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Thanks to Commissioner of Public Property Jessica Voogd, Village Administrator Tim Gillian and Public Works Director John Doss, Forest Park is one step away from officially being designated a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. Part of the process involved an official village proclamation in support of Arbor Day, and this occurred at the Jan. 27 village council meeting, with all four commissioners and the mayor unanimously voting in favor.

Voogd said the last step involves an official Arbor Day celebration on April 24, marked by the planting of a tree, and she plans to get the community involved, including District 91. 

“I stumbled across the Tree City USA designation during my campaign [for commissioner], I read about it and wondered why we’re not a Tree City,” said Voogd, added that going after the official designation was an opportunity to get more people involved, and that having the designation can be a benefit when applying for grants and funding.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation’s website, “Tree City USA is a national recognition program that began in 1976 and is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and National Association of State Foresters.”

The Arbor Day Foundation lists four standards a village must meet in order to receive recognition: having a tree board or department, putting into place a tree care ordinance, a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita, and an Arbor Day proclamation and observance. The village council voted to adopt a tree care ordinance in October.

This is not the first time Voogd has pushed for environmental issues since she began her term last May. In addition to the tree care ordinance in October, she held a recycling forum in November 2019 and is planning a composting forum for residents. 

“I’m hoping to steer the town in that direction,” said Voogd about environmental progress. “There are a lot of people in town who are very passionate about the environment,” she added, noting that Gillian and Doss have been very helpful and supportive. 

“John [Doss] is a big lover of trees as well,” said Voogd. “He knows people in neighboring villages who have done similar things and is a great resource.”

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