New CommuniTREE Stewards Program Launches in Erie County

Photo by Paul Maurer for first post
Sister Johnice of St. Adalbert’s Response to Love Center in Buffalo joined the community around the Broadway Fillmore area to help plant trees. Here, a priest from St. Adalbert’s blesses the new plantings. Photo by Paul Maurer

This is the first in a series of real-time reporting by NYSUFC Board Member Lori Brockelbank, who serves on the planning committee for this new Western NY CommuniTREE Stewards program.  

Snow days from school in early October in Western New York—not a chance! But that is exactly what happened on October 12, 2006 to the City of Buffalo and surrounding communities. With leaves still on many trees, the heavy wet snow left Western NY with a challenge unlike any in the past. Thousands of trees were damaged; some needed pruning while many needed removal.

To coordinate replanting efforts after the storm, Re-Tree WNY (Re-Tree) was formed to help replace the vast canopy that was lost. Over the last ten years, the thousands of trees lost in the October 2006 storm have been replaced by Re-Tree’s volunteers, the City of Buffalo, and the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy.

In 2016, community partners have come together to take a natural next step in the care of these young trees by organizing a CommuniTREE Stewards (CTS) program. The intent of CTS is to train project volunteers to nurture the trees planted since 2006 and also be part of future plantings. CTS is a program of Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Erie County, with partners that include the City of Buffalo, Re-Tree, the Buffalo Green Fund, and Wendel Companies. We looked to similar programs, specifically Onondaga County CCE CommuniTREE Stewards, for guidance on how to organize the training for a similar program in Erie County.

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Buffalo’s Cost-Share Grant Story and Advice

Measuring Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) during the in-house, grant-funded inventory.
Measuring Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) during the in-house, grant-funded inventory.

In 2011, the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy (BOPC) successfully applied for a Round 10 Urban and Community Forestry Cost-Share Grant from NYS DEC.

Among other things, the funds went toward updates to the City of Buffalo’s tree inventory, condition assessment of the existing BOPC Tree Inventory and Management Plan, and priority maintenance to trees within the Buffalo Olmsted Park System.

The original tree inventory for Buffalo was performed in 2005 and updated in 2008, but by 2011, there was a need to include the 2,100 trees planted in the prior two years and a need to update the conditions report for the 11,500 trees in the database.

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