The Flossmoor Green Commission has set a goal of planting 300 new trees in the village, primarily along the route of the Hidden Gem Half-Marathon.
For now, volunteers can join the commission’s tree-planting effort on Saturday, Oct. 23, when 50 trees will be planted by the village.
Tristan Shaw, a member of the Green Commission, said the 300-tree effort will take time, but he’s optimistic. The commission received a grant for trees from the Chicago Region Tree Initiative, a partnership for coordinated action on dealing with issues facing trees. CRTI is the largest initiative of its kind in the country and works primarily in the seven-county region of northern Illinois. Its website lists an Urban Tree Canopy Analysis study that reports Flossmoor has 43% and Homewood has 39% canopy coverage.
CRTI set a goal of planting 100 trees in the South Cook area and Flossmoor got a grant for 27 of those trees. Green Commission volunteers planted the trees in the parkways on Oct. 2.
Shaw said residents were receptive to having new trees planted at their homes. They were asked to water and nurture the trees – oaks, hickory, catalpa, Kentucky coffee and pecan varieties that are all indigenous to the area.
“We knocked on doors, we called people. We had flyers. It’s always better if the resident wants the tree,” he said.
His wife, Karen, ran in the first Hidden Gem Half-Marathon in 2019 and noticed quite a few empty spots along the route. After the race, the couple went back along the route and recorded locations where trees could be planted. Shaw gave a report to the Green Commission and members agreed to follow up on his suggestion for 300 new trees in the parkways. Shaw said that number doesn’t include areas around school buildings.
Trees are expensive and 300 is a large number. Shaw has been working to get additional grant funding to help with the cost.
Flossmoor’s lost trees through disease, such as the emerald ash borer that destroyed many trees in the area. Others, such as the silver maple, were planted when subdivisions were built and now, 50-plus years later, are nearing the end of their life span, Shaw said.
“For a street tree that’s a good run, but they’re slowly dying off. Locust is another one. The storm events of the last couple of years, they’ve really hit our canopies hard. A lot more trees had to come down due to storm damage,” Shaw said.
Flossmoor dissolved its 50/50 cost-sharing initiative for new trees. Instead, the village is taking the $10,000 in its budget, buying 50 trees this year and getting ready for planting on Saturday. Shaw said trees will be throughout the village, not just on the Hidden Gem route.
“It’s fun to plant trees,” he said, and urges anyone interested in volunteering to contact Flossmoor Village Hall at 708-798-2300 or contact the Green Commission through the village website at flossmoor.org.