LOGAN SQUARE — A sparse strip of grass along Humboldt Boulevard near Palmer Square has been lined with 30 new trees, thanks to a project to add a more diverse variety of trees to the neighborhood and to inventory what's already there.
The young trees were planted by neighborhood volunteers along Humboldt between Armitage and Shakespeare avenues over the weekend as part of a project that includes a comprehensive tree inventory — the first of its kind on the city’s boulevard system, according to Angela Larson of Logan Square Preservation.
The study will continue for the next nine months to determine the urban tree landscape in the area and will include more planting of new trees and maintaining the old ones.
“Logan Square's trees are facing a serious crisis, in two words: invasive species,” Larsen said. “A key to developing a diverse urban forest is an inventory.”
That’s in part because this isn’t the first time the city has faced the problem of invasive species wiping out whole swaths of the urban forest.
In the late 1970s Logan Square’s Elm trees were cut down due to Dutch elm disease, a measure referred to as the “tree massacre” among by some, as wooded blocks that once featured a canopy of trees were replaced with rows of tree stumps.
The city replaced the Elm trees with mass plantings of Ash trees, eventually leading to the emerald ash borer as the new predominant invasive species, Larsen added. The green beetle is native to Russia and fatal to Ash trees, which make up about 40 percent of Logan Square’s trees — all of which need to be removed and replaced.
"The removal and replacement of these trees comes with a huge price tag — aesthetically, environmentally, socially and financially,” she said. “We have an opportunity at this moment in time to break this cycle and make choices that will help ensure the health of our neighborhood trees now and long into the future.”
Logan Square Preservation members say the answer is to diversify the species of trees in the neighborhood instead of allowing a single species to dominate. The plan follows a formula devised by Frank Santamour of the United States Arboretum, described in 1990 as the “10-20-30 formula” — which essentially limits the loss of any tree species to 10 percent of planted trees.
Logan Square secured about $26,000 in grants through Openlands and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, according to Larsen, who wrote the proposals for both. The grant money covered all aspects of the planting and study, which will wrap up in September.
Until then, the goal is to plant trees every spring and fall depending on information gathered from the tree inventory. Logan Square Preservation will also work with the Bureau of Forestry to identify which trees need to be removed, with the next planting slated for the spring.
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