By Shelly Dein, Director of Energy and Sustainability for the City of Quincy
Home and business owners, in sections of some Quincy neighborhoods, have been getting free shade trees for their property through the Greening the Gateway Cities Program (GGCP), a joint effort of the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). To qualify, a property must be located in the area bounded by Sea and Lind Streets and the water in Germantown; or Hancock Street, Billings Street, Cheriton Road/Vassal Street, and Quincy Shore Drive in North Quincy and Wollaston. The areas were chosen for their high population density and their thin existing tree canopy. Trees are being planted to help reduce household heating and cooling energy use by increasing tree canopy cover in urban residential areas, with funding from the Department of Energy Resources (DOER).
According to Peter Tam, program director of Quincy Asian Resources, Inc. (QARI), which is doing local outreach for GGCP under the state’s contract, roughly 800 trees—one third of the GGCP’s goal for Quincy–have already been planted on 50 private properties and several Quincy Housing Authority sites.
Tam encourages residents to sign up for the program. Shade trees, he explains, make an attractive addition to a property, “especially during hot summers like this past one, when trees help cool your house and save energy. And, by buffering winds, they offer protection during storms. Economically speaking, they make a lot of sense because they can also increase your property’s value.”
By saving energy and removing carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the air, trees also help combat climate change and respiratory ailments such as lung cancer and asthma, says David Reich, board chair of Quincy Climate Action Network, which supports the program.
“The Greening the Gateway Cities Program has allowed communities like Quincy to experience the benefits of a healthier, more vibrant urban tree canopy, while allowing the Commonwealth to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said DCR Commissioner Leo Roy. “Connecting residents with the nature around them promotes environmental stewardship and outdoor recreation, and I look forward to seeing more trees planted in the Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities.”
Property owners who sign up for free shade trees, by calling 617-626-1570, will be contacted by the DCR. Then a DCR forester will do a site inspection, make recommendations, and with the owner’s permission, arrange for appropriate trees to be planted.
“Overall,” says Ahron Lerman, Urban Forester at the DCR, “we have available over 80 different varieties of trees from which to choose. They’re not always available every season – so on some of the less common trees, it’s really first come, first served. Some of the commonly available trees we plant include pin oaks, American elms, and lindens, while some of the less commonly available trees we like to plant are pagoda trees, bald cypress, and Kentucky coffee trees. We have a tree for every place.”
Tree planting is done in the Fall and the Spring. The whole process, from initial contact to planted trees, has been taking about a week to ten days, according to Tam. Owners must commit to watering the trees for their first two years. After that, tree roots are generally deep and well established, although trees will still benefit from watering during drought conditions.
While the owner must sign off before a property can get the trees, renters can apply directly to QARI, which will help them contact their landlord, says Tam.
To sign up for the program, contact DCR at 617-626-1570, or for more information QARI at 617- 472-2200.