By Jennifer L. Warren
NEWBURGH – The number is staggering….4000. That’s the approximate count of how many trees have been lost, along with the priceless beauty, shade and oxygen they provide, in the City of Newburgh over recent decades.
Thursday, several community agencies decided to start reducing that number; in just one day they did so by 12. The whole tree planting initiative had its fiscal roots in a birthday fundraiser for Greater Newburgh Parks Conservancy. Here, over $2000 was raised. Ensuing collaboration resulted in further investments from the Newburgh Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) as well as $1000 grant from the New York State Forestry Council, along with assistance from other horticulturist companies.
“We started to think how this is a really fun way everyone can initiate projects for tree stewardship,” said Naomi Hersson-Ringskog of the Department of Small Interventions.
Before long, it was determined that dire tree planting need would be one way of applying these joint funds. Liberty Street (the section north of Broadway) was purposely selected for the first project, including 12 trees. The south side, with its revitalization of shops and restaurants, has been given some TLC in the form of outdoor shrubbery, plants and other outdoor beautification.
“This side (the north) needs some love too, so we got together with the Parks Conservancy and Department of Small Interventions and decided this was a great place to regreen,” said Genie Abramsi, a Volunteer with CAC.
Last Thursday morning, an assortment of folks, representing several different agencies, united forces and could be spotted on Liberty Street, eagerly uprooting, planting, and building hope, along with much more.
“Today is important for so many reasons,” explained Karen Mejia, Councilwoman for the City of Newburgh’s Ward 1. “These partnerships are able to bring additional life into a block that will continue to grow for many generations.”
That growth will come from well-deserved shade, cleaner air, better public health as well as improved stormwater management, all benefits that trees provide. That integral mission of adding new trees to the City of Newburgh is shared by all the organizations that made the inaugural tree planting initiative on Liberty Street possible. The hope now is to make that priority even easier as time moves on and the need grows. The epicenter of it all can be found in strong, committed, and successful partnerships.
“This collaboration will make these blocks healthier and more beautiful for decades to come,” said a joyful Kathy Lawrence, Board Chair for Greater Newburgh Parks Conservancy.
“It also taught us all a lot about how we can help get many more trees planted where they are most needed.”
And so, although Newburgh is still down close to 4000 trees from its original count, there is plenty of promise that number will be steadily be reduced, and perhaps something even greater might be born.
“New York city had its Million Trees Initiative,” recalled Lawrence. “Here, in Newburgh, 5,000 trees is a worthy goal and would be an amazing accomplishment.”