No fake plastic trees here: City plants 1,000th sapling

  • Richard Parasiliti, the Northampton tree warden, and Rebecca Neimark and Molly Hale, volunteers with the Public Shade Tree Commission, plant the 1,000th tree Wednesday on Prospect Street in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Richard Parasiliti, the Northampton tree warden, Rebecca Neimark and Molly Hale, volunteers with the Public Shade Tree Commission, plant the 1,000th tree on Prospect Street in Northampton, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Richard Parasiliti, the Northampton tree warden, Rebecca Neimark and Molly Hale, volunteers with the Public Shade Tree Commission, plant the 1,000th tree on Prospect Street in Northampton, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Molly Hale and Rebecca Neimark, volunteers with the Public Shade Tree Commission, plant the 1,000th tree Wednesday on Prospect Street in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 11/6/2019 3:40:14 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Working on the side of Prospect Street on Wednesday morning, the city’s tree warden, Richard Parasiliti, and a group of volunteers piled dirt on top of the roots of a sapling resting in a shallow hole in the ground. 

The Maackia amurensis tree is the 1,000th public shade tree to be planted as part of a city initiative that started in 2016. “As close as we can tell,” Parasiliti said of the 1,000 mark.

Down Prospect Street, volunteers from Tree Northampton — a nonprofit dedicated to planting and maintaining trees around the city — planted several other saplings, including chokecherry trees.

A tree inventory completed in 2016 found 2,000 public spots where new trees could grow, and the city began to plant more shade trees.

Mayor David Narkewicz said that in the years before the initiative, “We had fallen behind as a city in our tree canopy.”

Many of the trees around the city were planted in the mid- to late 1800s, Parasiliti said: “The city’s canopy is old.” This year, Parasiliti said they have planted around 330 trees, topping last year’s 297 new trees. 

“They’re such a vital part of our infrastructure,” said Narkewicz, pointing to how the trees provide cooling shade and stormwater retention. They also fit into the city’s commitment to curb climate change, he added. The 2016 tree inventory found that the roughly 9,800 shade trees in Northampton at the time sequestered 2.25 million pounds of carbon dioxide in their lifetimes. 

The young Maackia amurensis tree (also called Amur maackia) will produce white flowers, Parasiliti said, and grow to only about 25 feet tall — an intentional choice to avoid interfering with the wires above the sapling that stretch between telephone poles. Climate change was also taken into account in choosing the tree species, as the Maackia amurensis can withstand warmer temperatures, Parasiliti said, which might be necessary in future decades. He is not planting maple trees anymore, in part because they are not tolerant of warmer temperatures. 

Rob Postel, a public shade tree commission member, regularly volunteers with Tree Northampton and was helping plant Wednesday morning. “I like that in many places that I walk, I’m in sight of a new tree,” Postel said. 

Though the city hit a milestone Wednesday, Parasiliti says he hopes more trees will be planted. “Many more,” he said. 

Greta Jochem can be gjochem@gazettenet.com.


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