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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Don’t Staple Flyers To Trees In Chicago Unless You Want To Damage (Or Kill) Trees

A longtime Logan Square resident and tree advocate helped plant many trees in the area, and personally removes harmful staples when he can.

Longtime Palmer Square Park resident and tree advocate Steve Hier was "flabbergasted" to find flyers stapled to about a half dozen trees along The 606 this week.
Mina Bloom / Block Club Chicago
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LOGAN SQUARE — It’s probably the last thing on anyone’s mind when they’re searching for their lost pet or trying to unload some unwanted stuff, but a Logan Square crusader is trying to get the message out: Don’t staple flyers to trees.

That’s because it’s a good way to cause serious damage to trees.

Punctures — however small they may be — make trees more vulnerable to disease and pests, according to Chicago Park District spokeswoman Michele Lemons. They also disrupt the tree’s circulatory system and growth zone, she said.

Stapling a flyer to a tree is like stapling one to your skin, according to a New York City-based expert. He compared the bark of a tree to skin in that it’s a “protective layer for all the important stuff housed inside,” writes Patch reporter Mary Bakija.

“If you get a hole in your skin, bad things can happen, and the same goes for a tree that gets a hole in its bark,” Bakija writes.

Earlier this week, longtime Palmer Square Park resident and tree advocate Steve Hier was “flabbergasted” to find a staple job along The 606 that could cost the trail at least four trees.

The owners of a lost dog named Lucy put up the flyers everywhere along the trail and in the surrounding area — many of them with staples — in a desperate attempt to find their pup.

Lucy’s owners were reached, but declined to comment.

“I have all the sympathy and empathy in the world for people who lose a dog, but please people,” Hier said.

“We fight so hard to keep trees and have trees planted, and by shooting these long staples into these newer trees that have very thin skins, they can be damaged and killed,” he added.

According to the Chicago Park District code, no person is allowed to disturb or fasten anything to a tree growing in a park district-maintained area.

It might come as a surprise to folks who regularly put up flyers, but the city’s municipal code (10-8-320) is even stricter: No person is allowed to post “commercial advertising material” by means of sticking, tacking, painting, etc. to virtually anything in the public way, including lampposts, railings and columns, to name a few.

For this, the city can impose stiff fines of no less than $200 and no more than $1,000 per offense, according to the code.

Lost dog flyers, however, don’t apply, according to a Chicago Police spokeswoman. So while stapling lost dog flyers to trees technically isn’t allowed in Chicago, it’s not a fineable offense.

As a longtime member of the Palmer Square Park Homeowners Association, Hier said he’s helped plant hundreds of trees in Palmer Square since buying his home off the park in 1978.

“When I moved here, there were hardly any trees,” he said.

As such, Hier said he’s made it his mission to protect the trees in the neighborhood, particularly after the devastation caused by the Emerald Ash Borer beetle.

He’s even taken to removing some of the staples himself.

“Around Palmer Square, I have taken a screwdriver and removed lots of staples, but I have a lot more to go,” he said.

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