The village of Riverside isn’t just the Village in the Forest any longer — it’s the Village in the Arboretum.
On Sept. 17, Village Forester Michael Collins announced that Riverside had gained accreditation as a Level II arboretum by Arbnet, an international consortium of arboreta.
Collins and Riverside resident Cathy Maloney began their quest to gain arboretum stature for the village back in June, when the village board threw its support behind the effort. Less than four months later, they received word that Riverside was in.
“We still have some work to be done, but we’re very excited about this,” Collins told the village board at its Sept. 17 meeting. “Not only will it bring about some very good educational collaboration between the schools … it will also be a great thing in the way of putting a new aspect to our central business district.”
The Level II designation means Riverside met a set of Arbnet benchmarks, including having at least 100 species of trees in its public collection, a paid forester, educational programming related to its collection, holding public events in its forested areas and having a collections policy.
Maloney, who previously served on the Riverside Landscape Advisory Commission, said that the accreditation is just the start.
“It’s not a one-and-done thing,” Maloney said. “Now we’re charged with ‘curating’ the collection.”
Riverside already has mapped out its entire public tree inventory, and the map is available publicly on the village’s website (www.riverside.il.us) by clicking the “Interactive Map of Riverside” link on the home page.
But Collins and Maloney are targeting Guthrie Park in downtown Riverside as the centerpiece of the arboretum education piece. Not only are trees mapped and their species and trunk diameter noted online, Guthrie Park’s trees are in for more attention.
The website will also have photos of the trees in their seasonal aspects. Other information about the individual species, such as the mature height of the trees and the amount of carbon dioxide and ground water they absorb will also be included.
Finally, more than 20 trees in Guthrie Park will be fitted with informational tags at the base of their trunks to help people identify them.
Work continues on updating the village’s website and on obtaining the tags, but Maloney said the hope is to have all of that work completed sometime in late October so the village can officially celebrate its arboretum status with a public celebration.
In obtaining accreditation as an arboretum, Riverside becomes just the second municipality in Illinois to be so designated. Oak Park was accredited in April. Brookfield Zoo also has obtained designation as an arboretum.