Tag Archives: The Worcester Tree Initiative

Piedmont’s Peace Park – always in style!


Worcester Tree Initiative news …

Saturday, April 23

We invite you to come help clean up an inner-city park, The Peace Park, at the corner of Winslow street and Pleasant streets!

Our faithful Tree Steward Karen Carreiro is a Master Gardener and she tends to the park throughout the year.

We want to help her get the park into tip top shape for spring by picking up trash and cleaning up the trees as needed.

We hope you’ll join us at 9 a.m. on the 23rd to help!

For more information, call the WTI at 508-852-6400

LUK and more parked in Yum Yums …

The 2016 State of Massachusetts Homeless Youth Count is set to take place May 2-15.

The Youth Count is an annual survey intended to capture data about the housing situations of young people throughout the state.

The Compass Network will be hosting a training/preparation session TODAY, Thursday, April 7, from 10am – 11:30am at LUK, Inc. (40 Southbridge St., Rm. 427) to discuss the importance of the Youth Count, provide basic training around administration of the survey and to coordinate a plan to make this year’s count in Worcester a success.

If you want to attend, please RSVP to Tom Baker at tbaker@luk.org.

Tom Baker

RHY Network Coordinator

LUK, Inc.

Worcester Flyer 16.04









And don’t forget: The Worcester Tree Initiative celebrates Arbor Day April 29!


Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree: Pine or Plastic?

By Derek Lirange, Worcester Tree Initiative

Do you feel that chill in the air? Tis the season to deck the halls, listen to holly jolly jingles, and sip cocoa. Ask 10 people what their favorite holiday of the year is and most of them will tell you it’s Christmas! Even though we stress out at malls trying to find the perfect gifts, completely derail our dietary goals, and have to adjust to the cooling temperatures there’s still something magical about this time of year that can’t be overwhelmed.

One of the favorite traditions this time of year is decorating a Christmas tree. It’s a tradition that has a long history with its roots in pagan tradition rather than Christian. Evergreens are a mark of life in a landscape of leafless trees and many religions would celebrate that life by bringing evergreen branches and trees into their homes. According to The History Channel’s History of Christmas Trees the practice became popularized for Christians when Queen Victoria of England encouraged her husband, a German who had been raised decorating a tree each winter with his family, to bring the tradition to into their home. The masses caught on and the rest is history!

Decorating trees remains a favorite tradition but now we have the choice, do you buy a real tree each year? Or should you invest in a plastic tree, which are becoming increasingly realistic looking, even up close? The issue can be polarizing with people taking strong stances for both sides. Those for real trees argue that there’s nothing that can replace the look and smell of the real deal, and there’s a certain sentimentality to going out and picking the perfect tree. Proponents of fake trees like the ease of setting the tree up, the fact that they don’t have to water the tree, or vacuum up needles, or find a way to dispose of the tree at the end of the season. Additionally, some might argue that cutting trees down is bad for the environment! We’re talking about millions of trees a year that get cut down.

As tree people you might thing that we here are Worcester Tree Initiative are proponents of fake trees however the issue isn’t so clear as it may seem. Consider that Christmas tree farms are a business, for every tree they cut down they have to plant another tree in order to have more to sell in the years to come. Furthermore, plastic trees do eventually need to be replaced, meaning more plastic in landfills that won’t degrade for thousands of years, and I personally take issue with that. Natural Christmas trees biodegrade. In Worcester they become part of the municipal compost which is free to Worcester residents and available at the yard waste facility on Millbury Street.

Personally, I like real trees, I grew up picking out a real tree with my family and I’d like to continue the tradition with a wife and kids of my own some day. But, admittedly, there are a lot of good reasons to go with a plastic tree. Whichever you choose I hope you love your tree and that it brings you joy each time you look at it.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Worcester Tree Initiative!

Worcester’s Certified Urban Tree Stewards Program Kickoff Event: Saturday, October 24!

By Ruth Seward

Help us Help our Trees!

Worcester’s Certified Urban Tree Stewards Program
Kickoff Event

Saturday, October 24

8 am – 10 am
Highland House

5 Suburban Road, Worcester

We are looking for individuals who will help us in their neighborhoods to care for more than 6,000 street trees planted over the past six years.  We need help with the following tasks:
watering during the first two years when the trees are establishing themselves;

regular mulching to keep the soil around the trees weed free and nutritionally rich;

removing stakes once the trees have strong enough roots to stay anchored on their own;

setting out gators in the spring for optimal summer watering;
removing gators during the fall to prevent damage to trees over the winter;

pruning broken branches;
identifying dead or severely damaged trees;

recording and reporting the overall health of the trees.
Trees have been shown to improve air quality, reduce energy usage, reduce storm water runoff and improve health and crime conditions in an urban setting. 

Trees increase property values and make a city more attractive for all residents.  They are a valuable asset to our community, worth the investment of time and resources to keep them healthy. Taking care of urban trees and educating the community on the importance of trees are two common challenges faced in urban communities throughout our country. 

Worcester’s Forestry staff spends much of their work day responding to problems created by mature trees.  They do not have scheduled time to spend on routine care measures to keep young public trees in the best structural health possible. This problem is not unique to Worcester. City arborists and foresters across the country are turning to help from well trained, committed resident volunteers to assist with basic tree care and preventative tree care measures for young trees.

Since WTI was established in 2009 we have involved residents on a volunteer basis to help water and care for the thousands of newly planted public trees. For the past six years we have recruited hundreds of residents to take on “tree steward” responsibilities for public trees at various levels of commitment. 

If you are a person interested in trees – please join us in this city wide effort. The different levels of Tree Stewards allows people to help as much or as little as their schedule allows.

Certified Tree Steward Training will include an 8 module 16 hour training program and regular meeting programs throughout the year.  Tasks for these people include vital data collection and tree health management.

The most highly trained stewards who will be trained an additional 4 hours, will participate on a structural tree pruning team for younger trees which will reduce the number of future hazard trees.

Our goal is to prune 1,000 younger trees each year to keep the urban forest healthy. The Certified Urban Tree Stewards will also increase community awareness about the value of urban trees by working with WTI staff on tree events such as Neighborhood Tree Walks, Neighborhood Tree Training Days, Arbor Day and Earth Day Events.

People who are trained and volunteer for the neighborhood tree stewards program will receive certificates and recognition from the City of Worcester.
Training Topics for 2015-2016:

VALUE OF CITIZEN SCIENTISTS, using examples from programs from throughout the US: SEE PROGRAMS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
SAFETY TRAINING: Using the right tools and using them properly

Identifying structural problems
Health problems/diseases/pests

The Importance of Soil
Right Tree Right Place
Container vs B&B planting


Using San Francisco 5 step tree pruning guide
Supervised hands on pruning
Why “tree topping is a bad practice

Join us if you are interested in urban trees! 

Ruth Seward is the director of the Worcester Tree Initiative.

Go, Worcester Tree Initiative, go!!!!


WTI – aka “The Tree People” – in action!

My name is Derek Lirange and I work for the Worcester Tree Initiative (WTI). People often affectionately refer to us as ‘the tree people’. WTI has been working to help Worcester recover from the Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation discovered in 2009. Over the course of the past five years we have worked together with the City of Worcester and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation to replant 30,000 trees. We have worked alongside numerous community partners to achieve this goal and in October 2014 the goal was met by planting the 30,000th tree at Burncoat High School, in one of the most greatly affected neighborhoods in Worcester.

Besides the mission to replant 30,000 trees, Worcester Tree Initiative has also been committed to educating people about the importance of trees to their community. Many people never realized the importance of trees in their neighborhood until the trees were removed. Worcester Tree Initiative organizes public training events, goes to schools to teach students, and shares the many benefits of trees with the community. Looking ahead we will continue with this mission and we hope that Worcester will become a city full of ‘tree people’!

With this goal in mind we are particularly excited about working on the CSX Youth Tree Stewards Grant, which we received from the Alliance for Community Trees. This grant has given us the opportunity to partner with the Boys and Girls Club of Worcester to teach youth from the inner city about the importance of trees and how to care for them. We will have seven sessions with the youth in the program, and each session will focus on a particular theme, stewardship, leadership, or advocacy. By working with the same kids over the course of seven weeks we will have the special opportunity of forming relationships and watching them learn. Our hope is that at the end of this program these youth will know more about what ‘tree people’ do and why it is important, and hopefully be inspired to do that work too.

Before we get there though we have a few obstacles to overcome. The Athletic Director at the Boys and Girls Club, Ruben Rosado, told us that most of the kids he spends his time with have never cared for a plant but they do spend a lot of time playing video games or watching TV. He tends to houseplants and has planted gardens around his home. He has found an enormous sense of satisfaction from watching his plants flourish and eating the fruits of his labor. He strongly supports the Youth Tree Stewards program because sees it as a chance for kids to “get away from technology and into nature.”

That is a chance that some inner city youth do not often get. We played a little game together during our first class and I found that many of our kids had never planted a tree, climbed a tree, or hiked through the woods. I know that coming from a suburb I had different opportunities than these youth do, but I cannot help but feel they are missing out. I would not be a tree person today if it were not for my regular walks in the woods.

In lieu of a field trip in 30-degree weather we had to find a way to show these kids how amazing trees are. So we told them about some of the most incredible trees in the world. Students found it incredible that the widest tree in the world, at more than 46 feet in diameter, is nearly as wide as a basketball court. They used a measuring tape to see just how big the tallest tree in the world is. For your information it is nearly twice as tall as the Boys and Girls Club building is long, it is 387 feet tall! And they could hardly believe that the oldest tree in the world, a nearly 5,000-year-old tree, is older than the Great Pyramid of Giza. By the end of class each student’s jaw had dropped at least once, it was a good way to kick the program off.

This was just the appetizer though; as the weather gets nicer we will start spending more of our time outside and connecting students to nature. This connection is a critical piece of getting people to see the value of nature. As I said before, many people do not realize the importance of a city’s urban forest. Trees and parks are usually thought of as amenities, not necessities; they are not seen as part of the infrastructure. But trees are not just for decoration and they do more than give us oxygen. Trees promote greater health, save people money, produce food, and green spaces within the city protect the natural world outside of the city.

For example, a large tree that casts shade on a house will cool the house down and reduce the need for air conditioning. This reduces energy costs and also avoids energy use, which results in fewer emissions. That same tree will intercept rainwater on its way to the sewer, slowing the water on its way to rivers and streams. This helps to stabilize these water bodies and keeps them clean for aquatic life and for people who want to swim, boat, or fish. Trees clean the air, which in cities can be very dirty and lead to poor respiratory health. And of course, some trees produce fruit, which you might have as a healthy snack or harvest for sale. Worcester Tree Initiative has planted numerous urban orchards and fruiting groves for private and public use.

There is also a lot of research connecting trees to health in ways that you would never have expected, like reduced crime rates, higher test grades, and healthier birth weights. The most famous study came out nearly 30 years ago showing that hospital patients with a view of green spaces outside their window recovered faster and took fewer medications than patients whose rooms looked out onto the wall of another building. There is clearly more to trees than meets the eye! Cities need people who understand these benefits to be advocates for the urban forest.

In the Youth Tree Stewards Program we will talk about all of this and we will also give students the skills to be stewards of the environment. In our time together students will learn the basics of tree identification, pruning, and how to plant and care for trees. Together we will plant 5 trees at the Worcester Boys and Girls Club and we will do maintenance on the trees in their parking lot.

The Youth Tree Stewards program will also give students the opportunity to meet professional ‘tree people’. Many people never realize that there is a whole world of opportunities to explore by working with the natural world.

We are very excited to welcome professional arborist Melissa Levangie as a guest speaker to talk about arboriculture. She will be showing students her climbing gear and demonstrating climbing techniques. She teaches with a lot of enthusiasm and whenever she presents people of every age leave excited and talking about what she just taught them. This presentation will be a chance to show young people a set of skills that is totally new to them.

We hope that by showing the Youth Tree Stewards what an arborist does and connecting them to plants and nature they will realize that there are a lot of opportunities for them to work and play outside.  They could be good stewards of the environment as landscapers or arborists and they could be leaders working in a national park or right in the urban forest. There are all sorts of tree people in the world and we want to ensure that urban youth know that they can be tree people too.

This exciting program has just begun and it has already been a lot of fun. The students are engaged, asking questions, and taking part in activities. We will finish up our classroom time in the beginning of May but for the kids in the Youth Tree Stewards program, that may just be the beginning of a very green future.

Meet the Beetles! Again!

But first … a photo by Chef Joey …


2014 verizon phone 1128

And Donna Vayo, owner of Greenwood Street’s FEAR NO ART shop, says: SWEEP AWAY WINTER!



ICT editor Rosalie wearing her winter gear a few weeks ago. SHE IS STILL WEARING HER WINTER GEAR. Hurry, hurry, dappled, dewy spring!



From the Worcester Tree Initiative:

The USDA discovered another Asian Longhorned Beetle “hot spot” in the wooded areas surrounding Green Hill Park.

This  wooded lot has many host trees growing in it which makes it especially difficult to manage.

The Worcester City Manager and Commissioner of DPW consulted with the USDA ALB Eradication Team and approved a full host removal on this city land. The USDA has successfully eradicated ALB in other cities, so they are  considered the experts.

Worcester Tree Initiative, in line with our mission of being advocates of healthy urban forests, supports the administration’s decision for the full host removal in this particular area.

We take this stance because full host removals are the only guaranteed way to eradiate the ALB from an area. While complete recovery will take a long time, these lots will start to reforest themselves right away.

Some Worcester residents and Representatives, weary from bad news, have  questioned this full host removal decision.  People  wonder why we cannot chemically treat these host trees with imidacloprid to try to save them.

Treating chemically, while not a guaranteed option, may be a good option for treasured trees close to a hot spot.  Chicago, New York, and Boston are three cities where appropriate use of imidacloprid has been successful. It is important to keep in mind that in Chicago, the Beetle infested 4,800 trees. In Boston, it infested three trees.   In Worcester, it has affected well over 30,000 trees.

There are a number of environmental concerns around the use of imidicloprid, especially in broad applications.  Some research suggests a potential connection between the chemical and the demise of honey bees in what is being called Colony Collapse Disorder.

Research regarding the Asian Longhorned Beetle and  effective treatments for the insect has been conducted since the pest infestation in Chicago..   This research  includes case studies where ALB has been eradicated.  Studies are being conducted regarding the Asian Longhorned Beetle and its native ecosystem in hopes of creating an environmentally sound way to combat these pests.

Research has been done studying the effectiveness of treating trees with imidacloprid to prevent infestation by the Asian Longhorned Beetle.  And finally, there have been studies regarding the environmental impacts of using imidicloprid on a large scale.

As residents of the city with the largest ALB infestation in the country it is important to educate ourselves and understand the best policies in managing the infestation.

A holiday message from the Worcester Tree Initiative …

Many thanks to all of our partners and supporters. With your help, we met and exceeded our goals:

30,000 Trees Planted in 5 years!

750 Trees Given Away and Planted!

2 New Urban Orchards Planted!

Youth Employed in Tree Care!

We look forward to continuing our work with you in 2015!

– The Worcester Tree Initiative