Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl receives the National Arbor Day Foundation 2015 Tree City Plaque by Paul D’Agostino, assistant director of Public Works/ Forestry.                 RoundTable photo

The City of Evanston has been named a 2014 Tree City USA community by the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of its commitment to effective urban forest management. Paul D’Agostino, assistant director of Public Works/Forestry said, “This is the 31st consecutive year that Evanston has been designated a Tree City USA. We’re still in the top 10 cities in the state for being a Tree City.”

The City was also honored with the Arbor Day Foundation’s 2014 Tree City USA Growth Award for demonstrating environmental improvement and a higher level of tree care.

“One thousand trees were trimmed, and 500 new trees were planted in 2014, thanks to ‘I Heart Evanston Trees’ and the City’s rapid replanting program,” Mr. D’Agostino said.

“I Heart Evanston Trees” is a City-sponsored not-for-profit organization that accepts donations for trees in Evanston. Under the City’s rapid replanting program, residents who have lost a parkway tree may pay extra money for a tree to be planted immediately rather than having to wait, typically two or three years. Mr. D’Agostino said there is “strong support in 2015” for these programs.

In 2014, Forestry Department crews injected 211 elms, and an outside contractor injected 1,503 elms in City parks as well. “As a result, the City has seen only a 1% loss of elms,” Mr. D’Agostino said. Six hundred trees were lost in 2014, he said, principally from damage by the emerald ash borer.

“The City of Evanston is proud to be recognized as a Tree City USA community for the 31st consecutive year,” said Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl. “Evanston’s urban forest is one of our most precious and treasured resources. Trees beautify our award-winning downtown and neighborhoods, provide cleaner air for our residents, and contribute to Evanston’s goal of being the most livable city.”

In order to achieve Tree City USA recognition, communities must meet the program’s four requirements: have a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

This is also the 14th year that Evanston has been honored with the Tree City Growth award. Mr. D’Agostino said major activities in the community were factors in the City’s receiving the award: the tree-planting on Earth Day last year, participation in the United Way Day of Caring and the completion of a geographic information system(GIS-based) inventory of public trees which includes 34,200 trees and planting sites Citywide.

“Everyone benefits when elected officials, volunteers and committed citizens in communities like Evanston make smart investments in urban forests,” said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Trees bring shade to our homes and beauty to our neighborhoods, along with numerous economic, social and environmental benefits.”

Cleaner air, improved storm water management, energy savings and increased property values and commercial activities are among the benefits enjoyed by Tree City USA communities.

The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation, in part-nership with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters.

More information about the program is available at arborday.org/treecityusa.