by birds and sometimes pets.

They've sprouted up throughout the field, so now Hayek and students will have to cut them down. In the coming months, they'll be spreading herbicide. If people continue to walk their pets through the field, it could kill them.

The experimental forest is meant to be an outdoor laboratory for students. It's been here since the 50's, but lately it's been a hangout for high school kids and the homeless.

"We had some firewood that our student's club cut and someone stole what they spent all day cutting. We have some really elaborate wooden forts that people put up out here," Hayek said.

Hayek says people walk over from Meadowbrook park, which is only a few feet away.

"I don't think we've posted the fence well enough to let people know that this is a University research site," Hayek said.

That's what the UI is planning to do in the next few weeks. Warning people now, if they use the field for exercise or walking their dogs it could be hazardous to their health.

"We'll find out in the next week or so just how frustrated the public becomes."

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