As you walk through Urbana Park District parks, you’re sure to notice all the mature trees supplying shade in warm weather and vibrant color in crisp fall weather.
Park District specialists have plans to keep trees healthy, remove dead or sick trees and plant new trees to keep the life cycle going.
The key is to be proactive and anticipate potential diseases, pests and trees dying due to age. Urbana Park District has such a proactive tree replacement plan and has money budgeted to support that plan.
Before the Emerald Ash Borer started threatening ash trees in our area, the Urbana Park District began preparing for its arrival. In 2009, the district inventoried all of its free standing park ash trees—not including trees that grow in natural areas such as Busey Woods. At that time, the inventory totaled 366 ash trees. “As the Emerald Ash Borer was on the horizon, the park district chose to start treating specimen and prominent ash trees in various parks. Right now we still have 23 trees on our treatment list,” McMahon said.
The Park District applied chemicals to repel the ash borer while continuing to prioritize the removal of ash trees based upon their health and state of decline. By 2013, the Park District had around 100 ash trees. Now there are 37 left.
That’s the bad news.
But, the good news is that even with losing so many ash trees, Urbana Park District has had a net gain in its tree population in parks. Many others parks in Illinois have suffered devastating tree losses.
Why the difference at Urbana Park District? Preparation.
Over the last five years, Urbana Park District planted 385 trees, and although not all were ash tree replacements, the UPD has made an ongoing effort to maintain an abundance of tree cover in our parks.
“Some of the plantings are tribute or memorial trees, and some are part of a larger landscape renovation project such as what’s been happening at Meadowbrook Park, with the Wandell Sculpture Garden, Hickman Wildflower Walk and Douglas Creek,” McMahon explained.
He concluded, “People in Urbana love their trees. The benefits of trees are also too numerous to list.”