Trees for Life,

Trees for Life, Inc., Chicago

is a 20 year old non- profit volunteer  advocacy

group that supports trees and wild life.

Coalition for Urban Ash Tree Conservation click here
Letters of Support  (From a lot of scientists ) 

"In summary, urban ash conservation can be less costly than removal, especially when the significant
environmental and economic benefits of established trees are considered"

This document is an endorsement for ash tree conservation as part of integrated approach to managing emerald ash borer in urban areas, and is supported by university scientists with expertise in EAB management, commercial arborists, municipal foresters, public works officials, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).


Trees for Life is opposed to the removal of healthy native trees in currently wooded areas.
Trees species cut down
by the Cook County Forest Preserve District

White ash

               Prickly ash
Black ash
Green ash
Quaking Aspen
Black cherry
Box elder
American Elm
Black locus
tSugar maple
Silver maple**
Red oak
Hill's oak
White oak
White Poplar**
Sandbar Willow
Black Willow

Plants and Shrubs

being removed

Wild Grape
Tall goldenrod
Cup plant
Western sunflower
Smooth sumac
Poison ivy
Black Raspberry
Gray dogwood
Silky Dogwood
Multiflora rose**

* as documented in CCFPD Ecological Management Schedules; additional species may be removed that are not documented on work schedules


Children in the Mighty Acorns Program have been exposed to open containers of herbicide and allowed to carry loppers with blades pointing up and open, often in areas inaccessible to emergency medical vehicles.

Click here to view photos
Trees save tax payers million of dollars in:

  • pollution and noise mitigation,
  • uptake and filtering of flood water,
  • cooling our neighborhoods,
  • reducing energy consumption and
  • decreasing the heat island effect in the city.

Trees for Life, Inc., Chicago is dedicated to

the preservation of diminishing urban forests in the

Cook County Forest Preserve District.

This web site is still under construction. We will add archival material as time permits. Please feel free to contact us for additional information. We have hundreds of slides and photos documenting tree cutting in the Cook County Forest Preserves from 1996-present.

What is happening in the woods around us?

For over 20 years, land management (called restoration) in the Cook County Forest Preserve District (CCFPD) in Illinois has involved cutting down thousands of healthy trees and shrubs primarily to create prairies or savannas. There is no transparency or public review of management plans.

Trees for Life, Inc. (TFL) is a community based volunteer organization formed in response to concerns regarding:

  • removal of trees and shrubs in the Forest Preserves
  • irresponsible use of herbicides
  • burning in urban neighborhoods.

The loss of urban trees is significant to all of us.

Trees save tax payers million of dollars* in:

  • pollution and noise mitigation,
  • uptake and filtering of flood water,
  • cooling our neighborhoods,
  • reducing energy consumption and
  • decreasing the heat island effect in the city.

* McPherson, GE, Nowak, DJ and Rowntree, RA. Chicago's Urban Forest Ecosystem: Results of the Chicago Urban Forest Climate Project. USDA Forest Service Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-186,1994 and NRS-62, June 2010.

In addition to cutting down trees, the CCFPD program includes herbicide applications and fire. Toxic herbicides are applied in wet areas often near rivers and streams impacting soil organisms, non-target flora and fauna and water quality. Fires are a health and safety risk.

Particulate matter in smoke is carcinogenic and poses a significant heath threat to everyone but especially to asthmatics, the young and the elderly ( Out of control fires pose a safety risk. The public continues to be mislead and misinformed as to the scope and environmental impact of these management practices.

TFL members have voiced their concerns and  documented the removal of thousands of healthy native trees, the careless use of herbicides and out of control fires for 17years. Today, the CCFPD is still managing restoration sites based on plans from the 1980s. It is time for the CCFPD to reassess their management strategy.

Land management must consider the realities of the 21st century. We need to decrease air pollution, decrease energy consumption, and decrease our carbon footprint. Cutting down healthy trees, burning and herbicide use are not green!

Existing trees are an economic resource we cannot afford to lose.

Trees for Life advocates low-impact land management alternatives to fire, herbicide use and tree-cutting in urban neighborhoods.

The Trees for Life mission is to:

  • Preserve and protect existing trees, woods and forests in  Cook County and within the City of Chicago
  • Advocate for tree protection ordinances and planting initiatives
  • Advocate for the preservation of wildlife habitat
  • Eliminate herbicide use in natural areas
  • Eliminate unsafe brush pile fires
  • Eliminate controlled burns in urban areas
  • Advocate for community input and transparency in CCPPD land management plans that impact our neighborhoods

TFL, Chicago is calling for transparent and open communication with the Cook County Forest Preserve District (CCFPD) regarding the management of the public lands entrusted to their care.

Our expectation is that things do not happen in the CCFPD without proper public notice so the community has the opportunity to review plans and participate in the decision making process. We expect to know what happens in the woods before it happens. After all, along with the wildlife, we are the ones who have to live with the consequences.

We have asked CCFPD President Toni Preckwinkle to include community associations and local environmental groups on her Forest Preserve District policy committee.

We are still waiting to hear from her.

Check out March 2, 2012 issue. "City air can kill" under the Health and Science  column.  " Spending just a few hours breathing the air of a typical city is enough to raise your risk of heart attack and stroke, new research shows. Researchers analyzed a decades worth of data and found that Boston residents were 34 percent more likely to have a stroke following a day of "moderate" opposed to "good" air quality- though both levels meet standards of the Environmental Protection Agency. A similar study by French researchers also found that mere hours of exposure to air pollution signifcantly increases the risk of heart attack. Inhaling fine particles from car exhaust, power plants, and other sources can damage the heart and lungs the same way that cigarette smoke does: clogging arteries, increasing inflammation, and raising heart and blood pressure. The difference is that "everyone is exposed" to air pollution, Hazrije Mustafic, a French cardiologist, tells Both studies point to a need for stricter air-quality standards worldwide, says John Hopkins School of Public Health professor, Roger Peng. "There is no safe level" of air pollution he says.  ( THE WEEK, March 2, 2012, page 21.)
Ash Trees Saved at Bunker Hill and LaBagh Woods

In response to community requests and Trees for Life, the Cook County Forest Preserve District has agreed to spare ash trees in the Bunker Hill and LaBagh Woods picnic groves. These trees were slated for removal as part of a district wide program to remove ash trees in the public way that may become a hazard if they become infested with the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)and die.

Commissioner Peter Silvestri has also written a letter to the Edgebrook Community Association supporting the preservation of healthy ash trees and additional funds for replanting trees at these picnic groves.

Please see the "Urban Trees" for more details on the EAB.

Cook County Forests are going up in Smoke!

Please see  slide show below.  

Use of the herbicide GARLON in the CCFPD

Garlon is regularly applied in wet areas and prior to rainstorms against the recommendation of the manufacturer. Herbicide is applied to suppress tree re-sprouting. It has recently been reported that herbicides are even more toxic at recommended concentrations than previously thought (Relyea, RA and Diecks, N. Unforeseen chain of events: lethal effects of pesticides on frogs at sub-lethal concentrations. Ecological Applications,

Claims by the CCFPD that the herbicide breaks down in 24 hours are not supported by the scientific literature. Children participating in the Mighty Acorns Program, volunteers, animals and other people are exposed to herbicides on sites where herbicides have been repeatedly applied.

Signage is often difficult to see without walking into the area where herbicide has been applied. Once signage is removed the public is unaware that herbicide has been applied.

Bunker Hill, Chicago January 4, 2009

Stumps from a stand of 80+ healthy native Quaking Aspen trees.... wiped out in a single day. According to the  volunteer steward who cut down the trees: the trees did not belong there. It begs the question, who is in charge of the Cook County Forest Preserves.

What is the environmental impact of removing trees, repeated herbicide applications and repeated burning in the same areas?

The Miami Woods and Prairie Ecological Restoration Report 2001-2010 states "The further bad news is that high quality, conservative native plants are losing ground in both the prairie and wooded areas and some have been lost entirely." The report also documents 26,223 volunteer hours to cut down "fire sensitive" trees, herbicide and burn over 10 years (Fuller, K and Fuller, J. North Branch Restoration Project, 1/25/2011).

Although the authors cite deer browsing as the cause of plant, tree seedling and sapling loss at Miami Woods, the 2005 Report on Moratorium Sites in the Forest Preserve District of Cook County states, "Areas (in Miami Woods) restored prior to the moratorium still retain noticeable and appreciable foliage in the form of native grasses, sedges, wildflowers and native shrubs."   The moratorium on native tree removal, burning and herbicide use was imposed by former CCFPD Board president John H. Stroger, Jr. from 1996-2008.

Monitoring data at Bunker Hill in Chicago also shows a decrease in bird, butterfly, dragonfly, damselfly and floral species since the moratorium was lifted.

What does TFL support?

TFL supports responsible land management with clearly defined and quantifiable goals on appropriate sites. Site selection must take into consideration community input, existing vegetation, proximity to neighborhoods, protection of existing habitat and the health and safety of the people who live adjacent to managed sites. 


One of at least 250 large trees cut down at Miami Woods to expand the prairie April 22, 2007.
Girdled tree at Miami Woods, Morton Grove
Notice of number to call if the brush pile fire gets out of control, Miami Woods, Morton Grove 12-2010.
Tree and shrub pile at LaBagh Woods, Chicago
Unattended burn pile of hot ashes off of the bike path in Miami Woods 10-1-2010. Signage illustrated to the left is visible in front of the embers.
Trees cut down to expand the Miami Woods prairie.
Unattended burn pile of hot embers visible from Waukegan Road, Miami Woods, Morton Grove 4-22-07, 9 pm
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