« All News

Forest Preserves Shifts to Propane

Forest Preserves employees posing with new propane mowers

New mowers use cleaner, greener, less expensive fuel.

This July, as part of an ongoing effort to make its operations as green and economical as possible, the Forest Preserves of Cook County converted 16 new gasoline-fueled large riding lawn mowers to propane power.

Maintaining 69,000 acres of open space requires a lot of vehicles and fuel. To mow the lawns in picnic groves and along roadsides, the agency maintains a fleet of 65 large riding mowers (16 of which are now propane-fueled), 102 push mowers and 108 line trimmers, all in heavy use from April through October. The factory conversion of 16 new Gravely Pro-Turn 472LP mowers to propane will significantly lower the environmental impact of grove maintenance.

The properties of propane make it much less likely to contaminate soil and water than gasoline. Perhaps most importantly, propane burns more cleanly than gasoline or diesel, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 26 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by 60 percent, as well as reducing emissions of other air pollutants.

By converting to propane from unleaded gas in these mowers, the Forest Preserves will save approximately $0.89 per gallon. The use of propane also extends engine life and reduces refueling time in the field. The District has been using biodiesel fuel in many of its vehicles for the last eight years and has been studying the costs and benefits of adding additional fuel-efficient vehicles.