Kingston, New York designated a ‘Tree City USA’


KINGSTON, NY –  Poets tell us only God can make a tree, but man can have a hand in replacing them.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has set a challenging goal of planting a million new trees over the next 10 years, thereby almost doubling the number of those existing.

The city of Kingston's long-standing Tree Commission plants between 25 and 30 trees a year, operating on a budget of about $8,000. Residents or businesses requesting trees on their property are charged half the city's cost. Trees are typically planted at a height of between eight and 12 feet.

Flowering trees are most popular, according to city officials, followed by shade trees. Cornell Cooperative Extension provides seedlings. Property owners are responsible for maintenance.

There are reasons galore for planting more trees and they are all around us. Trees not only beautify and stabilize neighborhoods, they're also investments, according to the Department of Agriculture's Forest Service.

A recent Forest Service survey says that for every $1 spent on a tree planting program, $5 is returned in energy savings. Trees help conserve energy through natural air cooling and an insulation effect, remove carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the air and provide protection in terms of storm and erosion control.

There can be health benefits, too. In New York City, for example, tree plantings are being concentrated in areas of high incidents of asthma.

Kingston has been designated a “Tree City USA” by the National Arbor Foundation for the past 12 years, a period when it has also been awarded the foundation's “Growth Award.” But Kingston's tree planting program is rather modest for a city of eight square miles and over 100 miles of streets. The annual budget for trees, including administration, is only about $80 per mile. Trees plantings cost an average of $250.

With apologies to poet Joyce Kilmer, Kingston would be foolish not to follow Gotham's lead in launching an aggressive public-private effort to refoliate and beautify its urban landscape.


Editorial in the Kingston Daily Freeman 

July 14, 2007