Village workers plant a tree near the sidewalk on Friday, April 30, 2021, during a tree planting for Arbor Day outside of Field Stevenson Elementary School in Forest Park, Ill. | ALEX ROGALS/Staff Photographer

Morton Arboretum has recognized the village of Forest Park for its effort to better manage the many trees in public rights of way with an ArbNet program Level 1 tree accreditation. 

In the joint press release issued by the village and the accreditation program, the recognition signifies that Forest Park achieved “particular standards of professional practices deemed important” for public green spaces. This comes a year after the village used a $9,375 Morton Arboretum grant to inventory all of the trees on public property and develop a plan for how best to take care of them. Village Administrator Moses Amidei told the Review that the accreditation would make the village more “methodical and intentional” about handling the trees, and it could help with some tree-related grants in the future. 

The village council approved the village’s Urban Forestry Management plan on June 27, 2022. As the Review reported at the time, the tree inventory found that, while Forest Park is home to 72 species of trees, 50% of all trees fall within the Maple genus, which means that a disease that affects maples could wipe out half of Forest Park trees. The plan put several maple species on the list of trees not allowed to be planted, though other maple species were still allowed. To create a more diverse treescape, it recommended planting trees that are currently rare in the village and also well-suited for Forest Park’s climate.  

The policy changed standards for replacing any trees that get cut down and banned the practice of “tree topping” — removing the top portion of a tree. The Forest Park Recreation Board became responsible for providing “assistance, direction, and advice to the village regarding the preservation, planting, management, and protection of trees” on top of its existing responsibilities for managing village-owned pocket parks and coordinating community volunteer efforts.

Amidei said that getting the accreditation supports Forest Park’s “priority and commitment concerning the recognition of our tree resources as an important aspect of our public infrastructure.

“We are going to be a lot more methodical and intentional in our planning, planting, etc., based upon the results of our inventory and management plan,” he added.

Would it help the village to get grants?

“Yes, we will include this accreditation, along with our Tree City USA designation, in future grant applications with respect to seeking funding to plant trees as well as trees that need removal — dead or diseased [e.g. emerald ash borer-stricken] trees, etc.,” Amidei replied.

Accreditation was announced on July 10. During the July 24 village council meeting, Commissioner of Public Property Jessica Voogd, who advocated for the tree inventory and the forestry management plan in the past, said it was good for the village. 

“The designation honors our goals within the community, but also provides opportunities for collaboration,” she said. “It’s a great thing that we want to acknowledge.”