The Forestry Section maintains approximately 30,000 street and public trees throughout the City of Highland Park. Tree care includes planting, pruning, integrated pest management and removal hazardous parkway trees, as defined by City code. In addition, the Forestry Section manages the landscaping of over 150 City-owned properties including public facilities, train stations, and business districts. The Forestry Section is also responsible for reviewing construction and the care of vegetation within ravines and bluffs for complainace with the City of Highland Park Tree Preservation Ordinance.
For additional information, please review the topics below or contact Forestry Section staff.
TREE REMOVAL PERMIT APPLICATIONS
An approved tree removal permit is required for any tree, dead or alive, ≥8" in diameter (measured at ~4.5' above the soil) or ≥15" aggregate diameter for multi-stem trees.
Removal of ANY vegetation within the "Steep Slope Zone" (as defined by Chapter 150 of Highland Park City code) requires an approved tree removal permit application. Please contact Forestry for more information.
Tree removal permit applications may be submitted online, via email, or in-person.
Online Tree Permit Application
Please note that there are required fields to be completed for form submittal. This includes:
- Site Address
- # of Trees to be Removed
- DBH/Species/Reason/Location (Tree #1)
- Applicant Information (Name, Phone #, Email Address)
- Check Box for Terms & Conditions
You may also download and complete the fillable PDF application . Once completed, please email it to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. This form may be saved, reset and reused as needed for future tree removal needs.
A hardcopy of this application is available here and can be submitted at Public Works or City Hall:
|Public Works||City Hall|
|1150 Half Day Rd||1707 St. Johns Ave|
|Highland Park, IL 60035||Highland Park, IL 60035|
TREE REPLACEMENT REQUIREMENTS
Removal of otherwise healthy trees from private property in Highland Park, may require homeowners/developers to plant new trees. Typically this occurs in conjunction with a re-landscaping or construction project. The required number and specie of replacement trees is dependent on the quantity and specie of trees removed.
The City of Highland Park- Code Plant Palette inludes species apporpriate for Highland Park and accepted as construction replacement.. Please note that this document is updated regularly and may change on a routine basis.
GREEN DOTS ON TREE
As you travel around Highland Park, you may have noticed that some of the trees adjacent to City streets are marked with a green dot. On most public streets, the strip of land adjacent to the edge of the streets is owned by the City, even in those areas where a sidewalk doesn't exist. This strip of land is the public right-of-way.
The green markings are placed on trees to allow Forestry staff and City contractors to better identify publicly maintained trees. Each year, in preparation for routine parkway tree pruning, all trees within a scheduled section of Highland Park are re-inventoried and all "green dot" markings are refreshed. For this reason, some dots in town may appear greener and brighter than others.
PARKWAY TREE PRUNING
Parkway Tree Pruning
Routine tree pruning is an important component of Highland Park’s tree maintenance program. To maintain a routine pruning cycle, the City is divided into eight districts with each district containing approximately the same number of trees. Each Winter (typically in February & March), parkway trees within one of these regions are pruned. Parkway tree pruning is conducted according to ANSI A300 Standards to maintain tree health and to provide necessary clearance for vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
Trees to be pruned are all situated within the City’s rights-of-way adjacent to streets and other public lands. All work will be done to improve and maintain the health and quality of the trees and to assure the safety and accessibility of streets and sidewalks within Highland Park.
2020 Routine Pruning Map
Tree Pruning Regions;
If you have any questions concerning the work or contractors, please contact City Forester, Keith O'Herrin at 847.432.0807.
VALUE OF TREES
Trees Increase Property Values
Real estate values increase when trees beautify a property or neighborhood. Trees can increase the property value of your home by 15% or more.
Trees Produce Oxygen
The urban forest acts as a giant filter that cleans the air we breathe. In one season, an acre of trees produce as much oxygen as 10 people inhale in a year.
Trees Are Carbon Sinks
To produce its food, a tree absorbs and locks away carbon dioxide in the wood, roots and leaves. Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. A forest acts as a “sink” or storage area to absorb some of our CO2 emissions.
Trees Clean the Soil and Purify Water
Trees can store harmful pollutants or even change the pollutant into less harmful forms. Trees filter chemicals thereby cleaning water runoff that flows into streams.
Trees Control Noise Pollution
Trees are very effective at blocking urban noise like traffic.
Trees Clean the Air
Trees help cleanse the air through their respiration. They intercept airborne particles and absorb pollutants like CO, SO2, & NO2.
Trees Fight Soil Erosion
Tree roots hold soil together and their leaves break the force of wind and rain on soil. Trees and grasses are invaluable to the structural integrity of the ravine and bluff.
Trees and Temperature Control
Shade from trees reduces the need for air conditioning. Studies have shown that urban environments without shade trees form "heat islands" where temperatures can be nearly 12°F higher than surrounding areas. In winter, trees act as a wind break, lowering heating costs.
HEALTH AND MAINTENANCE OF TREES
Mulching & watering are the easiest ways to improve the health of your trees.
- Add mulch to the base of your tree after removing grass within a 3-10' radius of the trunk (based on the size of the tree)
- Place natural mulch (such as wood chips or bark pieces 2-4" in depth in a ring about the trunk
- Do not pile mulch against the trunk, as this will promote rot in the tree (Volcano Mulching)
- Add more mulch every 2-3 years as necessary
- Water the tree until the soil is moist, not soggy. Too much water is just as harmful as too little
- Infrequent, deep watering is better than frequent light watering. Evaporation (especially in hot weather) means most water will not make it to your tree if it isn't deeply watered
- The best time of year to prune is the winter
- The worst time of year to prune is early Fall or Spring, when fungal diseases are most prevalent.
- If you are unsure if your trees need pruning, a Certified Arborist can help.
PLANTING NATIVE SPECIES
There are many reasons why your next landscaping projects should include native species. Generally speaking, natives species require less maintenance, as they are adept at dealing with ecological and environmental conditions in this area. Overall, the survivability of natives is higher and requires fewer chemical inputs, such as fertilizer and pesticide for them to thrive in your garden. Unlike annuals that die each Fall, native perennials do not require replacement year after year to maintain a well stocked landscape. In addition to hosting many of our pollinating insects, mammals, and birds they also aid in combating many conditions of urban development. These include erosion (particularly in ravines and bluffs), flooding/storm water management, and combating invasive species encroachment.
Since 2010, the City of Highland Park has made the use of native species central to a number of landscaping initiatives. The McClory Bike Trail Pollinator Garden project aims to replace invasive buckthorn along the trail with native, pollinator friendly species. Beyond its function within a natural area, natives can also be a staple within formal landscape design. This can be seen in a number of recent City projects at City Hall, Port Clinton Square, and islands within the Central Business District.
|First Street Island||McClory Trail Pollinator Garden||Laurel Avenue Underpass|
Invasive species, such as buckthorn and bush-honeysuckle grow vigorously and form dense thickets.These weedy shrubs shade out under story vegetation and out-compete native species for resources. Although these shrubs function as privacy screening between homes, many native shrubs and trees serve the same function without the detrimental side effects to your landscape.The Chicago Region Trees Initiative has compiled a list of Invasive Woody Plant Replacements that function as excellent vegetative screening.
SELECTING NATIVE PLANTS FOR RAVINE OR BLUFF RESTORATION
North shore ravines and bluffs were historically covered with many plant species. To maximize success of your restoration, choose plants adapted to your local shade, moisture, and temperature conditions. Strive to purchase plants that were grown locally from seeds or stock harvested close to the Illinois Lake Michigan shoreline. Please note that this list is not intended to be exclusive or comprehensive, and it is recommended that you first seek advice from a licensed landscape architect or arborist to determine which plants are most suitable for your property. When planting, please ensure that landscaping debris is hauled off site and not deposited into the ravines.
Select Native Ravine Plants for Restoration
For further information on native species and steep slope restoration, please contact the City Forester at 847.926.1604.
RAVINE & BLUFF RESTORATION
Two unique features of Highland Park's landscape are it's winding ravines and towering bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan. The ravines and bluffs, known as "Steep Slope Zone" under Chapter 150 of Highland Park City code, are sensitive to distrubance, and caution needs to be taken when working or planning to work in these areas. City code allows for the management and mainteance of the Steep Slope Zone, but there are strict regulations in place to ensure that Best Management Practices (BMPs) are followed. The ravines and bluffs provide invalubale ecological, strutural, and financial benefits to the residents of Highland Park.
The city, along with the Park District of Highland Park, has developed a guide to
Maintanining Ravine and Bluff Vegetation in the Steep Slope Zone.
Before working in the Steep Slope Zone, it is important to consult with a professional and contact the Department of Public Work: Forestry Section in regards to permit requirements. An approved permit is required for the removal of any vegetation (includes for landcaping, ecological restoration, or construction purposes) within the Steep Slope Zone.
For information related to ravine and bluff maintenance work or permit requirements for tree care, please see Tree Removal Permit Applications above.
TREE PRESERVATION & CONSTRUCTION
Each tree species has unique characteristics. Some can stand dead for years, while others can become dangerous in a year or two. Of particular concern to residents are trees that can destabilize and become hazardous due to root decay, especially on windy days. A dead Ash tree is a good example of a tree that needs to be addressed quickly, as it tends to degrade rapidly. Residents should contact a Certified Arborist. Please see the City's Licensed Landscaper page for a list of Certified Arborists in the Highland Park area.
The City encourages residents to proactively remove any potentially unsafe tree(s) including those on or very close to property lines. In these situations, it is important to work with your neighbor.
Tree & Construction in Highland Park Pamphlet
McCLORY BIKE TRAIL POLLINATOR GARDEN
The Robert McClory Bike Path (a.k.a. The Green Bay Trail) is a 25 mile trail connecting many of the communities along Lake Michigan in the northern suburbs of Chicago. The City of Highland Park has partnered with the Park District of Highland to create the McClory Bike Trail Pollinator Garden. The overarching goal of this initiative is the conversion of the primary cover from invasive vegetation to native species of shrubs, wildflowers, and trees. This will greatly improve the ecological value of this land by providing habitat to pollinating insects, birds, and animals while reducing maintenance cost incurred by invasive vegetation encroachment on the trail.
As with many forest patches in the North Shore, the invasive shrub Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) has become the dominant species in the understory, choking out beneficial native shrubs and perennial wildflowers. Buckthorn also influences overstory trees as it forms dense thickets, limiting what tree seedlings germinate and thrive. This has profoundly impacted the regeneration of many of our native hardwood trees in Highland Park’s Oak/Hickory forests.
This invasive shrub spreads readily and quickly forming monoculture stands, shading out and outcompeting natives for light and resources. With its rapid growth habit, additional financial burdens are created by the spread of this vegetation into walking paths, sidewalks and streets. Thereby requiring significant annual expenditures to remediate obstructions. This impact is present in park district properties, forest preserves, City rights-of way, and private property.
Buckthorn can also cause seriously detrimental consequences in our ravines and bluff where limiting the growth of deep rooted natives can compromise structural stability within the landscape. Recognizing the threat posed by invasive species (such as Buckthorn, Honeysuckle, garlic mustard, Japanese Knotweed, etc...) groups such as the Park district of Highland Park, The Friends of the Green Bay Trail, Lake County/Cook County Forest Preserve Districts, have sought to eliminate invasive species from their public lands.
In 2017, Highland Park received a ComEd Green Region grant to create pollinator friendly habitat along the McClory Bike Trail. Removal of invasive Buckthorn, Honeysuckle, and Norway Maple began that Autumn. Beginning in May 2018 and continuing in 2019, City and Park District Staff along with volunteers from Northwood Middle School and Highland Park High School have installed plugs, shrubs, and trees across two acres of the bike trail.
For more information on this project or to volunteer at an upcoming event, please contact the Forestry Section at 847.432.0807.
Northwood Gives Back @ Lincoln Place (9.26.2019)
Spring 2018-Summer 2019
EMERALD ASH BORER (EAB)
Emerald ash borer (EAB) is a non-native insect that was discovered in Michigan in the summer of 2002. EAB insects feed on ash trees, which quickly results in tree mortality. Since their discovery, state and local governments have made significant efforts to eradicate them. Despite efforts made, the insect population has continued to migrate in all directions from its origin in Michigan.
Information for tree inspection when buying or selling a home.
Ash Tree Removal
The City’s Forestry Section stopped planting ash trees in 2003 once it was understood EAB would not be quarantined in Michigan. Since 2011, when EAB was discovered here in Highland Park, the City has been removing ash trees located on public property that have been attacked by EAB. Though treatment to prevent Emerald Ash Borer attack on ash trees is possible, it is not financially feasible on a city-wide scale. However, homeowners should consult a Certified Arborist as preserving their ash may make sense. Ash trees made up approximately 15% of our street tree population in 2011, but as of summer 2017 are down to about 1.5% of street trees.
DUTCH ELM DISEASE (DED)
What is Dutch Elm Disease?
Dutch Elm Disease (DED) is a vascular disease affecting all species of elm. However, our native American Elm (Ulmus americana) is most severely affected by this fungus.
The most apparent symptom of DED is a characteristic wilting of leaves. These wilting leaves will first turn yellow and hang from the branch (much like a flag without a breeze). The “flagging” leaves will subsequently turn brown and prematurely drop. Often fallen leaves can be found on the ground below infected elm trees, in the late spring and summer months, particularly in hot/humid weather.
In the early stages of infection, flagging is typically isolated to a single branch of the tree. In later stages of infection branch dieback will extend into a larger portion of the tree’s canopy, until eventually the tree will succumb to the disease.
Dutch Elm Disease in Highland Park
As trees infected with DED pose a significant likelihood of passing the disease on to adjacent Elm trees, Highland Park City Code requires the removal of DED infested elm trees on private property. This limits the chance that the disease can spread to other healthy Elms on private or public property. Each year the Forestry Section monitors public and private properties for signs of trees infected with DED. Once identified, property owners are notified of the infestation.
Despite the presence of DED, Elms are an important component to the urban forest of Highland Park. DED resistant varieties of Elms are routinely incorporated into the Highland Park’s tree planting programs. Although no specie of elm is immune to DED, cultivars of the American Elm have been produced that are resistant to DED.
Preventing Dutch Elm Disease
Most often, the fungus that causes DED is transmitted from an infected tree to other elms by the Elm Bark Beetle. This insect will pick up the fungus after hatching inside an infected Elm or infested firewood and will move on to healthy Elm trees to feed. In the process, infesting a new host with the disease.
Although healthy trees can be treated to prevent DED, there is no cure. Once a tree has been infected, the fungus can persist. Trunk Injection of fungicide and removal of infected branches is the best method to preserve a tree with DED, if diagnosed early on. If you suspect that your tree may be infected, contact a Certified Arborist to discuss your options. If you cut down a tree due to DED, do not store logs from infected elm trees near healthy elms on your property or near your neighbor’s elms. The disease can still spread once the tree is cut down.
A Certified Arborist can help you identify American Elm trees on your property and help you get ahead of possible DED infestations. The City's Landscaper Licensing program includes a list of Certified Arborists licensed to work in Highland Park.
ORDINANCE ON FERTILIZERS CONTAINING PHOSPHOROUS
REALTOR GUIDE FOR FORESTRY CONCERNS
BUYING OR SELLING A HOME - DID YOU INSPECT THE TREES?
When marketing a home, most sellers will either disclose any known issues up front, or take care of repairs around the house to get the most value out of their home. One area that is often overlooked with a home inspection is the landscaping on the property, in particular, the trees on the property.
The health and proximity of the trees to the house is an important feature not to be overlooked. Any remedial maintenance efforts, after the sale of home, could be costly and potentially dangerous if there are diseased or dead trees on the property.
A good example of this would be standing dead or dying trees that have either Emerald Ash Borer or Dutch Elm Disease. Removal of these trees may involve a significant investment to keep the property safe. Also at certain times of the year, identifying these trees may be very difficult to see and identified by an untrained eye. Both Emerald Ash Borer and Dutch Elm Disease are well established in Lake County and are likely present in most neighborhoods being considered.
A careful inspection of the landscaping on a property can help you sell your home or help avert any unexpected future costs. The City recommends contacting a Certified Arborist to assess the trees and identify any potential concerns on the property.
As the removal of trees is regulated by Highland Park city code, please contact Forestry at 847.432.0807 if you have any questions regarding tree preservation or removal.