Photo courtesy of Forest Preserves of Cook County

Photo courtesy of Forest Preserves of Cook County

The Forest Preserves of Cook County’s use of propane autogas mowers has allowed it to reduce emissions and fuel costs. Of its 41 large riding rotary mowers, the Illinois agency has converted 32 to run on the alternative fuel, and hopes to convert 19 more, according to a joint release from the Forest Preserves and Chicago Area Clean Cities.

The Forest Preserves maintains about 70,000 acres of land. In addition to the large riding rotary mowers, its fleet also consists of 90 large tractors with flail mower attachments, 55 push mowers, and 100 line trimmers. All of the equipment is in heavy use between April and October.

In making the switch, Forest Preserves saves $1 per gallon of propane autogas compared to gasoline. Thanks to a federal conversion incentive, the agency was also able to cut down the cost of conversions from $1,000 per mower to $826 per mower. Propane autogas supplier AmeriGas also paid for the tanks and equipment for 11 propane fueling stations. 

The agency began converting its Gravely Pro-Turn 472 mowers to propane autogas in 2013. It is awaiting approval of a grant application to convert the additional mowers.

Forest Preserves of Cook County is one of the oldest and largest forest preserve systems in the country. The agency is currently looking into a number of alternative fuel options and has been using biodiesel fuel in all of its diesel vehicles for more than 10 years.