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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OPENLANDS RELEASES STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF MAYOR EMANUEL’S TREE PLANTING PROPOSAL

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

OPENLANDS RELEASES STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF MAYOR EMANUEL’S TREE PLANTING PROPOSAL

(Chicago – February 21, 2017) Statement by Openlands President and CEO Jerry Adelmann:

Openlands applauds Mayor Emanuel’s proposal to use unclaimed property tax rebates for tree plantings in Chicago. We wholeheartedly support efforts to reduce crime and enhance community wellbeing on Chicago’s south and west sides. Our urban forestry work has supported those goals for over 25 years. Tree plantings not only increase community greening, which has been repeatedly demonstrated to reduce crime and aid community development, but also can be strong drivers of job creation.

Mayor Emanuel’s tree planting allocation of $500,000 is a small part of the proposed $15 million property tax rebate. The Bureau of Forestry’s budget for tree plantings has been repeatedly cut, and under this plan, plantings of 20 trees will take place in all 50 wards, providing substantial public benefit:

  • Trees in Chicago capture harmful pollutants such as volatile organic compounds and improve air quality;
  • Children play outside 10% more in tree-lined neighborhoods, and have lower rates of ADHD and asthma;
  • Trees provide a mentally restorative effect that decreases the incidence of violent crime by measurably improving mental health;
  • They retain storm water to reduce urban flooding across the city;
  • And trees mitigate the effects of climate change, which affects low-income and communities of color most.

This is a small, but vital investment in community development and public health that will yield significant results for all Chicago’s residents.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OPENLANDS TREEKEEPERS COURSE REGISTRATION OPENS

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

OPENLANDS TREEKEEPERS COURSE REGISTRATION OPENS

(Chicago – February 13, 2017) Openlands announces that registration is open for the spring 2017 TreeKeepers certification course. Since 1991, Openlands has trained 1,800 volunteer TreeKeepers to care for Chicago’s urban forest, identifying potential tree-related problems and leading neighbors in tree planting and tree care.

Spring 2017 classes are held on Saturdays and Wednesdays from March 18 through April 12. Wednesday classes run from 6:30-8:30pm, and Saturday classes run from 10am-2:30pm at McKinley Park, 2210 W. Pershing Rd., Chicago. Interested applicants may visit www. openlands.org/treekeepers to apply. The application period closes on March 17.

The course costs $128. Tuition includes a TreeKeepers Program Manual, safety glasses, and upon graduation, a TreeKeepers certificate, TreeKeepers badge, and a TreeKeepers t-shirt. This year Openlands will provide five scholarships to local residents and current Chicago Park District employees.

All certified TreeKeepers go through the TreeKeepers program. Certification includes an eight-day course with classroom and field components; passing a written exam, completing practical exams on tree planting, mulching, and pruning; pledging 25 volunteer hours within the year following graduation; and adopting public trees in a park or on a parkway. Two undergraduate or graduate credit hours are available through the College of Education at Aurora University for an additional fee.

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 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit http://www.openlands.org.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OPENLANDS HELPS CITY OF WILMINGTON ACQUIRE NEW PARKLAND ALONG THE KANKAKEE RIVER

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

OPENLANDS HELPS CITY OF WILMINGTON ACQUIRE NEW PARKLAND ALONG THE KANKAKEE RIVER

***Local Public/Private Partnership Is In Service of the Public Good***

(Chicago – February 8, 2017) On Tuesday, Wilmington City Council voted to finalize the acquisition of land on the South Island in the Kankakee River.  South Island is connected to downtown Wilmington by the historic Route 66, and the City has developed a vision for the South Island that increases open space and public use options.  The vision recognizes the South Island as a natural attraction that will draw tourists, support local businesses, and leverage Wilmington’s uniqueness in the region.  To support this vision, Openlands assembled the land from three separate landowners in 2011, and has held the property as interim owner since that time.  Owning the land now gives Wilmington flexibility and control in shaping the future of the site, and plans include developing a marquis gateway. Through working with Openlands, an accredited Land Trust, Wilmington was able to access grant funding from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to support the project.

“The effort to build onto and utilize a natural attraction like the Kankakee River, which was designated as a National Water Trail last year, will draw tourists, support local businesses, and leverage Wilmington’s uniqueness in the region,” said Mayor Marty Orr.

“Openlands is pleased to partner with Wilmington on this opportunity to advance open space and economic development goals,” said Openlands Vice President of Conservation Emy Brawley. “The City’s plan to increase open space and public use options on the island is good planning at its best.”

About Openlands

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 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit http://www.openlands.org.

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For Immediate Release: Openlands 2016 Annual Luncheon Raises Record-Breaking $360,000; Celebrates Connecting People to Nature

November 11, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Patrick Williams, 312-863-6277, pwilliams@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

OPENLANDS 2016 ANNUAL LUNCHEON RAISES RECORD-BREAKING $360,000; CELEBRATES CONNECTING PEOPLE TO NATURE

***Emerald Sponsors were The Negaunee Foundation and Stantec Consulting Services, Incorporated***

*** 2016 Conservation Leadership Award Honored Sophia Shaw, Former President and CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden***

The Openlands 2016 Annual Luncheon focused on welcoming more people to experience the Chicago region’s natural areas. The event raised more than $360,000—a record—for the regional conservation organization. More than 800 guests enjoyed the Keynote by Audrey Peterman about encouraging diverse communities to experience America’s public lands. The Honorable Senator Dick Durbin congratulated Openlands on major regional accomplishments such as Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge and Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Sophia Shaw, recently retired President and CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden, received the 2016 Conservation Leadership Award.

“If you succeed in saving a parcel of pristine open space for future generations, you’ve left a great legacy indeed,” said Durbin in his remarks. In her acceptance speech, Shaw referenced the classic Woody Guthrie lyric, “This land is your land, this land is my land…This land was made for you and me,” as embodying Openlands’ mission. She finished by emphasizing the importance of protecting and sharing the world’s natural spaces with everyone. “We need people of all ethnicities to solve climate change and adaptation issues,” said Peterman, recognized nationally as a leader in the movement to diversify the visitors to America’s public lands.

The event was held October 13 at the Hilton Chicago. Emerald Sponsors were The Negaunee Foundation and Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. Platinum Sponsors were Allstate, ArcelorMittal, Connie and Tony Bischof, Shaun and Andy Block, Bobolink Foundation, ComEd, ITW, Jeanine and Andrew McNally IV, and Northern Trust. Gold Sponsors were Bartlett Tree Experts; BMO Harris Bank; The Boeing Company; Christy Webber Landscapes; Art Collins; Deborah Lahey; Liberty Prairie Foundation; Living Habitats; J. Timothy Ritchie; University of Chicago, Office of Civic Engagement; U.S. Bank; Ventas;and West Monroe Partners. The Luncheon Committee Co-Chairs were Dominic Kempson Senior Principal, Sector Leader, Environmental Services, US Federal for Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. and Jeanine McNally, former member of the Openlands Board of Directors.

Honoree Sophia Shaw retired as President and CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden earlier this year. During her tenure, she generated an almost 50 percent increase in attendance, emphasizing conservation and education programs for a broad audience, including diverse and underserved communities. Keynote Speaker Audrey Peterman is a nationally recognized leader in the movement to make America’s public lands relevant to every demographic group. With her husband, she co-founded Earthwise Productions, Inc., an environmental consulting and publishing firm focused on connecting the public lands system and the American public.

About Openlands

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 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, please visit http://www.openlands.org.

About the Openlands Board of Directors

The Openlands Board of Directors comprises Jill Allread; Paul J. Anderson; J. Tyler Anthony; Gary F. Balling; Paul L. Becker; Alan M. Bell; Shaun C. Block (Honorary Director); Richard J. Carlson (Chair); Bill Clarkin; George W. Davis; Anthony T. Dean (Honorary Director); Garrett Handley Dee; Derek R.B. Douglas; Josephine F. Elting; Joseph Fedacsek; Marshall Field, V, (Honorary Director); Dean Fischer; Hugh D. Frisbie; Jonathan C. Hamill; Mark M. Harris; Scott Jamieson; Leslie Jones; Iris Krieg; Carrie C. McNally (Secretary); Molly Meyer; Andrew Otting; Wendy J. Paulson; Steven M. Ricchio (Treasurer);  J. Timothy Ritchie; Jeffrey R. Rode; Charles Saltzman; Jo Ann M. Seagren; and Patrick Shaw.

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For Immediate Release: Largest Gathering of Illinois’ Environmental Community Focuses On Expanding The Diversity Of People Who Experience Nature

September 20, 2016

CONTACT:  Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Tasha Lawson, 312-863-6277, tlawson@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

LARGEST GATHERING OF ILLINOIS’ ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNITY FOCUSES ON EXPANDING THE DIVERSITY OF PEOPLE WHO EXPERIENCE NATURE

*** Sophia Shaw is the Conservation Leadership Award Recipient; Audrey Peterman is the Keynote Speaker***

***Dominic Kempson and Jeanine McNally are Committee Co-Chairs; The Negaunee Foundation and Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. are the Emerald Sponsors***

Protected landscapes, gardens, parks, and open waterfronts that improve mental and physical health should be accessible and inviting for everyone in Chicago’s diverse metropolis. The Openlands 2016 Annual Luncheon focuses on how we can welcome more people to experience the Chicago region’s natural areas. At the luncheon, Openlands will present former President and CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden, Sophia Shaw, with the Conservation Leadership Award in honor of her achievements cultivating the Garden as an international leader in horticulture and public engagement.

The Openlands Annual Luncheon is consistently the largest gathering of conservation-minded organizations, volunteers, and elected officials in the state of Illinois with over 900 attendees expected. It will take place at the Hilton Chicago on October 13 from 10:30am until 1:30pm. A networking reception begins at 10:30am and the lunch and program begin at noon.

Honoree Sophia Shaw retired as President and CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden earlier this year. During her tenure, she generated an almost 50 percent increase in attendance, emphasizing conservation and education programs for a broad audience, including diverse and underserved communities. “One of the beliefs of the Chicago Botanic Garden is that people live better, healthier lives when they can create, care for, and enjoy gardens and places where nature can thrive, a sentiment shared by Openlands,” said Shaw. “When environmental organizations make it a goal to expand audiences—become relevant to all people—we make a crucial investment in the present and future health of the world.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Sophia’s leadership,” states Openlands President and CEO, Jerry Adelmann. “As Openlands continues to connect underserved and more diverse communities to the vital benefits of nature, the Chicago Botanic Garden is one of the gems of the region for people to visit and feel welcome.”

Keynote Speaker Audrey Peterman is a nationally recognized leader in the movement to make America’s public lands relevant to every demographic group. With her husband, she co-founded Earthwise Productions, Inc., an environmental consulting and publishing firm focused on connecting the public lands system and the American public. On touring the national parks, Peterman says, “Traveling through the park system, I get a bigger picture of what America really is. It is so much more inclusive of all the races. Everybody has contributed to the greatness of this country.”

Co-chair Dominic Kempson is Senior Principal, Sector Leader, Environmental Services, US Federal for Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. He has over 25 years of experience consulting in the management of water resources and natural resources impact analyses. Co-chair Jeanine McNally is a former member of the Openlands Board of Directors and a long advocate of metropolitan Chicago’s natural areas.

For tickets or more information on attending the event, please visit: http://www.openlands.org/openlands-2016-annual-luncheon or contact Jennifer Van Valkenburg at JVanValkenburg@openlands.org or call 312-863-6261.

Media inquiries or members of the press wishing to attend the Openlands 2016 Annual Luncheon should contact Brandon Hayes at bhayes@openlands.org or 312-863-6260.

Sponsors as of September 20, 2016

The Openlands 2016 Annual Luncheon Emerald Sponsors are The Negaunee Foundation and Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. Platinum Sponsors are Allstate, ArcelorMittal, Shaun and Andy Block, ComEd, Connie and Tony Bischof, ITW, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew McNally IV, and Northern Trust.

Gold Sponsors are Bartlett Tree Experts, BMO Harris Bank, The Boeing Company, Christy Webber Landscapes, Art Collins, Deborah Lahey, Living Habitats, J. Timothy Ritchie, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, University of Chicago, Office of Civic Engagement, U.S. Bank, Ventas and West Monroe Partners.

About Openlands

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 55,000 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.

About the Openlands Board

The Openlands Board of Directors comprises Jill Allread, Paul J. Anderson, J. Tyler Anthony, Gary F. Balling, Paul L. Becker, Alan M. Bell, Shaun C. Block (Honorary Director), Richard J. Carlson (Chair), Bill Clarkin, George W. Davis, Anthony T. Dean (Honorary Director) Garrett Handley Dee, Derek R.B. Douglas, Josephine F. Elting, Marshall Field, V, (Honorary Director), Dean Fischer, Hugh D. Frisbie, Jonathan C. Hamill, Mark M. Harris, Scott Jamieson, Iris Krieg, Carrie C. McNally (Secretary), Molly Meyer, Andrew Otting, Wendy J. Paulson, Steven M. Ricchio (Treasurer),  J. Timothy Ritchie, Jeffrey R. Rode, Charles Saltzman, Jo Ann M. Seagren, and Patrick Shaw.

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For Immediate Release: Openlands Learns Hundreds Of Live Trees Removed By City Of Chicago

April 26, 2016

CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260/312-479-0819, bhayes@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

OPENLANDS LEARNS THAT THE CITY OF CHICAGO HAS REMOVED HUNDREDS OF LIVE AND HEALTHY TREES IN 13TH AND 23RD WARDS

***City’s Current Backlog of Requests to Remove Dead, Standing Trees Tops 3,000***

***Live Tree Removals Occurred on Saturdays During Overtime Hours***

Through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, Openlands has learned that the City of Chicago Bureau of Forestry removed at least 141 live and healthy treesmost averaging between 50 and 100 years oldbetween mid-2014 and February 2016 in the 13th and 23rd Wards, represented by Alderman Marty Quinn and Alderman Michael R. Zalewski, respectively. This minimum number does not include all of the live and healthy trees removed, based on discrepancies between the information uncovered in the FOIA requests and visual inspection of the removal sites. Openlands staff has determined that at least 300 live and healthy trees were removed. Most of the removals occurred on Saturdays during overtime hours while the City of Chicago has a backlog of 3,471 requests to remove thousands of dead, standing trees. The removals run counter to commitments to healthy trees in the City made by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration and found on the Bureau of Forestry website and in the City’s Tree Protection Guidelines.

Citizen volunteers in the Openlands TreeKeepers program and other City of Chicago residents first alerted Openlands staff about the tree removals. Openlands approached the Department of Streets and Sanitation and the Office of the Mayor in September 2015, which led to a meeting between Openlands staff, Alderman Quinn, and the Office of the Mayor in February. At the meeting, the Mayor’s office agreed to restrain live and healthy tree removal to 20 trees per Ward/per year while the office considered Openlands’ request for an executive order that establishes a public/private Tree Commission, disallows removals of any live and healthy trees, and places fees collected as compensation for removing trees into a tree planting fund. On April 19, the Mayor’s office indicated a desire to continue removing live and healthy trees.

A timeline of when and how Openlands learned about the tree removals follows at the end of this release.

The benefits of public trees are stated on the City’s website:

  • Improved Air Quality
  • Reduction of Emissions
  • Reduction of Smog
  • Reduction of Green House Gasses
  • Reduction of the “Urban Heat Island” Effect
  • Noise Abatement
  • Increased Psychological Well Being
  • Improved Aesthetics
  • Increased Property Values
  • Provision for Wildlife Habitat
  • Storm Water Attenuation

(http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/streets/provdrs/forestry/svcs/tree_planting.html)

“The City is spending valuable resources killing healthy trees,” said Openlands President and CEO Jerry Adelmann. “The trees in Chicago’s parks and on the parkways along Chicago streets belong to all of the citizens of Chicago. Collectively, these trees comprise our urban forest. Just as citizens would not request a tree to be cut down in a public park, so too should the trees on our public streets be protected.”

“Chicago has a canopy cover of less than 20%, which trails most other cities in the country,” said Openlands Regional Forester Daniella Pereira. “Neighborhoods in the 13th Ward have canopy cover of less than 10%. They have the most impervious surfaces and highest median temperatures in the summer. Consequently, these neighborhoods have been identified as urban heat island ‘hot spots’ and sorely need the benefits that mature trees provide.”

“As we face the loss of 13 million ash trees to the emerald ash borer in the Chicago region, we cannot afford to remove healthy trees when we can avoid it, because they deliver so many benefits to the community,” added Gerry Donnelly, President and CEO of The Morton Arboretum.

Openlands and Chicago’s Trees

Since 1991, volunteer TreeKeepers—trained and supported by Openlands—have provided tree care and advocacy for trees in the Chicago region. TreeKeepers provide “eyes and ears on the ground” year round in neighborhoods all over Chicago to identify potential tree-related problems and to lead neighbors in tree planting and tree care.

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 55,000 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.

Timeline

July-August, 2014: Openlands TreeKeepers and other residents of the 13th and 23rd Wards contact Openlands staff with questions about City crews and “Madigan-Quinn chop trucks” removing live, healthy trees from their neighborhoods on weekends.

September 25, 2014: Openlands submits Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to Bureau of Forestry (BOF) for 1) “311” tree and stump removal requests, 2) Aldermanic Menu (discretionary funds allotted to Aldermen) requests for tree removals and 3) all work crew sheets for weekend tree removals. BOF provides 311 records, but no Aldermanic Menu or work crew records on October 2. Aldermanic Menu requests may not include live tree removals.

October 16, 2014: Openlands submits revised FOIA request to BOF with more specific language. On November 25, 2014, BOF provides crew sheets and invoices for all weekend work—including both emergency removals and Alderman-requested removals. These records show that between August 1 and October 18, 2014, BOF crews removed 91 live trees from within the 13th and 23rd Wards at an expense of $38,074.96. Openlands uncovers no evidence of a “Madigan-Quinn chop truck.” Records indicate no future live tree removals. BOF provides no answers about the source of tree removal expenses.

June 20, 2015:  Openlands staff and TreeKeepers observe and document at least 32 more live tree removals in the 13th and 23rd Wards. Openlands staff conducts additional analyses of 311 data on stump/removal requests and investigates source of “Special Saturday Tree Removal” funds. No connections are established outside the Department of Streets and Sanitation.

September 30, 2015:  Openlands writes a letter to Department of Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Williams expressing concern about tree removal activities in 13th and 23rd Wards. Commissioner Williams’ October 17 response does not address Openlands’ concerns.

January 30 – February 11, 2016:  TreeKeepers and Openlands staff document that 50 more live trees are removed from the 13th Ward. Openlands submits another FOIA request that confirms these numbers.

February 12, 2016: Jerry Adelmann and Daniella Pereira from Openlands meet with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Chief of Staff, Eileen Mitchell; Chief of Policy and Strategic Planning, David Spielfogel; Chief Sustainability Officer, Chris Wheat; Alderman Quinn, and Director of Regional Programs, Joe Deal. The Mayor’s office agrees to hold off on cutting more trees in the 13th ward until they are able to respond to Openlands’ request for an executive order that 1) establishes a public/private Tree Commission, 2) disallows removals of any live and healthy trees, and 3) places fees collected as compensation for removing trees into a tree planting fund.

April 19, 2016: The Mayor’s office has not acted on any requests made by Openlands. The office expresses a willingness to continue removing live trees in the 13th Ward and offers to replace mature trees with saplings.

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For Immediate Release: Openlands Announces #DiscoverYourPlace

April 6, 2016

CONTACT:

Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Tasha Lawson, 312-863-6277, tlawson@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

OPENLANDS ANNOUNCES #DISCOVERYOURPLACE

***Initiative Connects Metropolitan Chicago Residents To Their Unique Natural Landscapes***

Openlands announces the #DiscoverYourPlace initiative to raise awareness in the metropolitan Chicago community of the special outdoor and natural areas in their own backyard. The social media hashtag campaign on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter will highlight the rare natural landscapes Openlands helps to create, protect, and restore, while encouraging users to share photos of their favorite outdoor and natural places for the general public to discover.

Openlands has worked to install gardens in the city for residents to benefit from and is currently working on building Chicago’s first national wildlife refuge, Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge, along the border of Illinois and Wisconsin. Only one-tenth of one percent of prairie remains in Illinois, typically called the ‘prairie state.’ Chicago area landscapes like Oak savannas, wetlands, ravines, bluffs, and more are often unknown to the general public. #DiscoverYourPlace seeks to help more people experience these endangered landscapes and reap the recreational benefits they provide.

“If you were to walk up to someone downtown and ask them if they’ve heard of Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, a vast 19,000 acre prairie where a herd of bison now roam, chances are they would not know about it, but they would be interested,” said Openlands Director of Communications, Brandon Hayes. “It is vital that we expand the audience of those who know about these places around Chicago so people care about the future health of our region.”

“Natural places like gardens, parks, and restored natural habitat around Chicago provide healthy drinking water and clean air to breathe while often providing much needed respite and retreat for city dwellers,” said Openlands President and CEO Jerry Adelmann. “Rare and majestic regional treasures like the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve north of Chicago harbor some of the last remaining ravines and bluffs in our area. We want people to experience these places and care about their future.”

Support for Openlands’ efforts to connect Chicagoans to unique natural places is provided by the Chicago Community Trust.

About Openlands

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 55,000 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.

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For Immediate Release: Openlands Announces TreeKeepers Course for Spring 2016

March 2, 2016

CONTACT:
Brandon Hayes, 312-863-6260, bhayes@openlands.org
Tasha Lawson, 312-863-6277, tlawson@openlands.org
(Media inquiries only)

OPENLANDS ANNOUNCES TREEKEEPERS COURSE FOR SPRING 2016

***Trainees Take Care of Trees on City Property Throughout Chicago***

(Chicago – March 2, 2016) Openlands announces the spring 2016 course schedule for TreeKeepers volunteer certification. 2016 marks the 25th Anniversary of the TreeKeepers program, which continues to cultivate the city’s urban forest via pruning and monitoring existing trees, as well as planting new trees. These certified volunteers help to ensure that Chicago’s trees flourish both through direct care and also by promoting awareness among residents and local officials about the importance of a thriving urban forest.

Volunteers interested in becoming certified TreeKeepers can do so by attending eight classes in the spring or fall of each year. Spring 2016 classes will be held on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings March 19 through April 12 in Chicago at West Pullman Park, 401 W. 123rd St. The course costs $128. Those seeking more information or wishing to register should visit the Openlands website.

The TreeKeepers course educates volunteers in a wide array of topics including tree biology and identification, soil maintenance, pruning techniques, planting and mulching, and advocacy. Successful graduates of the program pass written and practical exams and go on to assist with tree planting and maintenance across the region, pledging to complete a minimum of 25 service hours within one year following certification.

“Volunteer TreeKeepers fill a specific civic duty to protect and care for trees that are a benefit for all community members,” said Openlands Regional Forester Daniella Pereira. “New TreeKeepers are the eyes and ears on the ground for Chicago’s trees, joining a first line of defense nearly 2,000 people strong who are actively caring for and protecting the urban forest—ensuring an improved quality of life for trees and all of Chicago’s residents.”

Events celebrating TreeKeepers 25th Anniversary will be announced in the coming weeks.

About Openlands

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 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, visit www.openlands.org.

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