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

Chicago Commute

Planning for Congestion Relief

The third and final installment of Planetizen's examination of the role of the planning profession in both perpetuating and solving traffic congestion.

May 12, 2022 - James Brasuell

Twin Cities

Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think

Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.

May 13, 2022 - Reason

LAX Cars

Car Noise Is Killing Us

It’s not just traffic collisions that kill—a new study from researcher at Rutgers finds that the loud noises emanating from cars has direct impact on heart health in Americans.

May 6, 2022 - Streetsblog USA

Rittenhouse Square, a park in Philadelphia, framed by large buildings.

Parks as a Weapon Against Climate Change

The 2022 ParkScore finds that cities are increasingly employing green space as a tool for mitigating heat and extreme weather effects, but the distribution of parks remains inequitable.

May 16 - Trust for Public Land

View of Louisiana state capitol building and downton Baton Rouge, LA

Louisiana Capital Shifting to Electric Transit

The Baton Rouge area is now served by a fleet of nine all-electric buses.

May 16 - American Journal of Transportation

Mount Rainier

New Community Engagement Practices for Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan Update

A major update of Seattle’s comprehensive plan is just getting under way, with new opportunities for local groups to get involved with outreach and engagement.

May 16 - Capitol Hill Seattle Blog

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.