Get to Know the Chicago Region Trees Initiative

The Chicago Region Trees Initiative (CRTI), the Village of Flossmoor’s partner and benefactor for Plant the Gem, is an organization comprised of communities, individuals, organizations, green industry, businesses and governments working together to develop and implement strategies for a healthier, more diverse, more equitable urban forest in the Chicagoland region. As the largest initiative of its kind in the United States, CRTI leverages funding, knowledge, skills, and expertise to reach the goals of its comprehensive Master Plan.

Through dedicated research and data collection, CRTI has found that Chicago’s regional forest, which it deems as critical infrastructure and aa community asset, needs protection and improvement. Trees serve many important purposes, from cleaning air and water, and reducing flooding, to saving energy and improving property values. The value that trees provide in supporting habitat for local wildlife and improving quality of life in communities are also key factors in CRTI’s preservation and advocacy efforts.


Because the region’s trees are threatened by many challenges, including invasive plants and pests, development, and a lack of funding for planting and proper care, CRTI is working diligently to partner with communities like Flossmoor to encourage widespread tree stewardship and action.


Flossmoor Green Commissioner Tristan Shaw was familiar with CRTI’s work and saw an opportunity for Flossmoor to join the initiative. Knowing how dedicated Flossmoor is to tree preservation, Shaw knew that the connection made sense and felt confident that Flossmoor could host a special project in partnership with CRTI.


When Shaw presented the opportunity to Trinity Pierce, CRTI Stewardship Manager and Certified Arborist, she was familiar with the community and the annual Hidden Gem Half Marathon. Impressed by the community’s commitment to tree preservation, with initiatives like the Free Parkway Tree Program and dedicated Forestry Maintenance Technician, and with the Gem’s ability to recruit an impressive number of volunteers, she saw how the pieces could come together for Plant the Gem.


Thanks to a $30,000 Federal Earmark, made available through the support of Representative Sean Casten, CRTI chose Flossmoor to host what could potentially be one of the largest single-day tree plantings in the state of Illinois.


Organizers for Plant the Gem are currently recruiting more than 400 volunteers to plant more than 300 trees, funded by the $30,000 Federal Earmark, along the race route of the Hidden Gem Half Marathon. Volunteers will work in teams of three to five people, planting anywhere from three to five trees from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, October 15.