Someday, Grace DiCaprio will be able to say she helped plant the two huge maples that shade her family’s front yard.
The young trees and the 3-year-old girl have a lot of growing to do until they get to that point. On Saturday, she spooned dirt with a toy shovel onto one of the new trees’ roots.
“Grace has been very excited to help,” said mother Laurie DiCaprio. “We’ve been looking forward to it.”
The DiCaprios had two trees planted in their Baker Avenue yard as part of an effort to repopulate the city’s hardwoods, many of which are aging and get taken down when they’re near the end of their lives.
“It’s like the life cycle,” DiCaprio said. “Some come down and two more come up.”
Several dead branches were recently removed from their neighbor’s large maple tree.
“We’re trying to kind of achieve parity with the stuff that they’ve taken out,” said Andy Morris, a volunteer with ReTree Schenectady.
On Saturday, the group planted 80 trees in the city with local homeowners’ help, part of a twice-annual effort that in the spring coincides with Arbor Day, which was Friday.
“We go door-to-door in the neighborhood where we know there’s interest, or we get someone in the neighborhood to go door-to-door,” said Mike Tamasi, a ReTree board member.
Joe DiCaprio said the organized effort has paid off on another block of Baker Street where trees were planted in the past.
He and his wife used the planting as a learning opportunity for Grace and her brother, 17-month-old Jake.
State grants and city funds pay for some of the tree expenses, and National Grid subsidizes the purchase of trees that end up under power lines if ReTree Schenectady chooses varieties that don’t grow very tall, Tamasi said.
On Baker Avenue, a crew of about 20 volunteers helped plant maple, littleleaf linden and flowering pear trees. Other volunteers worked in the Mont Pleasant neighborhood and other areas.
“It’s great when we get the residents to come out and get involved,” said Mary Moore Wallinger of Schenectady, a ReTree Schenectady board member helping the DiCaprios plant their trees.
The Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity at Union College uses the day as a service project in the spring and fall.
“It’s one of our philanthropy goals for the year,” said Jeff Baily, a sophomore. “It’s a good way to help out, and help with the community.”
For the third year in a row, ReTree Schenectady was awarded Tree City USA status by the National Arbor Day Foundation.
The tree-planting blitz was among several activities taking place in and around Schenectady in conjunction with Arbor Day. Some 600 youths and adults volunteered to work as part of Global Youth Service Day, an annual event coordinated locally by Schenectady’s Promise. They were seen Saturday cleaning up parks, cemeteries and other areas.
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