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Nov 21, 2022

Six members of the Urban Forestry Commission were appointed by Council at the Monday-night meeting. The seventh, Councilmember Jenny Spencer, is a direct Council President appointment.

“Cleveland City Council members are deeply committed and engaged around the Cleveland Tree Plan,” said Councilmember Spencer. “I’m proud to represent council as a member of the commission to advance public policies to protect and increase our tree canopy.”

The 15-member Urban Forestry Commission, with eight members appointed by the mayor and seven appointed by council, brings back a similar commission that existed in the 1990s but stopped operating in the early 2000s. Council members Brian Kazy and Kerry McCormack had worked for two years to reestablish the commission.  

Council’s appointments are:

  • Grai Oleksy - a certified arborist
  • Mikal Jeanbaptiste - developer with completed Cleveland projects
  • Daniel Leamon - city resident representative
  • Roger Tokars -  city resident representative
  • Samira Malone - non-profit representative of an organization that advocates for preservation or enhancement of urban forests, wildlife habitat, or similar natural systems
  • Divya Sridhar - non-profit representative of an organization that advocates for preservation or enhancement of urban forests, wildlife habitat, or similar natural systems

“Restoring and protecting Cleveland’s tree canopy is important,” said Council President Blaine A. Griffin. “We are the ‘Forest City’ and we need to preserve that and I know Councilmember Spencer is committed to this effort.”

Council does not need to approve the Mayor’s appointments, which have not yet been selected. The Urban Forestry Commission may make policy recommendations to the mayor and council to better maintain and grow the city’s tree canopy. Cleveland’s tree canopy has been on the decline for decades.

The commission will work with city departments to reduce tree loss and damage, help educate residents about proper care, and foster more tree-related collaboration among city departments. The legislation, Ord. No. 702-2020, to reestablish the commission passed Council in June of this year.