April 30, 2010

Mayor Daley Says Chicago Making Good Progress In Taking Care Of And Expanding City's Tree Canopy

Marks Arbor Day by Planting Tree at Hancock College Prep High School
Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

View The YouTube Video

Chicago is making good progress in the critical task of planting more trees, taking care of its existing 3.5 million trees and expanding the City’s tree canopy, Mayor Richard M. Daley said today.

“Chicago has more than 3.5 million trees that remove pollution from the air, reduce summer cooling costs and increase property values,” Daley said at an Arbor Day tree-planting ceremony at John Hancock College Prep High School, 4034 W. 56th St.

“Arbor Day gives us the perfect opportunity to re-commit ourselves to carrying out our mission of protecting human health and the environment, which in turn promotes the quality of economic development throughout our city and improves life for all our residents,” he said.

The Mayor pointed out that early in his administration, he made a commitment to enhance the environment and make Chicago the most environmentally friendly city in the nation.

Toward that goal, the City created the Chicago Climate Action Plan in which it outlined the need to plant more trees, maintain existing trees and expand the tree canopy.

Since 1989, more than 600,000 trees have been planted in Chicago, but every year thousands of trees are lost to severe weather, pests and disease.

In 2009, the City established the “Chicago Trees Initiative”, which is a public-private partnership that will help plant and care for more trees in every neighborhood in the city.

“In these difficult economic times, it’s more important than ever for government to work with the private and not-for-profit sectors to keep Chicago’s progress going, and we have been doing that,” Daley said.

He said that in the past year the City has: 

  • Secured grants from American Express and donations from GRO and Moore to plant trees along Western Boulevard.
  • Obtained a $25,000 challenge grant from the Chicago Community Trust that was matched by the Parkways Foundation for additional plantings in Chicago Parks. This challenge grant and funding match is being provided again this spring.
  • Worked, in the East Garfield Park community, with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban development and local non-profit partners to train and employ formerly incarcerated individuals to raise and plant trees. This program will also help produce affordable trees that can be sold at farmers markets in neighborhoods where many residents can’t afford the prices normally charged for nursery-raised trees.
  • Created a discount directory for trees and related services that are available to residents.
  • Completed an Urban Forest Effects Model and an Urban Tree Canopy analysis and modified the way trees are trimmed to reduce City fuel usage and crew travel times.
  • Undertaken a major tree-planting effort at and around both Midway and O’Hare airports.

Daley said the City continues to work closely with the Chicago Public Schools to develop tree-related curriculum for grades K though 12.

At Hancock High School, for example, students have an environmental club and an After School Matters Program with greening.

In addition, for the past several years Hancock has worked with Openlands and After School Matters to operate a program that involves more than 30 students focusing on landscape design and construction and through which they have built several gardens around the school’s perimeter.

“As we work to improve the size, health, diversity and stewardship of our urban forest, our program can serve as a model for other cities around the world,” Daley said.

“If we work and plan together, we can bring about the kinds of changes in our city that will make it cleaner, more beautiful and more environmentally-friendly – and those things benefit everyone,” he said.

# # #