Mount Prospect's trees are worth a lot of green.
A consultant hired to draft an "urban forest management plan" for Mount Prospect concluded that the village's 23,724 parkway trees have an appraised value of about $118 million. The report also states that the village's tree-care efforts generate a return of $2.29 in environmental benefit for each dollar spent on maintenance.
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Christopher Luley, a partner in New York-based Urban Forestry LLC, told village officials during a recent committee-of-the-whole meeting that the village's tree-maintenance plan was strong.
"I really believe you have a legacy of urban forestry here in the village," he said.
The forest management plan, adopted by village leaders earlier this week, is an update of an earlier plan in place since 1993. A federal grant of $15,000 helped pay for preparation of the new plan.
"When I saw that the grant funds were available, I jumped on this because it had been some time since we'd updated the plan, and it's always good to get a set of fresh eyes on it," Mount Prospect Forestry & Grounds Superintendent Sandy Clark said. "I'm really pleased with how it turned out, and I think the residents have a nice plan in place to guide our practices in the future."
The consultants found that overall, the "vast majority" of the village's parkway trees are in very good or excellent condition. Destructive forces like Dutch elm disease and the tree-killing emerald ash borer have caused losses -- infestation by the emerald ash borer, for example, has resulted in the removal of 919 ash trees -- but the village's forestry team has minimized the impact, the plan states.
The economic benefits of the parkway trees was determined via a process called "i-Tree Streets Modeling," which measures benefits such as energy savings, air-quality improvement, stormwater-runoff reduction and aesthetic impact. The total value of these benefits combined was nearly $3 million, or about $2.29 per dollar of investment.
The report also offered recommendations for how to keep the village's trees healthy and strong in the years ahead. Clark said that in particular, the consultants urged Mount Prospect to continue diversifying the species of trees planted on parkways and to be more aggressive with early pruning efforts.
Residents interested in viewing the plan can find it on the village's website, mountprospect.org.
Daily Herald staff writer Steve Zalusky contributed to this report.