On Wednesday, the Baker-Polito Administration joined with City of Chelsea officials to celebrate the 2,400th tree planted under the Commonwealth’s Greening the Gateway Cities Program in the community and highlight the importance of trees within local communities.
“It is a tremendous achievement for Chelsea to reach this milestone and the Baker-Polito Administration remains committed to improving green infrastructure, such as urban tree canopies, in an effort to combat climate change and its impacts to vulnerable neighborhoods,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “By increasing a neighborhood’s tree canopy, the Greening the Gateway Cities Program improves air quality, reduces energy consumption, expands vital habitat, and beautifies the area.”
Since 2014, more than 30,000 trees have been planted by the GGCP in Gateway Cities across Massachusetts. The program specifically targets areas with less tree canopy, older housing stock, higher wind speeds, and larger renter populations. Plantings are concentrated in Environmental Justice neighborhoods to benefit those most in need. Trees up to 1,500 feet away from a home can provide important benefits to the community such as cleaner air, increased property values, reduction in noise pollution, and improved public health. Further, in the winter months, tree trunks and branches help to randomize wind patterns and decrease heat loss by air infiltration in poorly insulated homes. Plus, GGCP tree plantings benefit the local economy through the purchasing of trees at local nurseries and employing local planting crews.
“Healthy, green and accessible open spaces are an essential component of the public’s well-being and the Baker-Polito administration is proud to continue partnering with local municipalities and private individuals to ensure that trees and parks remain a priority,”said Department of Conservation and Recreation Acting Commissioner Stephanie C. Cooper. “The Greening the Gateway Communities Program provides important resources for our partners in communities to strengthen and enhance tree canopies across the Commonwealth.”
“I am excited to join the City of Chelsea today at the Greening the Gateway Cities 2,400th Tree Celebration. Planting more trees is a necessity for our Gateway Cities and communities of Environmental Justice, such as Chelsea, that are severely impacted by numerous environmental health issues including the urban heat island effect,” said Rep. Jessica Giannino. “Thank you to DCR and the City of Chelsea for leading this effort and committing to making vibrant Gateway Cities brighter and greener!”
“The City of Chelsea is proud to have been part of this incredible tree planting program initiated by the Baker Administration. And, we are so glad to be hosting today’s milestone celebration,” said Chelsea City Manager Thomas G. Ambrosino. “We hope to enjoy these plantings, and the benefits that they provide our city, for a very long time to come.”
As a participant of the Greening the Gateway Cities Program, trees are provided free of charge and are planted by DCR work crews. To be eligible, residents and property owners must agree to a two-year watering commitment to ensure the trees’ survival. Easy care instructions are provided by DCR to tree recipients addressing watering, mulching and pruning. When a potential tree recipient registers, a DCR urban forester will visit their home to determine the best location and species of tree for energy efficiency. They also conduct year-round site visits and are available to answer questions. For more information, please visit the program’s webpage.
In June 2021, the Baker-Polito Administration re-filed its plan to immediately put to use part of Commonwealth’s direct federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support key priorities including housing and home ownership, economic development and local downtowns, job training and workforce development, health care, and infrastructure. As part of the Administration’s proposal to jump-start the Commonwealth’s economic recovery and support residents hardest-hit by COVID-19, such as lower-wage workers and communities of color, Governor Baker would direct $900 million to key energy and environmental initiatives, including $100 million for parks, recreation, and open spaces.
These funds would support investments in public lands, as well as lands specifically conserved for public access including parks, lakes, rivers, trails, beaches, fishing piers, boat ramps, and other waterways. Funding would be dedicated to projects that expand, enhance, and modernize the Commonwealth’s park facilities to steward and conserve natural resources, and to improve the resilience of natural and working lands, plants, and wildlife in the Commonwealth.