Village asks for help planting shade trees

Village shade trees, not currently in shade mode (photo by Will Dendis)

Village shade trees, not currently in shade mode (photo by Will Dendis)

An inventory of all the street trees in the village of Saugerties was initiated last year by the Saugerties Village Tree Commission, paid for by a grant written by commission chair Rosemarie Brackett. The survey, now complete, maps out each tree in the village with its location, species and condition. Many of the trees are in need of removal, damaged over the years by the weather or simply from aging. “Sometimes the tree wasn’t planted in an opportune location to begin with,” said Brackett. “But the philosophy of the Tree Commission is, ‘For every tree that comes down, at least one tree gets planted.’”

But what’s a village to do when there isn’t any money for such a project?

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The Tree Commission has a proposal: It will match contributions from residents toward the purchase of new trees dollar-for-dollar. “We know we have a wonderful community here in Saugerties, and people care,” said Brackett. “It’s our community, our village, and we’re losing our trees. We think by reaching out and letting people know there’s a need, we can do this together.”

Some guidelines have been established. The trees have to be planted in the village’s sidewalk tree lawns, not on private property. And any planting of street trees has to be done through the Tree Commission; village code does not allow for residents to plant (or remove) street trees on their own. In addition, the commission also has the last word in determining what type of tree can be planted in any given location – taking into consideration the size of the tree and the tree lawn and whether there are wires overhead. “The objective is to have a healthy, vibrant treescape in the village, not just randomly, without thought, just start planting and then it doesn’t sustain itself,” said Brackett.

Under the matching program, a resident would write a check for half the cost of purchasing, siting and planting a tree. The cost for a new tree is approximately $250, so a resident would contribute $125.

That number allows for the planting of a tree with some maturity. “We plant a minimum two-caliper tree [the trunk is two inches across; the height the tree attains will depend on the species] because once it’s planted it already has an identity and looks like a tree,” said Brackett. “If you plant something too small, you have to support it with a stick and it just doesn’t thrive as well.”

But if $125 for the matching program is out of reach for a resident, the commission welcomes donations in smaller increments, as well, which go into the general fund to be used for planting trees. And of course larger donations are welcome. Ultimately, “the objective is to plant more trees,” said Brackett, so the commission is open to any “workable ideas” from residents. All it takes is a conversation with the tree commission, whose members welcome input from residents.

One option is to memorialize a loved one or a special occasion with the planting of a tree. For an additional charge, a small plaque or stone can be mounted in the soil alongside the tree. Recently a village resident planted a memorial tree for his father, who was a veteran, so it was decided to put the tree near the American Legion post.

Businesses can sponsor trees by making a donation, too. They’ll be acknowledged on the commission’s website and Facebook page as well as in any literature or mailings. The group also does fundraisers like last year’s “Antiques Road Show.”

The Tree Commission’s next event will be held Arbor Day, Friday, April 25, when the group anticipates planting as many as four or five new trees. Last year the commission had funds for just one.

Brackett said the Saugerties Society of Little Gardens club has donated the cost of a tree and they have a generous donation from Adams Fairacre Farms. In addition, the Saugerties Farmers Market has pledged matching funds. The trees will be planted near the market and Cahill Elementary School.

The Saugerties Library will host an Arbor Day program on Saturday, April 26 from 2-5 p.m. The Village Tree Commission has invited George Profous, a senior forester from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), to speak about tree care and maintenance. He’ll do demonstrations on pruning and instruct participants on how to improve the survival of their trees and reduce storm damage to them. The event is free.

Brackett said the commission is always looking for volunteers to be involved at any level, even if it’s just as a village “scout” to find good locations for new trees. Now that this harsh winter is coming to an end, there may be trees out there that were damaged by the weather that the commission doesn’t know about yet, and residents can be helpful in keeping the organization apprised of what they see out there.

For more information, email Rosemarie Brackett at trees12477@gmail.com. Donations in any amount are gratefully accepted. Make checks payable to the Saugerties Village Tree Commission, Village Hall, 43 Partition St., 12477. For more information, visit www.saugertiestreecommission.wordpress.com.