About 50 people turned out for a tree planting to celebrate Arbor Day in the Town of Saugerties on Saturday, April 30 in a grassy area near the Kiwanis Ice Arena. In honor of the day, Town workers, under the direction of Buildings and Ground Superintendent Greg Chorvas, planted three American Linden trees.
Mary O’Donnell, the Chair of the Saugerties Conservation Advisory Commission and Coordinator of the Saugerties Climate Smart Task Force, introduced the Task Force members as well as the contributors to the event. She noted that Nicole Roskos had coordinated the event and received the donated trees that were planted during the week. O’Donnell also praised Task Force members Susan Murphy and Skip Arthur for helping with the organizing effort. Chorvas and his staff received kudos for planting the trees.
Supervisor Fred Costello said he was pleased with the turnout. “You could say it’s trivial to come and celebrate the planting of a tree, but it’s not. That tree will be here for decades, probably past many of our own lifetimes.”
Much of the area of Cantine Field is well graced with trees, which provide shade and beauty. The area near the skating rink is one of the last areas to be developed, Costello said. “In future years people will come together to celebrate more trees and we will have this one to look back upon.”
One of the reasons it is important to keep planting trees is because “our forests are under threat,” Costello said, citing the pine blight and the diseases and pests that decimated ash and elm trees. “With climate change, that will continue to happen. One of the ways we can make a small impact is to continue to plant trees, so we will have those trees to replace them.”
Costello said he liked the choice of trees, because “this is a flowering tree and next year at this time we’ll be enjoying its majestic beauty as well.” Finally, Costello thanked the many people who care for nature, plant trees and flowers and work to beautify the community.
Roskos said the New York State Urban Forestry Council established a quick start grant for communities to have a tree planting event to celebrate Arbor Day. “The aim is to move Saugerties closer to having Tree City USA status,” she said. This would lead to a tree ordinance, a tree board and funds for trees “and an annual Arbor Day celebration, such as this one.”
American Linden trees, also known as basswood, were selected because “they are fast growing native species, good for carbon absorption and they also provide the needed shade in the area. They are also resistant to environmental stress.”
Tree planting is important because “the pressures of climate change and development grow exponentially,” Roskos said. Protecting the existing forest is also important because they provide shade, oxygen replenishment and carbon absorption.
Roskos thanked Costello and the Town Board for applying for and signing the grant application and Mary O’Donnell and the Climate Smart Task Force for their support in putting on the Arbor Day event and to Greg Chorvas and his crew for planting the trees.
“We also applied to the Ulster County Department of the Environment and we received 12 maples from them, so we planted a total of 15 trees this week in Cantine Field,” she said. “As the English proverb states, ‘the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago’,” Roskos said, drawing a laugh from the audience. “The second best time is now,” she concluded.
Following the speeches, the crowd moved to a newly planted sapling and took turns filling in the hole. At the end of the festivities, the crowd enjoyed lemonade and tree-shaped brown and green cookies and left with black walnut saplings to plant at home.