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Earth Day 2023 coincides with 16th season of Re-Tree plantings


Tue, Apr 18th 2023 07:00 am

Saturday includes variety of volunteer reforesting in Western New York

Almost 17 years ago, Re-Tree volunteers set out to remedy massive storm-damaged areas of Western New York after the surprise storm on Oct. 12, 2006. It took the program until 2019 to complete the recovery – its 30,000th tree was planted at Canalside that year.

The 30,000 equals 60,000, according to Re-Tree founder and chairman, Paul D. Maurer.

“We set out with a model that would get us to the goal of replanting more than the reported 57,000 trees lost just in the public areas (parks and streets) from that year’s storm. We offered to each of the 18 municipalities to match our volunteers one-for-one. So, their crews and landscape contractors did 30,000, we did 30,000,” Maurer said. “We estimated we could do it in five years, instead it took 13. But we finally did it!”

Since that milestone, the group still plants and will continue to do so.

Maurer and his all-volunteer leaders (he is also a volunteer) will gather this Saturday to put in 52 more trees throughout the Buffalo area.

It is also a special day, since the planting falls right on Earth Day.

“In our training workshop last weekend, I pointed out that, over a 50-year period, just one tree cleans the air, produces oxygen, cleans the soil, sequesters carbon, and provides water conservation to the tune of a total of $161,000,” Maurer said. “So, all the good our people are doing with these 52 trees is equivalent to over $8 million for our environment. If that isn’t a great Earth Day gift we are giving to Western New York, just by planting these trees, I don’t know what would be better!”

Re-Tree, a program of the nonprofit Buffalo Green Fund, has expanded to include training programs in advance of each of their plantings – one in spring, one in fall.

Gail Wells, president of the Buffalo Green Fund, said, “We had almost 50 people this past Saturday, training at the Buffalo Museum of Science. They were captivated for three hours to the material from the training hosts that walked them through the hows and whys of planting trees with us. It was tremendously gratifying to see so many eager tree planters give up their Saturday morning for this effort.”

After the training, volunteers gathered to plant three trees in Frederick Law Olmsted’s “hallowed ground,” Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, one of several the master landscape planner gifted Buffalo in the late-1800s.

On April 22, about 75 volunteers will take to their assigned planting sites to put in the trees starting at 9 a.m. One of these will be along the streets leading to City Honors School and also at Public School 37 Futures Academy. Additional planting sites will be at Concordia Cemetery (438 Walden Ave.), Firemens’ Park in West Seneca, Bailey Avenue (near UPS), Prospect Avenue in Buffalo, and Tifft Nature Preserve.

Tree species include Hackberry, London Planetree, Gingko, Liquidamber, Red Oak, American Beech, Eastern Redbud, Yellowwood, Japanese Lilac, October Glory, and Autumn Blaze Maple.

The trees will be offloaded and distributed to the trained planters this Friday, April 21, from 2-5 p.m. at 1120 Seneca St., near Babcock, the city engineering headquarters.

Another planting will be Nov. 4.

Donations are still sought by the group. For more information on the program, log onto www.Re-TreeWNY.org or www.BuffaloGreenFund.org; or by calling Maurer at 716-553-4061.

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