Historic tree guide unveiled in Holyoke

  • Trees in Holyoke Holyoke Department of Conservation and Sustainability

For the Gazette
Published: 9/13/2021 1:48:07 PM

HOLYOKE — In a partnership with the city, the Wistariahurst Museum has launched a new “Guide to Holyoke’s Historic Trees.”

Yoni Glogower, the director of the city’s Department of Conservation and Sustainability, said the project’s goal was to “really take a human lens to Holyoke’s natural history.”

The guide prompts people to recognize the connections that living trees have to Holyoke’s history as well as the important role these trees still play in the city’s environment.

Although many of the nearly 30 trees in the guide are more than 100 years old, Glogower said that age isn’t the only factor that makes a tree historic. The walking tour also includes “trees you don’t normally see in urban environments… such as the Paw Paw,” Glogower said. This tree produces the largest edible fruit native to North America and they can be found growing right here in Holyoke, he said.

Copies of the guide can be found at Wistariahurst, at the Department of Conservation and Sustainability’s office, as well as on the department’s official website.

The guide is a small part of the Urban Forest Equity Plan, a larger project produced by Glogower’s department to advocate Holyoke’s goals to weaken the impacts of climate change, including air quality, stormwater pollution, and localized flooding. These are all issues that can be influenced by the urban tree canopy and tree placement.

“In order to better maintain and expand Holyoke’s urban canopy, we need to recognize and celebrate the relationship that already exists between trees and our residents,” Glogower said. He said he hopes this guide is a step in the right direction.

Funding for the project was provided by a $135,000 grant in 2020 from the state’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program, which provides money to Massachusetts cities and towns to plan for climate change resiliency. Glogower said that this was the third grant from the program and that he hopes to request more funding for new projects next year.

He noted that $11,000 of the current grant was spent on the historic tree guide. Michaela Wright, who has worked on previous projects with the New York Botanical Garden and the American Museum of Natural History, was brought on as the primary researcher for the guide last June.

“I think it was a great collaboration of historical and ecological interest,” Glogower said regarding the partnership with Wistariahurst.

Owned and operated by the city and supported by the Wistariahurst Foundation, Wistiarhurst is an educational center dedicated to preserving history and culture through public programs including workshops, concerts, lectures, demonstrations, and community partnerships.

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