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To help replace trees felled by the invasive emerald ash borer or severe weather, including a 2015 tornado, Grayslake plans to spend about $100,000 on planting programs.

Village trustees last week approved a $51,000 neighborhood planting program and a $40,000 multiyear native planting initiative. That’s in addition to $13,800 previously budgeted for planting trees in the village this year.

“This is real investment in the tree canopy, not a lot of places can say that,” Trustee Elizabeth Davies said.

Davies said the planting will focus on replacing trees on village property. The scars of the 2015 tornado that touched down near Grayslake Central High School can still be seen on nearby streets, including along Behm Drive just north of the road’s intersection with School Street. About 180 trees were lost.

Associate Village Manager Chris Sparkman said the village has lost to the emerald ash borer about 350 of 1,850 ash trees in the public right of way. Unlike other villages that removed all their ash trees at once, Grayslake leaders elected to pursue an ongoing treatment program on the remaining ash tree population.

Davies said planting more trees helps the community in several ways. The shade from trees cools the area, which saves money on air conditioning. Carbon storage from trees increases soil quality, helping other plants. And having more trees in an area increases property values.

“It’s a win-win-win,” she said. “I hope people look back at this decision and say, ‘Oh wow, that was a good idea.'”



Sparkman said the village will plant native trees, primarily maples, oaks, lindens and honey locusts.

Davies said the village will work this winter to decide where best to plant.

“We are going to have to spread them around,” Davies said.

Investing in tree planting isn’t new for the village. Sparkman said more than 1,700 trees have been planted since 2001 through a partnership program run by the village. Under the program, residents who plant a native tree on their property will be reimbursed 75% of the cost up to $200, excluding any sales tax, delivery or installation fees.

The program also will reimburse residents who plant nonnative trees 25% of their cost with the same restrictions. Households may participate in the program just once per year.

For that project and others, Grayslake has been recognized with the “Tree City USA” award from the National Arbor Day Foundation each of the last 27 years.


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