Forest Park’s commitment to the environment was put into writing as the village amended its code to add a tree care and management policy to the Public Ways and Property section.

The new wording states that through the Public Works Department, the village “will develop, maintain and implement … a tree care and management policy for village-owned trees that reflects the village’s best tree management and care practices.”

This new addition to code was championed by Commissioner of Public Property Jessica Voogd, whose commitment to the environment and promoting green measures in the village is becoming evident.

“I appreciate that this ordinance recognizes the importance of trees,” said Voogd in the Forest Park Village Council meeting, Oct. 28.

“Trees provide oxygen, intercept airborne particles, reduce smog, enhance the community’s respiratory health, act as natural air conditioning by providing shade and cooling, provide natural assistance with storm water management and erosion control,” said Voogd. “Trees planted near buildings have shown reduction of energy consumption of those buildings by up to 25 percent.”

Voogd also mentioned that access to green spaces promotes exercise and provides stress reduction. Trees, she said, also boost property values, “absorb and block sound and can provide visual barriers and privacy.” And they “offer a tapestry of colors, especially this time of year.”

She was pleased the ordinance passed. “This demonstrates our commitment to maintaining a healthier environment for our community,” she said. “Official recognition is an important step toward protecting our urban forests.”

Ryan Nero, commissioner of Streets and Public Improvements, agreed with Voogd that trees are important to Forest Park.

“Tree planting is critical to maintain the beauty of the village,” said Nero, who mentioned budgetary constraints in 2018 that stood in the way of adding as many trees as he would have liked.

“In 2018 we removed 50 trees and planted 24, but we are back on track this year, during which we removed 65 trees and planted 56. All the trees removed were either dead, damaged, posed a hazard or were falling down. There is a program in place and we do care about our environment,” said Nero.

Voogd’s eco-commitment is also evident in an upcoming meeting she’s holding to talk to residents about recycling in Forest Park. The meeting will be held on Nov. 17 at 3 p.m. in the Forest Park Community Center, 7640 Jackson Blvd.