|Pittsfield Highlights Tree Planting Program To Honor Arbor Day|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
05:00PM / Friday, April 27, 2018
|Another tree was planted in Wellsley Park on Friday in honor of Arbor Day.|
Laurie Reid outlined the state's Greening the Gateway Cities program.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The state has planted more than 1,100 trees throughout the city over the last two years.
And, in honor of Arbor Day, one more was added to the total.
"At the end of 2017, Pittsfield, so far, has been planted with 1,173 trees through the Greening the Gateway Cities program. Statewide, Greening the Gateway Cities program last year has planted 11,637 trees," Laurie Reid, a forester with the Department of Conservation and Recreation, said.
"The program's goal is to plant 10 trees per acre within our planting area. It will increase the urban tree canopy by 5 to 10 percent."
"Cities on average are hotter than rural areas. Asphalt and concrete structures absorb the sun's energy and radiate the heat into the surrounding areas, which increases the air's temperature. This increase in heat is accelerating many of our nation's health problems such as asthma. Planting trees are the best way to combat urban heat islands because trees have a higher potential to cool our climate and reduce carbon dioxide," Reid said.
Reid said heating and cooling costs can drop as much as $230 per household with the additions. In the summer, the shade helps cool the area and in the winter, it blocks the wind from whistling through homes. She added that the trees are sound barriers, provide habitat for wildlife, prevents stormwater runoff from bringing toxins into the streams, increases property values by 5 to 15 percent and there have even been reductions in crime noted in areas with more trees.
The program recognizes the importance urban trees play in the environment and attempts to reverse the declining number of urban trees.
"Tree canopy in our urban areas has been decreasing. Large, mature trees are being replaced with smaller species if they are being replaced at all. But the more mature the tree, the greater the benefit," Reid said.
Reid was the keynote speaker at the city's Arbor Day celebration. When she finished, yet another tree was added to those totals when foresters put in a brand new tree at Wellesley Park.
Wellesley Park, which is a small park in a residential neighborhood near Herberg Middle School, is seeing a number of new trees being planted in it after neighbors had petitioned the city for more. According to Parks and Open Spaces Manager James McGrath, that's not the first time neighbors have asked the city for help with those trees. McGrath held up a petition from 1980 when the neighbors asked for and received help maintaining the Silver Maples in the park.
In 2015, the group returned to the city asking for more trees to be planted there.
"After that meeting in 2015, we wrote a grant, got some money and planted 10 trees," McGrath. "In a few weeks, in early June, we hope to plant another seven more trees in the park. This is an initiative, from the city's perspective, that we are happy to be a part of. This is a great little park."
McGrath also used part of Friday's ceremony to thank volunteers who assist throughout the park system - not just at Wellesley.
City Council President Peter Marchetti read a proclamation on behalf of the city celebrating Arbor Day.