The Riverside Public Works Department will begin updating its tree inventory in the coming weeks, using global positioning technology to digitally map the village’s nearly 10,000 trees for the first time.

The Riverside Village Board approved funding for the project, totaling $15,760, at their Feb. 26 meeting. Half of the cost will be paid for with a forestry grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Village Forester Michael Collins explained the tree inventory was important in terms of keeping track of the numbers of each species in the village, as well as identifying potential problem areas.

“It’s just like with any other business-it’s important to have an inventory of your resources,” he said, adding that an accurate inventory would be especially helpful in detecting Dutch elm disease or the emerald ash borer in the village’s tree population.

In fact, he said, it was the threat of the emerald ash borer that prompted the state to provide the forestry grant in the first place. The beetle has killed millions of trees across the Midwest, but has so far only been found in Kane and Cook counties in Illinois.

“It allows us to update our resources to track how the state may be affected,” he said.

The village’s current inventory was created in 1992 and is updated by Collins every year, but he said the new inventory would be more detailed in that it would include the exact latitude and longitude coordinates for every tree in Riverside. Previously, the inventory software had only been able to identify the location of trees on the parkway, using street addresses.

The inventory will also include a picture of each tree, as well as a description of its general condition and any maintenance that might be needed.

As part of the agreement with the Davey Resource Group, the company who created the inventory software, representatives from their company will be gathering information on the approximately 2,600 to 3,000 trees in the village’s public park areas. Collins said that database should be completed by April.

He also cautioned residents not to be alarmed if they see people wandering around the parks with high-tech equipment.

“People will be walking around getting geographical information, with antennas sticking out of their backpacks,” he said. “It will look strange to residents, but they’re supposed to be there.”

The remaining 7,500 trees on Riverside’s parkways will be added to the inventory by Collins and other workers in the Public Works Department. Collins estimated that the whole inventory could take “several years” to complete, and said the department would be looking for other funding sources to help the process along.