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Prairie Rivers Network launching Save Our Trees campaign

A monarch butterfly perched on a white oak that shows symptoms of herbicide pollution.
Prairie Rivers Network. A monarch butterfly (Illinois’ state insect) perched on a white oak (Illinois’ state tree) that shows symptoms of herbicide pollution. Oaks are one of the most valuable host trees for moths and butterflies, but are suffering severely from herbicide drift.

Remember when we did that Instagram Story Takeover with Prairie Rivers Network, wherein they discussed the spread of herbicides and how they drift into the community in ways you might not have otherwise known? The organization is now launching a campaign, including public events that are kicking off tomorrow. They did a talk with Chris Jones about their Clean Water Forever campaign at the Orpheum back in October. Check out what they’re planning below.

From the press release:

Prairie Rivers Network Launches Save Our Trees Community Awareness and Art Activation in Champaign-Urbana

Champaign-Urbana, IL — Prairie Rivers Network (PRN) is launching a community awareness campaign for the month of April to bring attention to the dangerous spread of herbicides used in agricultural production and chemical lawn treatments. Drifting herbicides can move long distances from the site of application, harming trees and plants on public and private property throughout Illinois. This herbicide trespass not only harms plants, but threatens the health of our communities. Public education events will accompany art installations across Champaign-Urbana as part of the Boneyard Arts Festival happening throughout the community April 12-14, 2024. With over six years of recorded monitoring and testing of plants and trees in 40 counties throughout Illinois, Prairie Rivers Network and the Save Our Trees Coalition is ringing the alarm and educating community members about the unintended impacts of widely used herbicides such as 2,4-d and dicamba.

Prairie Rivers Network and our partners will be holding a press conference on Friday, April 12, at 2:00 p.m. at Carle Park, 400 W. Indiana Ave., in Urbana. We will be joined by Urbana Mayor Diane Wolfe Marlin and Tim Bartlett from the Urbana Park District. Co-author of Prairie Rivers Network’s upcoming report documenting over six years of damage and injury to Illinois’ trees and plants, Kim Erndt-Pitcher, will also be present to talk about her research and what actions should be taken by city, county, and state officials to address this urgent issue. The event is supported by a visual public art installation at Carle Park, one of the locations where we tested for herbicide pollution last summer, featuring ribbons tied around all 300+ trees in the community park by community members. 

“Spring herbicide spraying has begun across Illinois,” said Kim Erndt-Pitcher, PRN’s Director of Ecological Health, “impacting communities and neighbors in its path. Most people are unaware that applications in lawns, school yards, parks, and agricultural fields can cause injury to trees and plants in a neighboring  yard, or even miles away. We want people to know how to recognize symptoms of drift injury and what to do when they see them.”

The Urbana Park District has implemented several measures to stop and prevent the use of dangerous herbicides on city property.

“The Urbana Park District is fortunate to have over 117 years of working with our residents to plant and care for multitudes of park trees in our community,” said Timothy Bartlett, Urbana Park District Executive Director. “We are grateful for the state-wide research and information provided by Prairie Rivers Network regarding the impact of herbicide use on our urban forest. It is hard to imagine parks in Urbana without these magnificent trees. Working together we can all help preserve our trees for future generations.”

Over the coming weeks, a new network of artists and community members will come together to spread awareness of the herbicide pollution problem we face. The awareness campaign includes the distribution of Save Our Trees yard signs, circulating posters with local businesses, commissioning and creating public art, and tying burlap ribbons to trees throughout Champaign-Urbana to build community awareness and momentum to demand our leaders’ attention. 

A quick summary of April’s Save Our Trees awareness activities in Champaign-Urbana:

2024 Boneyard Arts Festival – Save Our Trees Press Conference and Public Art Activation, Carle Park, April 12, 1:30 pm, with PRN’s Director of Ecological Health, Kim Erndt-Pitcher, Urbana Mayor Diane Wolfe Marlin, Executive Director of Urbana Park District, Tim Barlett. 

2024 Boneyard Arts Festival – Save Our Trees art exhibition at the Regroup Art Collective Show, April 12, 5-7pm, and April 13, 11am-7pm, 119 E. University Ave, Champaign. 

🌳Save Our Trees benefit concert with Chicago-based artist Nathan Graham at the historic Rose Bowl Tavern in Urbana on Arbor Day, April 26, doors open at 8pm, show at 8:30pm. Nathan Graham is a Chicago native who meshes South Side Blues with Nashville Americana. He will be supported by local band the Merry Travelers. Tickets are available on our website

Executive Editor

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