For Immediate Release:
CONTACT: Emily Reusswig, 312-863-6260, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Board Will Help Care For And Seek To Increase The City’s Tree Canopy In the Face of Climate Change.
(Chicago – June 26, 2021) – After almost a year since it was first proposed, the Urban Forestry Advisory Board (UFAB) Ordinance passed unanimously through City Council on Friday, June 25. Originally proposed by Alderperson Scott Waguespack, along with Alderpersons Samantha Nugent and George A. Cardenas, the UFAB stopped initially in the Rules Committee before moving to the Finance Committee, and finally City Council, where 27 Alderpersons co-sponsored the bill before the ordinance’s unanimous passage 49-0.
Alderperson Scott Waguespack led the development of the ordinance, “I’m proud to work with Openlands and our governmental agencies to create the UFAB. Passage of our ordinance ushers in a new level of cooperation to save and build our tree canopy and tackle the climate change problem. I thank Openlands for their long-term advocacy for UFAB and the joint efforts to provide a healthy environment for us and future generations.”
The Board will report to the Mayor and be made up of agency heads that work with trees, certified arborists, community leaders, and elected officials. Together, they will identify opportunities to supplement public funds with private donations, increase public education to Chicago residents, and recommend needed changes to City laws. “Having a board dedicated to strategically caring for Chicago’s tree canopy makes us better able to protect our region from the worst effects of climate change and improve the health and well-being of communities throughout Chicago” stated Jerry Adelmann, President and CEO of Openlands. “We’re grateful to the Alderpersons and Mayor, as well as all the TreeKeepers and advocates who championed the UFAB ordinance to successful passage.”
The Board will seek to turn the tide on the decreasing tree canopy in Chicago. Since 2010, a net average of 10,000 street trees have been removed every year, an amount equivalent to cutting down all the trees on Western Ave from Howard Street in Rogers Park south for 20 miles to 95th Street in Beverly and coming back up Kedzie 20 miles. The 2020 Tree Census published by the Morton Arboretum underlined that point in May when they reported that Chicago’s canopy decreased by an alarming 3% over the past 10 years to just 16% – one of the lowest tree canopies of any major US City.
“The City of Chicago has long needed a pragmatic plan on how to preserve and enhance our urban forest. The Urban Forestry Advisory Board lays the foundation for this plan, which will ultimately promote a greener, healthier, safer ‘City in a Garden’ that will benefit all Chicagoans,” stated Alderperson Nugent
With urgent challenges like severe storms, air pollution, flooding, and excessive heat, a robust urban forest can create one of the strongest strategies to curb the effects of climate change, as trees are the most accessible way, we can create connections to nature and the outdoors.
Alderperson Cardenas shared after the vote, “I am thrilled for Chicago’s tree canopy to receive the specialized attention it deserves through an Urban Forestry Advisory Board. It is heartening that all my colleagues see the benefit of establishing a body to create comprehensive policies to mitigate climate change and improve the health, property value, and overall quality of life for residents in communities like mine and across Chicago. I look forward to moving the important work this board will accomplish.”
“Chicago joins cities like Milwaukee, Portland, Minneapolis, Atlanta, and many others that have established successful tree boards,” said Daniella Pereira, VP of Community Conservation at Openlands and a certified arborist. “The State of Illinois receives funding through National Urban and Community Forestry grants with a primary goal of establishing tree boards. Having the Urban Forestry Advisory Board will increase funding for Illinois and increase opportunities for funding for Chicago. This is a big win for Chicago’s trees.”
Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 70,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit www.openlands.org.