The village of Minooka will take a proactive step to preserve and protect its local trees.
Last week, the Minooka Village Board approved an ordinance creating a tree protection and preservation plan for the village.
The ordinance creates a forestry commission, which will include five appointed members as well as the superintendent of public works. Those appointments will be made at a future meeting.
The commission will prepare an urban forest management plan. Under that plan, the village will update an annual urban forest inventory. The plan will also include tree selection guidelines, diversity guidelines, planting and removal guidelines, and care and management procedures.
The ordinance also establishes protections for legacy trees – trees that, because of size, condition, or age hold conservation value.
The ordinance also sets penalties for anyone who damages, transplants or removes trees on public property.
Earlier in August, the Committee of the Whole held a discussion on tree preservation with Emily Okallau, community trees project coordinator with Morton Arboretum.
Okallau and the arboretum work with staff and forestry employees in local communities, HOAs, forest preserves and taxing districts to assist in efforts toward tree protection, care and preservation efforts.
“We try to improve whatever resources they may have, or what they might be lacking, we try to find opportunities for communities to take care of their trees,” Okallau said.
Earlier this year, the village of Minooka received an Illinois Department of Natural Resources grant that was used to inventory local trees. That grant funding is what prompted the creation of the new ordinance.
“One of the requirements of the grant is to develop a tree care and preservation ordinance,” Okallau said. “The reason that we do that is that we recognize that trees need to be cared for by the municipality. And, having an ordinance and having that protection helps the municipalities to level out their management.”
Okallau said trees are as important as any other infrastructure.
“Much like roads, much like sewers, much like water, much like all of those things, they need to be maintained,” Okallau said. “Those are things that need to be maintained in a community, and trees also need to be maintained. Trees are enormously helpful to community members, they’re helpful to residents, which in turn helps the municipality. So, ordinances are basically ways of managing those trees, that infrastructure.”
The commission will also work toward other grant opportunities.