Letter: Funding approval big boost to Regreening, Urban Forest

To the editor:

Regreening Greenfield would like to join Jim Matthews in his praise of the Greenfield “City Council for its foresight in spending public dollars” (“Greenfield’s money to charities well spent,” Aug. 20, A4) to support 11 organizations in our community. We wholeheartedly add our thanks to the council and Mayor Fewell. RG (Regreening Greenfield) feels the great responsibility placed on us by this vote of major support of our mission to grow our Urban Forest.

Regreening Greenfield (facebook.com/RegreeningGfield) has been in existence for approximately 28 years, having grown out of a citizens’ task force established by Mayor Keith McClarnon. Greenfield residents might know us by our annual Arbor Day free seedling giveaway, during which we distribute between 800 to 1,200 tree seedlings each April. Our greater mission, and one not as well known, is to plant “street trees.”

In these 28 years, RG has planted about 1,500 street trees in Greenfield, funded largely through grants, donations, in-kind donations and City Council allocations. For the 2016 and 2017 budgets, our City Council responded to the information we presented indicating that Greenfield has lost approximately 43 percent of its street trees in the last 10 years — or an average of 41 trees per year. Primarily, aging of our larger trees and the devastation of ash trees by the emerald ash borer have accounted for these losses. A smaller, but still significant, number of trees have been killed by mower and string trimmer damage.

By the end of the 2016 planting season alone, RG will have planted about 169 trees since spring of 2012. We anticipate adding approximately 80 more in 2017. We are aware of the burden of care that puts on us to see that the trees are nurtured to a healthy maturity. RG is more than grateful to our wonderful parks department superintendent, Ellen Kuker, and to Jim McWhinney, head of maintenance, and his crew, without whose full support and work we would be severely limited in actually planting and watering the trees. We are also excited about the growing partnerships with Power and Light and other city departments.

These ties will make it more likely that Greenfield will have a healthy Urban Forest that will be beautiful, attract new residents and businesses, take up storm water, reduce cooling costs, and clean our air because we have planted “the Right Trees in the Right Way in the Right Places.”

Thank you, Greenfield City Council and Mayor Fewell. Thank you, Mr. Matthews, for your support.

Sally Parsons

Regreening Greenfield