From left, Lydia Scott of the Chicago Region Trees Initiative, Mayor Stephen Hagerty and Dynergy representatives Tamika Cole and Brad Watson at the tree-planting ceremony in Raymond Park May 22.  RoundTable photo

Evanston became a little greener last week when Dynergy Energy donated 40 trees to be planted in parks and parkways throughout the City. Crews planted the first of these trees in Raymond Park, with a ceremony to commemorate the donation. 

Mayor Stephen Hagerty welcomed guests and thanked Dynergy for the donation.

“As a City, we are proud to partner with Dynegy to bring clean, green energy to 70% of Evanston households via our renewable electric aggregation contract. That we have a partner that has joined with Morton Arboretum’s Tree Initiative is an added bonus.

“In addition to these three beautiful trees that will be planted at Raymond Park, the City’s Forestry Division will plant an additional 37 trees around the City. These trees will help support and diversify Evanston’s tree population and will replace some of those lost due to the emerald ash borer, Dutch elm disease and extreme weather events.

“Not only do trees beautify our neighborhoods, they also reduce greenhouse gas pollution, decrease stormwater runoff, provide habitat for our wildlife, and promote healthier communities. Evanston has been designated as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation for the last 35 years. This support will help us maintain that designation for the next 35 years or more.”

The Mayor also joked about a tree’s  favorite drink being root beer.

“We take pride in donating trees to communities like Evanston, which have forward-thinking sustainability goals and an immediate need for trees,” said Brad Watson, Community Affairs Senior Director for Dynergy.

“Trees are the building blocks of vibrant communities” said Lydia Scott, Chicago Region Trees Initiative Director.

The City began in 2000 to diversify its trees, said Environmental Services Coordinator Paul D’Agostino. “This was based on an inventory we did that year that showed how over-planted we were with maples, lindens, ashes and honey locusts. We stopped planting those species at that point because they each made up well over 10% of the overall population.” The emerald ash borer and the Dutch elm beetle have devastated hundreds of trees here. Since 2006, the spread of the emerald ash borer has led to the removal of nearly 3,000 ash trees throughout the City.  Approximately 400 trees are removed each year due to the emerald ash borer, Dutch elm disease and extreme weather events, according to the City.

Mr. D’Agostino helped Dynergy representatives select the varieties of trees and the locations. A huge maple tree had shaded the spot in the north-central part of Raymond Park near where those trees were planted, he said. “The neighbors weren’t happy about losing the tree, but it had to come down,” he said. One of those neighbors, standing next to him, indicated she still missed the maple tree.

After the Raymond Park ceremony, City crews continued their planting in the park and will plant the remaining trees in the coming days.

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...