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Work Groups

CRTI’s work groups develop programs to address gaps in the care of the Chicago region’s urban forest.

Content Detail

Four active work groups focus their attention on tree planting, stewardship, research, education, policy, skill and training development, and resource needs for the regional forest.

The work groups meet throughout the year and come together annually for the Partner Recognition Celebration. They are tackling the regional forest’s central issues.

Accordion List

  • The Forest Composition Work Group gathers and analyzes forest composition and canopy cover data for the region to provide an accurate snapshot of our forest structure and to identify priority areas for planting and stewardship projects. They also developed an interactive priority map and canopy cover summary packets to help public and private land managers. They meet as needed.

  • The Tree Stewardship and Planting Work Group aims to improve the practice of urban forestry (specifically tree planting and care) and share best practices with people who work in tree- or forestry-related professions throughout the region. They meet monthly.

  • Our Trees and Green Infrastructure Work Group addresses related policy issues, such as bringing the strategies and processes of natural systems into the built environment and implementing the Chicago Wilderness Oak Ecosystems Recovery Plan. The work group is currently creating recommendations for tree protection ordinances, development and zoning ordinances, and urban forest advocacy. They meet quarterly.

  • The biggest threats to our urban forest are the changing climate, in which extreme weather, increased pest pressure and associated issues will exacerbate damage to and from trees; and the unintentional damage caused by people who need a broader understanding of arboricultural practices and science. By providing targeted training and outreach to improve tree risk assessment and management, the Tree Risk Assessment and Management Work Group seeks to ameliorate the increasing threats faced by trees. They meet quarterly.

The primary role of the Forest Composition Work Group is to get an accurate snapshot of our current forest structure and to identify underserved areas in our region where planting trees will have the highest impact.

To this end, this work group collects and maps data from the Chicago Region Tree Census, inventories from private and municipal property, an Urban Tree Canopy Assessment, and many other sources. The collected data will be used to develop interactive community-scale maps and to inform the specific, measurable composition goals of CRTI.


Lindsay Darling, CRTI,

The Tree Stewardship and Planting Work Group is focused on increasing the number of new trees in the Chicago region and ensuring that they reach maturity.

This work group also coordinates the CRTI Community Tree Network, which offers peer-to-peer learning workshops on contemporary urban forestry issues several times a year. The group also consults with schools and in communities on planting plans.


Brianna White, CEO and Office Manager, Emerald Tree Care,

Michael Collins, Village of Riverside,

The purpose of the Trees and Green Infrastructure Work Group (TGIWG) is to ensure urban forest ecosystem services are preserved and protected in local policies, and oak ecosystems are understood, restored, and protected.

To do this, this group assists communities in developing sound policies for managing public and private trees and expand appreciation for trees as critical infrastructure that improves with age. This work group advises on the CRTI’s Oak Ecosystem Restoration work, as well as drafts policy recommendations for tree protection and preservation, before, during, and after building or development.

Along with general membership, the group currently boasts three subgroups:

  • 21st Century Tree Protection Ordinance subgroup
  • Development Ordinance subgroup
  • Tree Advocacy subgroup

Examples of projects they’ve worked on are CRTI tree preservation ordinance templates and the Chicago Wilderness Oak Ecosystem Recovery implementation Project.


Karen Miller, Kane County,

Robyn Flakne, Village of Glenview,

The goal of the Tree Risk Assessment and Management Work Group is to maintain a healthy urban forest that is resilient to ongoing threats.

This group of arborists with diverse backgrounds represents both the public and private sectors and evaluates the biggest challenges to appropriately managing trees in the region. Through outreach and advocacy this work group seeks to inform and empower land managers to take action to support a healthy regional tree canopy.

Need to convince a local decision-maker of the value of maintaining our urban forest?  Please visit the Tree Risk Assessment and Management (TRAM) Work Group’s Tree Risk Tool Kit for an informational, ready-to-share video.

From proper pruning to tree risk assessment, the Urban Forestry Basic Training course developed by TRAM gives participants a valuable introduction on how to care for trees.  For more information and to register for the upcoming Spring or Fall session, please visit the Urban Forestry Basic Training webpage.

The spread of invasive shrub and tree species such as European buckthorn and Tree-of-Heaven diminish the diversity of the urban forest and can provide habitat for other deleterious forest pests such as  the spotted lantern fly. To identify and control invasive weeds found in our region, refer to the Management of Invasive Plants and Pests of Illinois Guide.

Options for replacement plants after the removal of invasive shrubs can be found in the Healthy Habitats suite of brochures. Work group members also contribute to regional workshops that include tips on identifying and removing woody invasive shrubs.


Kim Blaszczak, Cook County,

Daniel Miraval, Green Extraction Technologies and Emerald Tree Care,