OCT 26, 2021
On Sunday, another severe storm in a series of climate-fueled weather swept through the Chicago area, causing 96,000 households to lose power and widespread damage including downed trees.
As The Daily Line report of the October 5 Streets and Sanitation Budget hearing highlighted, “Aldermen repeatedly urged [now Commissioner] Stallard and Malcolm Whiteside, head of the forestry bureau, to prioritize the tree trimming and removal requests, citing concerns that damaged trees and dangling limbs and branches pose safety hazards.”
“…All it takes is a tree to fall on a child, or...or a branch to fall on an adult, or on a car, for a family to be devastated. One small thing can change a lifestyle. It can change a life,” Ald. Chris Taliaferro said in the hearing.
Alderman Taliaferro could have been referring to Erick Leon when he said that during the hearing.
In 2014, Chicago taxpayers spent $5.75 million to compensate Leon, a 37-year-old cyclist paralyzed after his spine was crushed by a 40-foot limb that fell from a parkway tree. Neighbors had been requesting trimming or removal for months prior, including after several large branches fell off and crashed through a car windshield.
Last Friday, the City Council Committee on Budget and Government Operations approved the budget recommendation of an additional 16 tree trimming crews to the Department of Streets and Sanitation’s Forestry Bureau, bringing next year’s total to 30 tree trimming crews.
The resolution (R2021-1130) Ald. Andre Vasquez, Ald. Matt Martin and Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez calling on the Mayor’s Administration to Fully Fund Ash Tree Inoculation, signed by forty-two aldermen, calls for an estimated $6 million be added to the budget to inoculate the 50,000 mature ash trees still lining the streets of Chicago.
As Sunday’s storm underscores, keeping ash trees alive for as long as possible would prevent more damage from dead trees.
Save Your Ash Coalition Chicago fully supports this good government approach to preventing further tragedies due to dying ash trees, while saving taxpayers $75 million. The current cost of removing and replacing each dead tree is $1,500.
Chicago Region Tree Initiative, Illinois Environmental Council, Openlands and The Climate Reality Project: Chicago Metro Chapter are supporters of the resolution.
The cost of inoculating an average size, healthy ash tree in Chicago is one-tenth of the cost of removing it.
We depend upon our City Council members to be stewards of our environment and our taxpayer dollars.
Save Your Ash Coalition Chicago asks City Council to add funding for ash tree inoculation to the 2022 Chicago Budget, in addition to more tree trimming crews.
John Friedmann is co-chair of Save Your Ash Coalition Chicago, president of the North River Commission and vice president of the Horner Park Advisory Council.
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