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North Adams Tree Commission Taking Over Free Tree Initiative

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Tree Commission is being revitalized to continue the work of the tree initiative that saw more than 400 new plantings throughout the city.
 
The commission's been dormant for some years but Mayor Thomas Bernard recently appointed Kevin Boisjolie, Danelle Galietti, Mitchell Keil, Dianne Olsen and Francesca Olsen. Three more members required to fill out the eight-person board that met for the first time last Tuesday.
 
"The intended purpose of the Tree Commission will include continued public tree planting and maintenance in North Adams, in order to keep our city green," explained Sue White, the current tree coordinator with Northern Berkshire Community Coalition. "The commission will be responsible for the supervision care maintenance, preservation, and removal of ornamental and shade trees, shrubs, and plants within the city."
 
White, who will be leaving NBCC in August, stepped into the role of coordinator upon the departure of Bret Beattie. He had been instrumental in the volunteer tree-planting project, an initiative of the Franklin Land Trust and funded by a grant from the U.S. Forest Service.
 
Since 2019, some 464 trees have been planted for residents and businesses and in public parks and along roadways. The city has a total of 800 trees available through the grant that runs through 2023.
 
"Although NBCC's formal participation in the grant will end in August of this year, NBCC will continue to be available to offer ongoing support with the work of the commission as needed," White said.
 
The new commission will need to develop a plan for planting and maintenance in collaboration with the tree warden — the commissioner of public services is the acting warden — and for reporting to appropriate authorities.
 
"Maintenance is a very important function," White said. "Existing trees must be cared for, watered, pruned and mulched, as needed, particularly during the summer months. Volunteer tree stewards are the most helpful in this regard."
 
NBCC has a spreadsheet of tree plantings, a priority list from Beattie, and other records it will share with the commission, she said, and a trailer with supplies at the Department of Public Works.
 
Recruiting volunteers would also fall to the commission, White said, offering to provide the original posters and ads so they can be revamped for the commission's use. Jessi Byrne, NBCC's health & wellness coordinator, said she had a "crash course" in the tree initiative and would be willing to help the commission as needed.
 
Commissioners asked who would be doing all this work. White said there are resources, such as the DPW, volunteers and possibly if an arborist or someone experienced could be named to the commission.
 
"This is just my input on that particular question, that you'll need a strong chairperson, someone that really, really is into the whole effort," said White.  "Unfortunately, as with a lot of voluntary commissions, there isn't really a budget. So you can't really hire an arborist."
 
In other business:
 
The commission held off on voting a chairman until there was a quorum; only four members were present.
 
• White updated the members on a planned event through the mayor's office with the Drury High class of 1998 to plant a memorial tree for Capitol Police Officer William Evans that is tentatively set for October. 
 
• Member introduced themselves: Galietti moved to the city shortly before the pandemic and became involved in the community gardens; Keil works for tree company Asplundh and is commander of the American Legion post; Boisjolie retired to the city after 40 years away and, as a friend of Beattie's father, volunteered with tree project; Dianne Olsen came to the city five years ago and was a horticulture educator at Cornell [University] Cooperative Extension in New York State, Francesca Olsen, who could not attend, is her daughter.

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MCLA Presents Vadnais Environmental Issues Lecture with Vivek Shandas

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts will present the annual Vadnais Environmental Issues Lecture with Vivek Shandas at 6 p.m. on Sept. 23 in Murdock Hall Room 218. A remote viewing option is also available. 
 
 
Vivek Shandas is a professor of climate adaptation and the founding director of the Sustaining Urban Places Research (SUPR) Lab at Portland State University. Professor Shandas specializes in developing strategies to reduce exposure of historically marginalized communities to climate-induced extreme events. He has published over 100 articles, three books, and his research has been featured in the New York Times, National Geographic, Scientific American, and other national and local media.  
 
Professor Shandas serves as chair of the city of Portland's Urban Forestry Commission, technical reviewer for federal and state agencies, and a board member on several non-profit organizations.
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