Chicago Was Already Wiping Out Trees. Then the Derecho Hit.

An Urban Forestry Board is needed in Chicago to unsure the health and safety benefits of a flourishing urban forest.

August 24, 2020, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Chicago, Illinois

James Andrews1 / Shutterstock

Nara Schoenberg reported on August 14, 2020 about the devastating toll the recent derecho storm took on the urban tree canopy of Chicago.

"The Chicago region is still assessing the damage caused by a major storm Monday, but the city has received 4,000 emergency calls about tree damage, officials say, and the Forest Preserves of Cook County report that thousands of additional trees have been seriously damaged," according to Schoenberg.

Daniella Pereira, vice president for community conservation at Openlands, follows up that news with commentary calling on the city to establish an Urban Forestry Board to help the city recover and regenerate from that devastation.

Pereira notes that the city was already on pace to remove a record number trees before the storm hit: "Before the recent derecho storm, public records show removals neared 7,300 trees. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the storm took out that same number of trees in one afternoon. That’s a total of 14,600 trees lost in 2020, with 4½ months to go." The city is now in the 11th consecutive year of removing more trees than it plants, according to Pereira.

As a solution, Pereira recommends the creation of an Urban Forestry Board tasked with "advancing better policies and practices to care for trees and coordinating city agencies that can impact the health of trees."

"It would also identify opportunities to supplement public with private funds by better coordinating efforts with nongovernment partners and volunteers that work with trees," writes Pereira.

Pereira also devotes substantial space to making the case for the benefits of trees in urban settings.

Friday, August 14, 2020 in Chicago Tribune

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