CAPITAL REGION — Five Capital Region communities have received grants from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to inventory and develop management plans for the tree stock in their communities.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos last week announced grants to Schenectady, Glenville, Saratoga Springs, Ballston Spa and the city of Albany totaling $232,755, part of a $1.4 million statewide package of urban forestry grants to help communities inventory, plant, and maintain trees in public places.
The grants are part of DEC’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, which works to increase public awareness of the importance of trees and helps communities develop and implement comprehensive tree management plans to create healthy forests, while enhancing quality of life for residents.
“Healthy community forests provide a host of environmental, economic, and social benefits, including wildlife habitat, watershed protection, flood reduction, increased property values, and improved public health,” Seggos said.
The 38 projects to receive funding were selected from a total of 154 applications, ranked by cost effectiveness, lasting benefits, use of partnerships, inclusion of outreach and education, and support from local stakeholders, DEC officials said.
In Schenectady County, the city of Schenectady was awarded $61,200 and the town of Glenville, $20,000. Schenectady works with and helps fund ReTree Schenectady, a non-profit that plants and manages trees in the city, and works on public education about the benefits of trees.
Glenville Supervisor Chris Koetzle said the town several years ago got a similar grant to start a townwide tree inventory, and the new grant will be used to complete a townwide inventory and develop a management plan.
“We’ve taken a lot of steps to try to manage our tree inventory, and this continues that effort,” Koetzle said. “Obviously we’re trying to make sure we have a healthy tree stock.”
The town has had problems in the recent past with both invasive species and tree diseases, and developing a plan will help address those issues, Koetzle said.
In Saratoga County, the city of Saratoga Springs, which has wide public support for its tree program, received $50,000, while the village of Ballston Spa received $26,555.
It is the first time an urban forestry grant has been awarded to Ballston Spa, which appointed a citizen board last year to examine the condition of the trees on the village’s streets and in its parks.
“This grant will allow us to determine the status of our public trees, (and) develop a plan to maintain existing trees and plant new trees,” said village Trustee Liz Kormos, Village Board liaison to the committee.
“Trees and shrubs provide long lasting benefits to the village not only in environmental health, but also to reduce flooding, provide wildlife habitat, increase property values, provide shade for walkers and bicyclists, and improve the quality of life for all village residents, businesses, and visitors,” said Ballston Spa Mayor Larry Woolbright.
The city of Albany received a $75,000 grant.