NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The number of trees available to the city through a U.S. Forest Service grant has been dramatically reduced.
North Adams will be in line for 40 trees from the Franklin Land Trust over the next two years instead of about 300.
Sue White of Northern Berkshire Community Coalition informed the Tree Commission of the change at last week's meeting.
"They are only giving North Adams 40 trees and cut back for everybody," she said. "They cut back for Montague, for Greenfield and for North Adams. So instead of the 300-plus trees that originally would have been a possibility with the FLT extension of the grant, it's like 20 in 2022 and 20 in 2023.
The Tree Commission was renewed to take over the free tree initiative and oversee care of the trees already planted on public land. The federal Landscape Scale Restoration Grant is being administered by the Franklin Land Trust in partnership with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.
As of spring 2021, more than 900 trees were planted on public and private grounds in three participating communities; North Adams had planted 464 with volunteers coordinated by NBCC.
Responsibility was officially handed off to the commission on Sept. 1 although NBCC representatives said they would provide advice as needed.
White said there is also $1,048.33 in the budget, which could be used for trees, tree tape, flags and other accessories.
The full list of current supplies, spreadsheets and other information will be compiled for transfer in September.
Brett Beattie, who originally oversaw the tree-planting project at NBCC, said he would be willing to help with the ordering. The first orders had been contracted through Amherst Nursery, which had offered some flexibility with types of species available, largely in mid-tier priced, urban-tolerant trees
"There was plenty of selection for what we were doing," he said. "Those top-tier trees are really expensive and sometimes pretty sensitive and not very tolerant, whereas we were getting pretty tolerant trees."
However, the city was able to get several low-growing ornamentals when Beattie was looking for trees that would not interfere with overhead wires on Church Street.
Commissioners asked about how they go about caring for trees, planting or getting the trailer full of supplies to planting sites.
White said there had been a large volunteer effort and that list would be provided and that main work would be pulling up stakes from trees planted earlier. She also didn't think it necessary to pull out the trailer.
"I think keeping it simple will save a lot of stress," she said. "You throw shovels and bags and water and stuff in the back of a pickup, you meet on site, and the trees are on site, and you have water jugs filled and it's pretty straightforward."
White also pointed out that once the trees are all in and doing well, there will be opportunity for more grants as communities pursue green infrastructure.
This was only the commission's second meeting with its all new members. The panel had been fallow for several years.
Commissioner Dianne Olsen, who volunteered as secretary for the meeting, thought it important the comission decide its purpose.
"We're a brand-new entity and we're volunteers," she said. "How about we spend our next meeting deciding what the Tree Commission is."
White thought it a good idea but suggested the members first get some orientation on how a committee functions and Open Meeting Law.
"Then you sit down as a committee and decide what do we want to really do, how do we want to do it," she said.
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