Q & A Regarding Tree Removal in the Village of River Forest


A parkway tree on my block has a white "X" painted on it?  What does it mean?

Trees marked with a white "X" have been identified for removal because the Forestry Department has determined that it is dead, diseased, and/or hazardous. Once the tree has been removed, crews will remove the remaining stump and restore the disturbed parkway area with new soil and grass seed. 

Why is the Village cutting down trees?

The majority of trees currently being removed from the Village are damaged due to the Emerald Ash Borer Infestation.  

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire, is an invasive beetle native to Asia that was first discovered in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002. The adult beetles feed on ash foliage but cause little damage. The larvae (the immature stage) feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients. EAB probably arrived in the United States on solid wood crating material carried in cargo ships originating in its native Asia. EAB has been reported as established in Ohio (2003), Indiana (2004), Maryland (2006), Illinois (2006), Pennsylvania (2007), West Virginia (2007), Wisconsin (2008), Missouri (2008), Virginia (2008), Minnesota (2009), and New York (2009). Since its discovery, EAB has: 1) killed tens of thousands of ash trees in southeastern Michigan, with tens of millions more lost in the other states mentioned above. 2) Caused regulatory agencies and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enforce quarantines and fines to prevent potentially infested ash trees, logs or hardwood firewood from moving out of areas where EAB has been reported. 3) Cost municipalities, property owners, nursery operators and forest products industries tens of millions of dollars. The EAB infestation was discovered in a declining ash tree by River Forest Public Works on the 1200 block of Franklin Avenue on August 11, 2008. Based on that discovery we can assume that EAB arrived in River Forest 3-4 years before the tree showed signs of decline, or between 2004 and 2005.

River Forest Forestry staff became aware of EAB in 2002 while attending annual training seminars. At that time it was a relatively new problem affecting areas in and around Detroit. All public works employees were trained to identify signs and symptoms of EAB infestations in ash trees. 

How many trees are being removed?  

To date River Forest has removed 588 affected ash trees and another 213 are currently marked for removal.  We have injected 278 trees to protect areas where monocultures exist and we will remove and replace those trees slowly over time to reduce the aesthetic impact.  Approximately 40 remaining non-injected trees will be monitored this year and removed when they show signs of decline. 

Are the trees going to be replaced?  When?

If there is sufficient space, a replacement tree will be planted.  A Certified Arborist from our Forestry Department will determine which species of tree is best suited to each parkway.  Planting of the replacement tree/s will occur in May or June of 2016. Replacement trees are paid for by the Village, and we cannot accommodate requests for "upgrading" to a larger tree or sharing the cost to plant a larger tree. Generally, trees planted will be 2-2.5 inch diameter and approximately 8-10 feet tall.

While we make every effort to replace trees that are removed, conflicts such as location of the existing tree stump, underground utilities, and current or anticipated size of the surrounding trees prohibits planting in some areas.

Tree Population in River Forest

The Village of River Forest has approximately 8,000 parkway trees of which approximately 1,150 are ash trees (14% of our total parkway tree population). We have not inventoried private property ash trees but can only guess that the loss of those trees will have a significant negative impact on the urban forest. While the impact on the environment is obvious, we cannot asses the overall impact tree loss will have on areas like storm water runoff and local temperatures. Without proper management, the loss of shade, wildlife habitat and overall tree benefits to the Village could be devastating. The Village of River Forest is proud of its urban forest and takes its management quite seriously. A Tree City USA community since1998, River Forest strives to maintain a diverse parkway tree population. It is important that this EAB Management Plan be used as a guideline and that it remain flexible, taking economic times, new circumstances and the most current research into consideration. Research on EAB and how to manage this insect is in a constant state of change. By being diligent, yet open minded, about managing this insect we hope that this management plan helps to create a more diverse and healthy urban forest that provides the greatest benefit to all those that live in and visit our community.  

To learn more about the Village of River Forest's Forestry Program, please click here.