Baker announces $120K grants to boost Holyoke’s tree canopy

  • Governor Charlie Bakers speaks at an event with Karyn Polito, Lieutenant Governor, and Joshua Garcia, Mayor of Holyoke, to celebrate the funding of the Greening the Gateway Cities Program in Holyoke Monday afternoon, August 29, 2022. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, center, and Gov. Charlie Baker, right, talk with Department of Conservation and Recreation employees at an event celebrating the funding of the Greening the Gateway Cities program in Holyoke, Monday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Mayor Joshua Garcia speaks at an event with Gov. Charlie Baker, left, and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito to celebrate the funding of the Greening the Gateway Cities Program in Holyoke, Monday afternoon, STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 8/29/2022 8:35:22 PM
Modified: 8/29/2022 8:31:42 PM

By BERA DUNAU

Staff Writer

HOLYOKE — The city will get an infusion of $120,000 in state money to plant 62 trees as part of a continuing effort to boost its tree canopy, an initiative that began nearly eight years ago and has led to the planting of more than 2,100 trees citywide.

In a swing through Holyoke on Monday afternoon, Gov. Charlie Baker announced the latest round of funding for the Greening the Gateway Cities program. The money for Holyoke, which comes in the form of two grants, will prepare the ground for the creation and renovation of tree pits in the city in order to allow the Department of Conservation and Recreation to plant the trees.

“This is opening up new opportunities,” said Yoni Glogower, the city’s director of conservation and sustainability.

In his remarks at the event, Glogower said the funding will focus on creating 46 new tree pits in Holyoke in areas where there is little existing canopy cover and high levels of impervious surface.

“This is not just about adding trees but creating new growing space for trees to be able to exist,” he said.

Glogower said that some of the areas that will be prepared for new trees will be in front of the Dr. Marcella R. Kelly School and the area of Lyman Street and Walnut Street.

In his remarks at Holyoke Heritage State Park, Baker said that the program is closing in on having planted 35,000 trees statewide.

“This effort started with the idea that maybe we’d be able to find partners to put 10,000 trees in the ground,” the governor said.

He also said that having tree canopy is not only visually appealing, but important for mitigating the effects of climate change as well.

While a tree would normally have been planted during the governor’s visit, Baker noted that this wasn’t possible because of the ongoing drought.

“We really appreciate our community support and our community partners in getting this done,” Baker said.

Also joining the governor were Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia, State Rep. Pat Duffy, D-Holyoke, and Holyoke City Council President Todd McGee.

“The greening grant announced today is a living and enduring tribute to Gov. Baker’s commitment to land conservation and quality of life through tree planting,” Garcia said.

He also said that 2,120 trees have been planted in Holyoke with the governor’s support since 2014.

“Thank you to the governor for your support in this inspiring program and for your support to our city of Holyoke,” Garcia said.

Another speaker was Energy and Environmental Affairs Undersecretary Gary Moran.

“The benefit of shade trees has been well documented,” Moran said, citing a reduction of cooling costs and an increase in property values as some of them.

He also noted that DCR provides permanent and seasonal local jobs in this program.

Sarah Greenleaf is an urban forester with DCR who will be part of the tree planting in Holyoke. She said that DCR is looking at planting long-lived shade trees, such as gingko trees and London plane trees.

Most of the trees planted through the program are on private property. Anyone who wants to have a tree planted on their property in Holyoke can contact the program at 617-626-1473.

Baker’s visit to Holyoke was the final of three stops in western Massachusetts. The governor and Polito stopped in Springfield to mark the start of a project to redevelop the Civic Center Garage, followed by a trip to West Springfield to highlight municipal transportation infrastructure programs and the recently-signed MassTRAC legislation.

On Tuesday, Baker and Polito will join Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card and local officials in Williamsburg to announce the latest round of Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Grant awards. The group will meet at 16 Main St. at noon.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.


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