City of Urbana Legacy Tree Program Adds Leal Park Oaks
Urbana’s trees are a source of shared pride in our community. And Urbana is one of 13 charter Tree City USA communities in the United States. Urbana can claim trees that are historic, unique, rare and one-of-a-kind specimens.
The Urbana Park District manages thousands of trees on park property as well. Together, the city and park systems’ trees make up a very diverse urban forest.
The Legacy Tree Program—established by the Urbana City Council—celebrates, recognizes and protects Urbana’s most significant trees.
There have been two Leal Park trees nominated and accepted: A White Oak and a Bur Oak. Both were selected for nomination by the Urbana Park District for their size, age and proximity to a historic structure.
Urbana Park District Project Assistant Kara Dudek worked on the nominations.
These trees share grounds with the Greek Revival Cottage—important because it is the oldest documented residence in Urbana, she explained.
“It is also likely due to the size, location and growth structure of the trees that they are remnants of the Big Grove, a forest that was in much of Champaign County prior to the settlement of Urbana,” she noted.
“The white oak is also designated by the International Society of Arboriculture [with a plaque] as a bicentennial tree, as it lived here at the time of the signing of the U.S. Constitution,” Dudek added.
The Bur oak is roughly 57 inches in diameter at breast height [4’ off the ground]. It is 81 feet high and has a 98-foot crown spread. The White oak is also roughly 57 inches in diameter at breast height. It is 81 feet high and has a 105-foot crown spread.
How a tree is designated a Legacy Tree?
The Urbana Park District nominated these for inclusion in the Legacy Tree program. What followed was an evaluation of the trees, including location and tree health. (Details of the assessment criteria can be found online at www.urbanaillinois.us/legacytree and at the Urbana Public Works office at 706 S. Glover Street.)
Following the assessment, the City Arborist submitted the tree to the Urbana Tree Commission, along with a recommendation that the nominated trees should be designated Legacy Trees. The Tree Commission then considered whether the nominated trees qualify under the Legacy Tree Assessment. The Commission may designate the nominated tree as a Legacy Tree by a majority vote of all voting members who are present and voting. The City Council and Park District Board of Commissioners signed a legacy tree agreement this summer.
Dudek encourages everyone to stop by and see these great oaks.
“They are truly impressive,” she said.
“None of us knows anyone who was alive when the Constitution was signed, for example, but here we have something that WAS alive. You can touch it and see it and think about what life might have been like here when that tree first grew.
The public can help celebrate, recognize and protect our city’s most significant trees through the Legacy Tree Program by nominating a tree or donating to the program. Learn more by emailing City Arborist Mike Brunk at firstname.lastname@example.org, calling 384-2393 or visiting 706 S. Glover Street.