A western Massachusetts city that lost a considerable number of trees during storms last year has been awarded a state grant to help re-green. WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.
The Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Ed Lambert, announced a $23,500 Urban Forestry Grant award to Chicopee on Friday. The grant, which requires a 50-50 match, means Chicopee will have $47,000 to spend to develop an urban forest management plan.
Trees play a critical role in reducing pollution, managing storm water run off , regulating temperature and reducing energy costs. There is also the aesthetic impact that can affect property values and the quality of life in urban neighborhoods.
The state awarded five Urban Forestry Grants in this latest round, totaling just over $109,000. Chicopee was the only city in western Massachusetts to receive one. The grants have been given out since the 1980s with funding from the U.S. Forest Service and a state trust fund.
The city of Chicopee, while not directly in the path of the June 1, 2011 tornadoes, sustained tree damage none the less. Later that summer, more trees were lost when a micro-burst hit. And, still more tree losses resulted from the big snow storm in late October last year. The city’s Superintendent of Public Works, Stanley Kulig estimates the loss to number in the hundreds of trees.
Kulig said the city will work through the winter and into next spring to create a computerized map detailing where all the trees are and where trees should be.
Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonnette said the city is hoping to develop its own tree farm to grow its own replacement trees
The mayor said the tree farm could be located on land near the city’s wastewater treatment plant along the Connecticut River.