In the fall of 2018, Franklin Land Trust was awarded a Landscape Scale Restoration (LSR) Grant through the US Forest Service (USFS), in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), to be the lead organization in a large-scale tree planting project in Greenfield, Montague, and North Adams. The primary goal of this ambitious project is to provide more shade to urban residents during the hot summer months by planting trees that will cool sidewalks, homes and buildings, city streets, and public parks. To date, the three cities combined have planted 925 trees, and have worked with almost 400 volunteers in tree planting and stewardship activities!

Small cities across the country are suffering from a loss of tree canopy cover, and a lack of funds to plant new trees. Many urban areas have high percentages of impervious surfaces, such as paved roads, sidewalks, or parking lots that reflect heat and do not allow water to seep into the ground below. This is leading to what is called the “Urban Heat Island Effect,” referring to significantly higher temperatures in urban areas compared to surrounding rural towns. Neighborhoods and downtown streets in North Adams, Greenfield, and Montague that are lacking in tree canopy cover are starting to see the benefits that street trees can bring to a neighborhood.

“This project is having a measurable, positive impact in Montague,” says Walter Ramsey, Montague town Planner. “It will make our villages and downtown more beautiful and more energy efficient for generations to come.”

The pandemic slowed the pace of planting in 2020, but even so, dedicated volunteers, city leaders, and FLT managed to plant over 315 trees this year. Volunteers, tree committee members, and Department of Public Works staff quickly adapted to the challenges of COVID-19, developing new protocols and strategies for safely planting trees in the spring and fall.  “It has been inspiring to see how these cities have creatively found ways to continue planting trees during the pandemic, offering a much-needed sense of hope to our communities during these challenging times” notes Melissa Patterson-Serrill, FLT Director of Community Outreach and Education.

Plans for spring 2021 planting are underway. Get involved! Contact Melissa Patterson-Serrill at mpatterson@franklinlandtrust.org  to learn how.

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