Several McHenry County municipalities were on the list of 191 communities in the state honored Thursday as Tree Cities.
McHenry has reached the milestone of 15 years of promoting tree planting and care as recognized by the Tree City USA program. The city is in its second year of using computer mapping to create a tree inventory, although it’s a work in progress, said Tom Schmidt, superintendent of forestry and park planning.
“That will tell us the overall health of our trees, how many trees are out there, [and] what species,” he said. “It will help provide more information for better management.”
Many communities, such as Hampshire, have policies set in place for tree preservation when land is developed. The village has been named a Tree City for the fifth year.
“A tree survey must be completed, and if they have any trees to be taken down, they have to be replaced at a certain ratio or a monetary contribution has to be made,” said Eric Palm, Hampshire village administrator.
But urbanization is not the only problem facing McHenry County’s trees. The invasive emerald ash borer has been spotted in several communities, including Algonquin and Huntley.
Finding funding to fight the infestation, which often includes cutting the trees down, is difficult, Palm said.
“A lot of communities are realizing that maintaining any remaining ash trees is going to be difficult at best, if not impossible,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of drafts to determine how to address those issues because ultimately we don’t have enough funding to remove every infected ash tree.”
In addition to McHenry and Hampshire, other communities listed as Tree Cities are Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Cary, Lakewood and Trout Valley.
To be eligible for the Tree City USA program, a community must designate a tree advocate and have an ordinance establishing its standards for urban forest management.
Tree Cities also must spend at least $2 a resident for their urban forestry program and have annual Arbor Day tree-planting ceremonies.