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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Charlie Baker reports state effort on planting 30,000 trees

Baker-Polito Administration Celebrates 30,000th Greening the Gateway Cities Program Tree Planting

$245,000 Awarded to Support Local Tree Planting Efforts

 Governor Baker, EEA Secretary Theoharides, DCR Commissioner Montgomery, and state and local officials celebrated in Westfield to plant the 30,000th tree supported by the Greening the Gateway Cities Program.

Westfield – As part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s celebration of Climate Week in Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker today joined Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides and state and local officials to plant the milestone 30,000th tree through the Commonwealth’s Greening the Gateway Cities Program in the City of Westfield’s General Shepard Park. Additionally, the Administration announced the award of $245,000 in grants to 14 municipalities and non-profit organizations through the program that will support broader tree planting efforts and build the capacity and partnerships needed to make communities more resilient to climate change. 

“The planting of 30,000 trees by the Greening the Gateway Cities Program serves as a great example of what can be achieved when state government, municipalities, and dedicated non-profit organizations work together on behalf of the public,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This kind of collaboration is more important than ever as we work to address climate change and the increasing heat and storm intensity that comes with it, which is why our Administration has proposed a significant investment in climate resiliency and open space through our federal ARPA spending proposal.”

 “Through this longstanding, successful program, we are expanding green space and improving public health in our underserved communities,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The grants awarded today will help our communities generate local interest and develop a network of community volunteers that will help us pursue a significant expansion of tree canopy that will directly benefit the public now and well into the future.”

The Administration awarded grants to seven non-profit organizations to conduct resident outreach and promote awareness of the program, and seven municipalities to help their public works departments collaborate with the tree planting program.

“As climate change leads to longer and more intense heat waves, programs like Greening the Gateway Cities help us address the urban heat island effect by expanding tree canopy that cleans our air, provides cooling and shade, and makes our neighborhoods more beautiful,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “The Baker-Polito Administration has supported a significant expansion of this successful program since coming into office because it advances critical priorities that we share with our communities, including environmental justice, equity, and using nature-based solutions to make our Gateway Cities more resilient to the impacts of climate change.”

The Greening the Gateway Cities Program (GGCP) is a partnership between the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) Urban & Community Forestry Program, the Department of Energy Resources (DOER), and the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), along with Gateway Cities and local grassroots organizations. Notably, the program utilizes trees to cool neighborhoods and reduce the “urban heat island” effect where large areas of pavement cause significantly hotter living conditions. The tree plantings are also focused within Environmental Justice neighborhoods – areas with over 25% of residents who are low income, minority, or non-English speaking.

DCR foresters work with neighborhood non-profit organizations to help with outreach and community support. Extensive tree planting in local neighborhoods addresses climate justice by giving residents the same access to cool greenspace and shade as other communities. The program also strives to reduce energy use by shading and sheltering neighborhoods and to reduce flooding by soaking up stormwater.

“The Baker-Polito Administration continues to make investments in our state’s natural resources by promoting the Greening the Gateway Cities Program,” said Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Jim Montgomery. “More trees across the Commonwealth will improve the air we breathe, reduce energy consumption, and beautify our neighborhoods.”

Through the Greening the Gateway Cities Program, the state will invest $5 million over the next year in state capital and energy efficiency funds to plant about 8,000 trees averaging six feet in height within fourteen gateway cities. The program will not only produce energy savings, but will also benefit the local economy and create jobs by hiring foresters and tree planting crews from the cities where planting takes place. The program trains crews in proper tree planting and care and many employees find permanent work in the landscaping industry.  The GGCP is expected to yield more than twice the investment made by the Administration in energy cost saving for residents and businesses as the trees mature.

“On behalf of the people of Westfield I would like to thank the Baker Administration, Secretary Theoharides and Commissioner Montgomery for their dedication to greening our older communities,” said Westfield Mayor Don Humason. “I’d like to congratulate the Commonwealth on this important milestone of 30,000 trees planted as part of the Greening the Gateway Cities program. Westfield is proud of its yearly designation as a Tree City and delighted to be a part of this vibrant program.”

“The Greening the Gateway Cities Program has brought new trees and enormous benefits to urban residential areas across our entire Commonwealth,” said State Senator John Velis (D-Westfield). “With increased tree canopy cover, communities like Westfield can reduce household heating and cooling energy use and can provide cleaner air, water, and an overall better quality of life for residents. General Shepard Park and our entire Westfield community will benefit from the trees being planted today for years to come.”

“The trees in our city are such a great asset, and I'm thankful that we’re able to bring in more green to brighten up the community,” said State Representative Kelly Pease (R-Westfield).

With a defined goal to increase the urban tree canopy to 5-10 percent in select neighborhoods in each Gateway City, the program is expected to reduce heating and cooling costs by approximately $230 a year for an average household once the trees reach maturity. To date, the program has planted almost 30,000 trees in 18 Gateway Cities – the equivalent of adding 550 acres, or nearly one square mile, of new forest to these cities. Residents who sign-up for the GGCP will be provided planted trees at no cost as long as they commit to watering the trees for two years. 

The seven municipalities and seven non-profits receiving awards are:

Grant Awardees: FY22 Greening the Gateway Cities Municipal Grant Program

Municipality

Project Name

Project Description

Total Grant Request

Chelsea

Public Tree Planting Support

Installation of catch basin tree pits to mitigate stormwater runoff.

$20,000

Fall River

Public Tree Planting Support

Preparing street tree belt sites for new plantings by removing pavement and stumps, adding soil and mulch.

$20,000

Leominster

Public Tree Planting Support

Preparing street tree belt sites for new plantings by removing pavement and stumps, adding soil and mulch; Watering recently planted trees and restoring vacant lots to prepare for tree planting.

$20,000

Lowell

Public Tree Planting Support

Preparing street tree belt sites for new plantings by removing pavement and stumps, adding soil and mulch; Watering recently planted trees.

$20,000

Lynn

Public Tree Planting Support

Preparing street tree belt sites for new plantings by removing pavement and stumps, adding soil and mulch; Watering recently planted trees.

$20,000

Salem

Public Tree Planting Support

Preparing street tree belt sites for new plantings by removing pavement and stumps, adding soil and mulch; Watering recently planted trees.

$20,000

Westfield

Public Tree Planting Support

Preparing street tree belt sites for new plantings by removing pavement and stumps, adding soil and mulch; Watering recently planted trees.

$20,000

Total

 

 

$140,000

Grant Awardees: FY2022 Greening the Gateway Cities Non-Profit Grant Program

NGO

Project Name

Project Description

Total Grant Request

Fall River Street Tree Planting Program

Outreach, Tree Education and Care

Conduct outreach and distribute GGCP materials to residents in the planting zone; conduct tree education and care programs with residents, train tree stewards and ambassadors.

$15,000

Groundwork Lawrence - Haverhill

Outreach, Tree Education and Care

Conduct outreach and distribute GGCP materials to residents in the planting zone; conduct tree education and care programs with residents, train tree stewards and ambassadors.

$15,000

Growing Places - Leominster

Outreach, Tree Education and Care

Conduct outreach and distribute GGCP materials to residents in the planting zone; conduct tree education and care programs with residents, train tree stewards and ambassadors and restore vacant lots to prepare for tree planting.

$15,000

Growing Places - Fitchburg

Outreach, Tree Education and Care

Conduct outreach and distribute GGCP materials to residents in the planting zone; conduct tree education and care programs with residents, train tree stewards and ambassadors.

$15,000

Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust

Outreach, Tree Education and Care

Conduct outreach and distribute GGCP materials to residents in the planting zone; conduct tree education and care programs with residents, train tree stewards and ambassadors.

$15,000

Salem Sound Coastwatch

Outreach, Tree Education and Care

Conduct outreach and distribute GGCP materials to residents in the planting zone; conduct tree education and care programs with residents, train tree stewards and ambassadors.

$15,000

Valley Opportunities Council - Chicopee

Outreach, Tree Education and Care

Conduct outreach and distribute GGCP materials to residents in the planting zone; conduct tree education and care programs with residents, train tree stewards and ambassadors.

$15,000

Total

 

 

$105,000

During this year’s Climate Week in Massachusetts, the Baker-Polito Administration is highlighting its commitment to reducing emissions, mitigating the impacts of climate change, and building a more resilient Commonwealth. Throughout Climate Week, the Administration is holding events to spotlight important initiatives including offshore wind, land protection and conservation, the Greening the Gateway Cities program, and the expansion of clean energy in the Commonwealth. The Administration is also highlighting the urgent demand for funding to support climate resiliency in Massachusetts, and Governor Baker’s plan to immediately put to use part of Commonwealth’s direct federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support critical priorities in cities and towns. The Administration’s plan would commit $900 million to key energy and environmental initiatives, including $700 million to support water infrastructure upgrades and climate resiliency, and $100 million to invest in port infrastructure to support the offshore wind industry.

On March 26, 2021, Governor Baker signed comprehensive climate change legislation that enshrined the Administration’s target of Net Zero emissions by 2050 into law, significantly increased protections for Environmental Justice communities across Massachusetts, and authorized the Commonwealth to procure an additional 2,400 Megawatts (MW) of clean, reliable offshore wind energy by 2027. In September 2016, Governor Baker signed Executive Order 569 which lays out a comprehensive approach to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change, and build a more resilient Commonwealth. In April 2021, the Administration announced it had achieved its goal of investing $1 billion in climate change mitigation in adaptation since 2015 through programs like the nation-leading Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program, which has now enrolled 93 percent of cities and towns in Massachusetts.

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