Trees help improve air quality, provide shade and cooling benefits, mitigate the impacts of flooding, and enhance neighborhoods—all things we highlighted earlier this year in our piece on the importance of trees to a community and why communities around our region were looking to invest more in them.
Now, both Norwalk and Stamford have each received $1 million grants from the U.S. Forestry Service to put some of their tree plans into action.
“This project will expand the scope of the tree canopy work within the city’s existing Tree Canopy Master Plan like tree planting maintenance work, and community engagement work,” a statement from Norwalk reads.
Mayor Harry Rilling said the grant highlights the city’s focus in this area.
“We’re receiving a $1 million grant for tree planting within the City of Norwalk, and as most of us know, we are a very tree-friendly city,” he said at the announcement of the grant. “We really want to have trees in the city because we know they benefit us to such a great degree.”
Over the past three years, officials said that Norwalk has planted more than 850 trees.
“This project will establish trees in public right-of-way planting locations in disadvantaged downtown Stamford neighborhoods,” a statement from the city reads. “Youth will receive training to facilitate the stewardship of these trees. The project will help Stamford reduce carbon emissions, mitigate heat islands, enhance public safety, improve mental health, and create other significant benefits.”
Both cities said that these investments will help them plant trees in their more urban areas.
Erin McKenna, Stamford’s senior city parks planner, told the Operations Committee in September that the planting would go toward “neighborhoods that lack trees and are considered environmentally challenged sections of Stamford.”
Officials said that even with the investments, more is needed to help add to the tree canopies in both cities.
“Presently we’re not planting enough trees, and I would love to plant more trees but I just think we need to ramp up our personnel in order to do so,” said Stamford Tree Warden Ron Markey.
Still, efforts are underway in both to continue to add to their tree-related efforts. McKenna said that the city received funding in the latest approved budget to conduct a tree inventory of the city. This will give the city an overview of what trees already exist, where the holes are, and how they can develop a maintenance plan for them.
McKenna said that they hope to begin planting trees with the grant funding in the spring.