At an Earth Week tree planting ceremony at Riverside Park in Haverhill, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton and Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Commissioner Leo Roy announced the expansion of the Greening the Gateway Cities Program (GGCP) to include the cities of Brockton, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lynn, Leominster, New Bedford, Pittsfield and Quincy. The program, which targets the Commonwealth’s 26 Gateway Cities, is designed to utilize tree plantings as a way to reduce energy use in urban neighborhoods by lowering heating and cooling costs for residents and businesses.
“The Greening the Gateway Cities Program serves as an excellent example of a strong partnership between state government, local municipalities, and dedicated organizations working together to ultimately benefit generations of people,” said Governor Charlie Baker.
To support the GGCP, the state will invest over $12 million in energy efficiency and state capital funds over a three year time span to plant 20,000 trees averaging six feet in height within the eight gateway cities. The program will not only produce energy savings, but will also benefit the local economy and create jobs by hiring foresters and tree planting crews from the cities where planting takes place. The GGCP is expected to yield more than twice the investment made by the Administration as the trees mature.
“By adding the cities of Brockton, Haverhill, Lawrence, Leominster, Lynn, New Bedford, Pittsfield, and Quincy into the Greening the Gateway Cities Program, our Administration continues to invest in the future of these cities to further enhance our environmental resources, which will benefit us all on a local and global scale,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.
“With the expansion of the Greening the Gateway Cities Program, communities will enjoy lower energy consumption, cleaner air, reduced noise, and the beautification of neighborhoods,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton.“Tree planting is also a great energy efficiency tool to boost the local economy with all aspects of the program occurring in the region from jobs at local nurseries to jobs within the neighborhoods planting trees.”
With a defined goal to increase the urban tree canopy to 5-10 percent in select neighborhoods in each Gateway City, the program is expected to reduce heating and cooling costs by approximately $230 a year for an average household, once the trees reach maturity. In less than two years, the program has planted 3,700 trees streets in Chelsea, Revere, Fall River, Chicopee and Holyoke. Planting will continue in those cities in addition to the new cities being added this spring. Residents who sign-up for the GGCP will be provided planted trees at no cost as long as they commit to water the trees for two summers.
“The Department of Energy Resources (DOER) is proud to work with municipalities to find opportunities to save energy and reduce costs,” said DOER Commissioner Judith Judson. “Expanding the Greening the Gateway Cities Program will strengthen these efforts.”
Under the program, DCR is spearheading the tree planting efforts in Brockton, Haverhill, Leominster, Lynn, and Pittsfield. The DCR, working in partnership with local municipalities and organizations in each city, has developed a successful approach to planting the appropriate number of trees required to have a long lasting energy impact by focusing on high-density urban neighborhoods.
“The Department of Conservation and Recreation is proud to support this worthwhile program by partnering with the cities of Brockton, Haverhill, Lawrence, Leominster, Lynn, New Bedford, Pittsfield, and Quincy,” said DCR Commissioner Leo Roy. “Programs, such as the Greening the Gateway Cities Program, serve as a wonderful example of the Baker-Polito Administration’s dedication to developing the necessary tools needed to effectively implement an urban forestry plan. Planting trees is, after all, the best thing that we can do to improve the environment.”
Aimed at improving the tree canopy found in the Commonwealth’s Gateway Cities, the program’s benefits are not isolated to energy efficiency. By planting trees, communities will see a reduction in storm water runoff, higher air quality, an increase in property values and tax receipts, and a safer, healthier environment for residents. For example, in Chelsea, over 1,200 trees have been planted so far with over 5,000 residents living within 50 feet of these trees – the average canopy size of the trees when mature in 20-30 years.
“Pittsfield is a city in the middle of a beautiful rural region,” said Senator Benjamin Downing (D – Pittsfield). “Preserving green space and investing in making the city greener are perfectly in line with the city's values and vision.”
“The Greening the Gateway Cities project is a perfect example of how the Commonwealth partners with cities, and I'm thrilled to see Pittsfield be part of this year's award,” said State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier (D-Pittsfield).“Planting trees in the WestSide and Morningside Neighborhoods brings beauty, improves quality of life, cools our city and helps absorb carbon, making it a win all around.”
“I am grateful to Secretary Beaton for selecting Pittsfield to participate in the Greening the Gateway Cities program,” said State Representative Paul Mark (D-Peru). “As an urban island in rural Berkshire County, Pittsfield is always seeking ways to balance its natural beauty with the demands of a city environment. This program will help us enhance that beauty and make our city greener than ever.”