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Monthly tree plantings in Amherst to begin Saturday

Before that tree, planted at the top of a knoll by the late Homer Cowles decades ago, needs to be removed, members of the Public Shade Tree Committee want to get a new tree in place.

“We’re putting a young one in nearby, to start growing before the other one falls over,” said committee member Robert Erwin.

When the 20-foot tall sugar maple, donated by Amherst Nurseries, is put in the ground Saturday morning, it will also serve as the kick off to a monthly tree-planting program.

The plan is to get trees in the ground each first Saturday, possibly excluding July and August, into October.

Erwin, who is overseeing what is called the First Saturday monthly plantings, said the sugar maple planting meets the guidelines set by the Conservation Commission for the former Atkins Farms orchard.

Hope Crolius, chairwoman of the committee, said the planting continues what began last fall, when the committee did both a ceremonial tree planting on Jeffrey Lane to recognize Bill Hutchinson for his years of service to the committee and a neighborhood tree planting on Woodside Avenue.

Crolius said the committee would like people who live nearby to come to assist in the digging, watering and mulching. In addition, Tree Warden Alan Snow will lead a tree planting demonstration. Volunteers should bring gloves and a spade or shovel for digging.

The monthly planting is an important community initiative for members of the committee, Crolius said.

“First Saturday plantings are our way of assuring that we are carrying out the most fun and necessary part of our work as members of the tree committee, which is to plant trees,” Crolius said.

In May, the monthly plantings will move to the corner of Mill Lane and West Street, near the former grist mill. Erwin said there is a crescent of grass with no trees near a PVTA bus stop that could be filled with trees. He would like to see one sweet gum, two pin oaks and two red maples planted there.

In June, the intent is to be on Stanley Street at the site of the Habitat for Humanity houses, which is currently a tree-less landscape. Erwin said 10 to 12 trees could be planted along the road and driveway, with the homeowners assisting.

Later in the summer the work moves to Pelham Road and Main Street, where a number of trees were cut down.

Crolius said the program depends on the generosity of local businesses, including Hadley Garden Center. Other trees will be purchased through the committee’s gift tree fund, supported by donors.

This effort is separate from the three-year, $600,000 municipal plan to plant 2,000 new shade trees. Snow will be working with a Department of Public Works crew and student interns from the Stockbridge School at the University of Massachusetts on that project.

As for the monthly plantings, the tree committee will be soliciting residents interested in having their neighborhood take part.

For more information about First Saturday tree planting, call Erwin at 256-6705 or send an email to Crolius at hopecrolius@gmail.com.

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