11,800 trees will be planted citywide this year



Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently announced a new initiative with the Chicago Park District and the Department of Streets & Sanitation to plant 11,800 new trees citywide.

By Metro Reporter

Chicago will soon be seeing an array of green foliage coming to neighborhoods citywide. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on April 24 that the city will plant 11,800 new trees across the city.

Cathy Breitenbach, director of cultural and natural resources at the district is focused on planting trees this year, predominantly in parks where trees have been re- moved due to an infestation of the emerald ash borer—a green beetle native to Asia and Eastern Russia that bores many holes into bark and kills trees. Breitenbach said much of the planting is done through the Park District Board’s tree planting contract and the maintenance is handled by the district’s Forestry Department.

The trees will provide a variety of benefits to the city’s environment, Breitenbach said.

“Besides just the beauty they bring to our parks, they provide shade, they help the outtake of carbon, they help clean the air and they just make the parks a nice place to visit and relax,” Breitenbach said.

Molly Poppe, director of public affairs for the Department of Streets & Sanitation, said the department is looking to plant more than 4,200 trees primarily along neighborhood streets on the parkway.

Poppe said Emanuel plays an important role in these trees being planted across the city.

“The mayor has made a consistent investment in the urban canopy in Chicago since he has been in office,” Poppe said. “[He has had] a multi-faceted approach to make sure that Chicago’s urban forest does stay vibrant and continues to grow and expand.”

However, planting trees can also be a challenge for the city. Poppe said that any time the Department of Streets & Sanitation is planting trees on the parkway, it must be coordinated with utility companies to ensure that the trees are not being planted on piping or utility lines. The department must also have residential approval to plant the trees.

“Residents can submit requests for trees through the 311 system,” Poppe said. “We will go out and tag trees. We have a private contractor that then receives the planting locations and plants the trees.”

Mike Claffey, spokesperson for the Chicago Department of Transportation, said CDOT is one of the agencies involved in planting trees. Claffey said it is an important part of beautifying Chicago’s neighborhoods and helps improve the city’s overall environment.

Claffey said there will be many different types of trees that will be planted around the city.

“We look to plant a variety of different trees that are native to the Chicago area so that they can survive the extreme weather and temperature swings and the amount of rainfall that we have here in the city,” Claffey said. “We need to see if they are a good fit and if they are going to survive and thrive in Chicago’s urban environment.”

Claffey said Chicago has an estimated 3.5 million trees on both public and private properties. He said trees remove approximately 25,000 tons of carbon per year and about 900 tons of air pollution annually.

“We are committed to supporting the mayor’s efforts to make Chicago a more beautiful environment,” Claffey said.