Evanston’s large tree population has been a source of pride for residents for generations. However, maintaining the health of Evanston’s urban forest becomes a challenge every time an exotic disease or insect pest is introduced to the area.

To address the challenges and opportunities related to Evanston’s tree population, the City of Evanston’s Parks/Forestry Division and the Openlands Branch of Evanston TreeKeepers are co-sponsoring a special event that will combine education and entertainment. The “Tree Summit: Save Evanston’s Urban Forest,” will be held on Saturday, June 22, at a time and location to be announced.

Speakers at the Summit will include Wally Bobkiewicz, City Manager; Paul D’Agostino, Assistant Director of Public Works for Parks/Forestry; and Wendy Pollock, Evanston TreeKeeper. Entertainment and activities are being finalized; light refreshments will be served and there will be give-aways that will help residents lead a “greener” life. Admission is free and all ages are welcome.

The latest threat to Evanston’s leafy streets and boulevards is the Emerald Ash Borer. Due to this invasive pest, approximately 2,000 of Evanston’s 4,000 public ash trees have been removed or are slated for removal, and it is expected that it is only a matter of time before the remaining ash trees will die.

At the summit, residents will learn more about the negative impacts from losing so many trees, such as lowered air quality and carbon dioxide levels, and what steps are possible to maintain Evanston’s tree population. Community members will be given a chance to support an enhanced tree planting program and to take action together to save Evanston’s urban forest.

With a growing interest in the community for protecting our trees (as is evident by the emergence of an Evanston branch of Openland’s TreeKeepers), the city will continue to educate residents about how to better care for existing trees and will recruit more volunteers to help the City and Evanston TreeKeepers during tree-keeping work days.

This event is part of a larger fundraising and outreach initiative. The city’s goal is to raise $25,000 by the end of September in order to purchase 100 trees (all funds donated will go towards the purchase and planting of additional public trees).

For more information about the Tree Summit or the outreach initiative, please call 3-1-1 or email Kelsey Atkinson at katkinson@cityofevanston.org.