Save the Rain is Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s comprehensive program to improve the environment and clean Onondaga Lake by reducing the stormwater runoff that enters the sewer system. There is a combined sewer system in Syracuse, and during heavy rainfalls the system overflows into the tributaries of Onondaga Lake. Save the Rain utilizes innovative green and gray infrastructure to capture stormwater, preventing combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and improving water quality. The Save the Rain Tree Planting Program has planted over 6,300 trees that, among other ecological services, can soak up stormwater runoff.
By Lori Brockelbank, NYSUFC Treasurer and Certified Arborist/Municipal Specialist, Wendel Companies
The first-ever Western NY CommuniTREE Stewardship Program instruction has come to a close for most of the participants, but the learning and experience continues. You can read more about the program’s mission and partners on this earlier blog post. Out of the 20 people that initially signed up for the course, 13 completed the classroom requirements.
At the conclusion of the classroom sessions, I will admit I had my doubts about whether the students had truly received enough training to go out on their own. I know personally I learn more when I get my hands dirty and I am in the field applying the classroom instruction. A few of the students expressed the same concerns; for this reason each student is required to volunteer 10 hours of supervised field time doing tree planting and/or small tree pruning in a variety of places throughout the City of Buffalo. This field work is a great chance for students to get further coaching and ask questions.
I grew up hiking the woods of Honeoye in Western NY and learning about trees from my father and when I moved to Philadelphia after college, I began volunteering for some of their TreePhilly programs. Yard tree giveaways, street tree plantings, pruning days, and community gardens got me involved in the community and fueled my passion for trees. Eventually I was offered a chance to volunteer for an inventory study which put me in touch with some great people and got me interested in urban forestry.
Upon moving to Buffalo I reached out to anyone I could find to get involved, which led me to the wonderful opportunity to work with Re-Tree Western NY and the CommuniTREE Stewards Project (CTS). I knew there were a lot of trees, and a huge need for even more trees and tree care. When I got involved, this program was already moving ahead, but I wanted to help any way I could. Since I seemed to have a knack for social media, when the idea was brought up to use that to get the word out, I offered to do it.