T.R.E.E. (To Rescue Evanston Elms) started in about 2001 in response to the removal of hundreds of Evanston’s beloved elm trees. The group successfully advocated for the injection of Arbotect, a fungicide to protect the City’s elm tree population from the spread of Dutch Elm Disease – a fatal disease that was rapidly killing much of Evanston’s elm tree population. The loss of our magnificent elm trees was changing the ambiance of our community, negatively affecting housing values, harming the environment and costing Evanston residents millions in tax dollars.
From 1997-2004, Evanston lost more than 1,500 elm trees resulting in an estimated cost for labor, equipment, replacement etc. of approximately $4,5 Million.
As a result of T.R.E.E.’s efforts, in 2005, the City of Evanston began injecting a limited number of Evanston’s elm trees. The injection program proved to be 99% effective in saving our elm trees and in 2011 was expanded to include all of Evanston’s public elm trees larger than 10 inches in diameter.
Since that time, the City has injected all public elm trees with a 98.5% effectiveness rate. The result has been a dramatic decrease in the number of elm trees being cut down and dramatic cost savings.
On May 11, 2020, the Evanston City Council alderman voted 7-2 in favor to move to an alternate injection program that would NOT treat half the City’s 1,815 elm trees in 2020, instead, deferring their injection to 2021. According to the nation’s foremost expert on elm tree preservation, this move will up to 136 (15%) of the non-injected trees at risk of being infected by the disease, dying and being removed this summer. This would come at an estimated cost of $408,000, or more than the amount being saved by NOT injecting the trees. Injecting our trees is the fiscally responsible thing to do!
Additionally, Evanston had a mild winter this year, which means more pests survived, so there may be even higher numbers of trees at risk.
Evanston has long been known as a Tree City. There are few trees that provide the majestic beauty and stunning canopy over our streets that Evanston’s elms provide. These mature trees (on average, about 125 years old) have a potential lifespan in excess of 400 years, so they have many more years to give us. They are one of the sturdiest urban trees in existence. Their impact on the environment is irreplaceable as they absorb large quantities of rain water, provide homes for our large raptor birds and stand up well to the assaults of our urban environment.
Please join us in contacting your Evanston Alderman and ask them to immediately restore full funding for the elm tree injection program. Injections can only be performed during the growing season, so the funds need to be approved now.