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FREE trees!

Oak Leaves After Rain copyOak leaves after rain

By Ruth Seward

The Worcester Tree Initiative has a new project that will get free trees to people in Quinsigamond Village and Main South.  In partnership with the Blackstone Headwater’s Coalition, the Environmental Protection Agency  and the City of Worcester, we will be planting trees in the Main South and Quinsigamond Village neighborhoods to help reduce flooding problems in those areas and to restore our waterways and the Blackstone River to  healthier conditions. Both Quinsigamond Village and Main South will receive 50 public or private trees.  These trees will be given away to residents to be planted at their homes, planted in front of businesses with space or planted in other public places in the community that might benefit from having new trees.

If you are interested in a tree please contact the Worcester Tree Initiative by emailing us at staff@treeworcester.org or leaving a message on our office phone @508-752-1980.

Worcester Tree Initiative has taken on several new projects this spring that have benefitted the residents of Worcester.  The first was our seven week long Worcester Boys and Girls Club educational program where we taught youth principles of stewardship, leadership, and advocacy in the urban forest thanks to a grant provided by the Alliance for Community Trees. The second was the Arbor Day Celebration at Green Hill Park where we partnered with the American Chestnut Foundation, the City of Worcester, the Green Hill Park Coalition, and the Worcester Garden Club to plant 15 blight resistant American Chestnut trees.  We have also planted another community orchard at Ascentria’s New Lands Farm where many Worcester refugee families farm their own food.  These projects along with the newest project in Quinsigamond Village and Main South, help keep a healthy urban forest in and around Worcester.

Trees are important in both a forest and a city.  They give off oxygen and reduce carbon dioxide in our air.  Studies show that urban areas with more trees have lower crime rates and better health.   More trees in a city mean increased property values, increased health benefits, decreased air pollution and decreased energy usage.   People linger by stores and restaurants that are surrounded by trees so business increases in establishments on tree lined streets.   Residents go outside more when more trees are part of the landscape.  Trees are a low maintenance alternative, once they have been established. They also reduce storm water runoff, or rain water that does not soak into the ground.

Storm water runoff is a big problem in cities because we have so many impermeable surfaces like rooftops, roads, parking lots, and sidewalks. Water can’t soak through these surfaces so it runs off somewhere else sometimes causing floods.  Streets close as they become waterlogged and impossible to drive through.   Basements can fill with water when there’s a crack in the foundation. Because of the massive amounts of impervious surfaces the urban environment can be overloaded by water of large storms and we get left with a big mess.

Besides creating flooding conditions, stormwater runoff carries with it pollutants and road debris as it travels to city drains.   Pollutants like excess fertilizers and pesticides, pet waste, bacteria, grease and oil, and heavy metals from brakes and rusts infiltrate our water treatment system or in some cases, drain directly into our natural waterways.   Over time such pollution accumulates and becomes a major problem for anything that lives in, drinks, or swims in that water.

All of the water in Worcester eventually finds its way to the Blackstone River, the head of which sits in Quinsigamond Village. Pollution of Worcester’s waterways has been a major contributor to pollution of the Blackstone River since before the Industrial Revolution. That pollution, along with contributions from every other smaller watershed along the way, has led to the devastation of Narragansett Bay.

More and more, urban planners and urban engineers throughout the United States are looking to set the urban equation straight by utilizing green infrastructure wherever they can. Parking lots no longer need to be impenetrable solid roads where pools of water and ice create hazards for pedestrians and drivers.  Instead they can include drainage options and vegetation components to eliminate surface pooling. City landscapes can include plants and trees, which enhance the beauty of the city while creating places for storm water to go thereby reducing  flooding in our streets and pollution in our waterways.

Trees are a big part of storm water interception. They absorb gallons of water through their roots systems.  Tree canopies capture and store rainfall then release water into the atmosphere, preventing it from becoming waste water.  Tree roots and leaf litter also create soil conditions that promote the infiltration of rainwater into the soil. The closer we can get to imitating nature in the city, by reducing impermeable surfaces and letting water soak into the ground, the cleaner and healthier our waterways will be. In fact, some of the cleanest water in the world comes from the Quabbin Reservoir, which is the water supply for Boston. The water that the trees and soil naturally filter goes into the Quabbin and when it gets to Boston it needs little filtering before it goes to people’s sinks!

A great way to get trees into the city landscape is to plant them in people’s yards.  Even small yards can be good places for small trees. Trees thrive when planted in areas where they have room for their roots to grow and where they are treated with care.

The Worcester Tree Initiative in partnership with the Blackstone Headwaters Coalition, the Environmental Protection Agency and the City of Worcester, is looking for 100 tree planting sites in  Main South and the Quinsigamond Village throughout the spring and fall.  We are looking for 50 spots where people want city trees planted in their front yard or in the grass strip along the sidewalk and 50 spots where people would like to plant a tree somewhere else in their yard.  So far – close to 50 locations have been identified and we are eager to finish our project by mid June.  Please contact the Worcester Tree Initiative by email: staff@treeworcester.org or by phone: 508-752-1800.  We are happy to get trees into your neighborhood!

This project has been made possible through the partnership of the City of Worcester, Worcester Tree Initiative and the Blackstone Headwaters Coalition and has been funded through a Healthy Communities grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.  The purpose of the project is to plant trees to make the Blackstone River healthier and to reduce flooding after storms in Worcester.

From the Worcester Tree Initiative

Summer Staff Taking on Big Projects!

Thanks to funding from Massport we’ve been lucky to bring in great summer interns and summer Young Adult Forestry youth.  They have a big impact on the work we do.

In the past we have had interns skilled in mapping, office management, database creation, design and research. And we always have a great project for our interns to work on. Some help with giveaways, some help create presentations, others have helped with our media. Last year if you were a tree recipient, you may remember getting an email or phone call asking you to tell us how your trees were doing. That information helps us to understand the progress we’ve made.

This summer we’re bringing on four interns to help us with some ambitious projects. Amanda LaFrance is an intern coming to us from Westfield State University. She will be leading our Street Tree Inventory project in the Burncoat and Greendale neighborhoods. We are specifically looking at trees planted along the street. We’re looking at both the trees planted in the past six years and also the older trees which remain as a legacy in some areas.

Amanda will be accompanied by two returning interns, Patrick Shea, who will be attending Yale University in the fall, and Jackson Fulk-Logon who attends Tufts University. Jackson and Patrick will help Amanda collect data some days, but they will also be helping us with other projects. One of these projects: inspecting the sidewalks to be resurfaced and checking for potential conflicts with existing trees.

 Our fourth intern is Gilbert M. , a South High School student who is returning to us for another summer. He’s on the Young Adult Foresters team. As you know, the Young Adult Foresters are a team dedicated to the care of newly planted trees around the city.

Worcester’s Forestry Dept. has planted several hundred trees in Worcester each year for the past six years. The young Adult Foresters have worked hard to ensure that each tree has a chance to thrive.

We’re excited about bringing each of these young men and women on to be part of our new team, and we owe our gratitude to Massport which has supported the program since the inception of the Young Adult Foresters five years ago.

The Blackstone Headwaters Tree Project

EPA Awards $25,000 for Blackstone Headwaters Tree Project  

A Healthy Communities Grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency will go to the Blackstone Headwaters Coalition and partnering organization the Worcester Tree Initiative, for their “Stormwater Benefit of Trees” project.  This project will engage residents of two Worcester neighborhoods to reduce flooding and stormwater impacts to Worcester’s waterways and the Blackstone River.  One hundred trees will be planted, split between the Main South and Quinsigamond Village neighborhoods; education and outreach will be provided on the benefits of trees, water quality information, and the impact of stormwater on water quality.

Other project partners include the Main South Community Development Corporation (MSCDC),  the Quinsigamond Village Community Center (QVCC) and the City of Worcester Department of Public Works and Parks.  

“I’m so pleased that the EPA has recognized this project as a dynamic partnership that will have lasting impacts on environmental justice neighborhoods and on the Blackstone and its headwater tributaries,” said Congressman Jim McGovern.  “Out of 70 submissions, this is one of only 14 community-based projects funded by the grant.  That speaks to the great work being done in Central Massachusetts.”

Following extensive outreach efforts, interested residents will pick from a list of available and recommended trees to plant as either street trees or private trees.  As Worcester is in the Asian Longhorned Beetle quarantine zone, no ALB host species will be included in the available species to be planted list. Recipients of the trees will receive a) one-on-one training on how to plant and care for the tree(s); b) educational  information about how trees help reduce localized flooding and stormwater volume into the storm sewer and thereby help the Blackstone River; c) general information about water quality and the impact of stormwater on water quality; d) an understanding of Worcester’s waterways including the lakes and ponds where they swim, the Blackstone River and its watershed e) benefits that trees bring to an urban neighborhood including shade, reduction of energy costs, stress reduction, reduction of heat island effect; f) other stormwater best management practices such as picking up dog poop, redirecting down spouts, washing vehicles on vegetated areas, etc.

The Blackstone Headwaters Coalition strives to engage citizens, businesses, environmental organizations, and municipal and state officials in the active stewardship of water resources in headwater streams of the Blackstone River.   

From The Worcester Tree Initiative …

Join Congressman Jim McGovern … [and guests] as we celebrate the planting of our 30,000th tree! We are proud to say that we have accomplished that goal!

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Worcester Tree Initiative, Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), City of Worcester, and other agencies, we’ve met the goal, and 30,000 trees have been planted!!

To thank everyone who has helped us reach this milestone we will have a celebration on Monday, Oct 6,  9:30 am at Burncoat High School (179 Burncoat St.) – located in the heart of the ALB infestation area and the site of our very first Giveaway on April 25 2009.

Refreshments by Culinary Arts students from Worcester Technical High School will be provided.

The event will be accompanied by music from Burncoat High Students’ Quadrivium Chorus and String Ensemble along with a routine from the school’s Color Guard.

There is also a student art exhibit. Information from our local environmental groups will be provided at our tabling area.

The Celebration will be followed by an optional 30-minute bus tour of Reforested Burncoat and Greendale neighborhoods, courtesy of WRTA (RSVP required). Please join us as we celebrate this momentous achievement and thank you for your continuous support!

From The Worcester Tree Initiative! Fill out the TREE survey!

Initial Estimates of Tree Health In!

More Responses Needed!

Last month we began sending out a survey concerning tree health to all of our tree recipients. Of the people who received the email about 10% have responded. Thus far our results are heavily weighted by recipients who report that their trees are doing very well, which we have happily been able to confirm in large part through an in person check with some respondents. But even if your trees aren’t doing well, we still want to hear from you. Each person’s experience helps us to learn more about how to improve our tree giveaway program.

So whether you came to the first giveaway at Burncoat High School on April 25, 2009, or the most recent giveaway at Worcester State University, or any of the giveaways in between we want to hear from you. It has been a joy to see the oldest trees really starting to take hold and getting big. It is also understandable that not every tree survives and we need that information as well. So please answer the survey if you haven’t already. On average it takes about 5 minutes to complete. Please follow the link below and fill in the information as well as you can.

And for those of you who have filled out the survey; thank you so much! Your input has been so valuable to our program. With it we’re coming to understand how well our trees are doing, what we’ve done well, and what we can change for the better.

Click on … Tree Condition Survey

Worcester’s Arbor Day celebration and tree planting at North High School – Friday, May 2!

Friday, May 2, 10 AM

Worcester will be celebrating Arbor Day with a ceremony and tree planting on Friday, May 2nd at North High School.

Beginning at 8 am, students from the Life Skills and AP Environmental classes will help unload the truck, dig holes, and plant trees.

WTI trainers will demonstrate the appropriate techniques for planting a tree and supervise students. Eleven Bald Cypress and ten Black Gum trees will be planted in the 3 parking lot islands.

Speaking Agenda will begin at 10:00AM, followed by a ceremonial tree planting:
10:00 – Welcome – Lisa Dyer, Principal, North High
Speakers include: City Manager Ed Augustus, Senator Harriette Chandler, WTI Co-chair Mary Knittle, Isaiah Sierra (student representative), Frankie Franco (student representative)
10:45 Ceremonial Tree Planting
11:00 – 1:00 Planting demonstrations and tree planting