From Clare Evelyn Carney, CCE Onondaga Urban Forestry Educator:
The Save the Rain (STR) Tree Planting Program had a wonderful year of planting street trees throughout the City of Syracuse. In 2017, over 1,000 trees were planted through the collaborative efforts of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County, the City of Syracuse Parks Department, and the Onondaga Earth Corps (OEC). This fall season, Save the Rain (STR) team members participated in a neighborhood restoration project and two tree planting events in which volunteers engaged with their communities.
On September 14th, 2017 the STR team came together to support the annual Home HeadQuarters Block Blitz. It was a wonderful opportunity to partner with other organizations working to rejuvenate our communities. The Block Blitz is a volunteer event focused on the revitalization of homes in Syracuse, with interventions such as painting, landscaping, cleanups, and structural restoration. As part of the landscape renewal, the STR crew planted 13 trees at properties in the Southside Neighborhood.
Because mid-September is early in the season for fall tree planting, we used Missouri Gravel Bed grown trees from nearby Rare Earth Nursery. Studies have shown that trees grown with the Missouri Gravel Bed method survive transplanting during the dry summer months due to an increased fibrous root mass.
Every fall, the STR team works with an elementary school to educate students on the value of urban tree plantings and their mitigating effect on stormwater runoff. On October 12th, Mr. Lounsbery’s 4th & 5th grade class at Syracuse’s McKinley-Brighton Elementary School joined our OEC crew in planting 13 trees; the class helped plant European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) trees near the playground. The soil surrounding the school was highly compacted, but the students persevered in digging and had a great time planting trees that they will watch grow.
At the end of the month, on October 28th, STR hosted its largest and final volunteer tree planting of the year, resulting in 79 new trees along the City-owned right-of-way in the Brighton Neighborhood of Syracuse. With 188 participants, this year was the best-ever attended tree planting event for STR! Crew leaders led volunteers deployed throughout the neighborhood—folks from National Grid, CCE Onondaga CommuniTree Stewards, and members of the Onondaga Earth Corps.
All of the plantings took place in the tree lawns with prior homeowner approval. The soil conditions were typical of an urban environment, including compaction, narrow tree lawns, overhead wires, and buried utilities—but with thorough planning, the team made sure to find the Right Tree for the Right Place. Many of the trees were adaptable, low-growing species of hawthorn (Crataegus) and crabapple (Malus), along with Japanese tree lilac (Syringa reticulata). Volunteers of all ages from across Onondaga County came out to support the Brighton Neighborhood.
Each year we continue to grow with our community and reach more of the City’s residents. As we head into the final year (2018) of the Tree Planting Program, the Save the Rain team is looking forward to finishing strong. We thank all of the volunteers and program partners for making 2017 a huge success!