Allegheny County is about to get greener with the help of a $200,000 grant from Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. TreeVitalize will use the grant to plant about 1,000 more trees this year.
“Communities that want trees for their neighborhood come to us, and they go through an application process, and we work with them with our foresters, and we work with the communities to plant the right trees in the right place,” said TreeVitalize Director at Western PA Conservancy Jeffery Bergman.
The “right place” is a little more complicated than it may seem according to Bergman. Trees that are planted must be urban friendly — meaning they can handle high salt levels, and other chemicals from snowmelt and runoff.
Normally trees that are transplanted in a city have a 50 percent chance of dying after 1-2 years, but that is not the case with TreeVitalize — 90 percent of its trees survive the critical first few years.
Since 2008, 23,000 trees have been planted, more than 10,000 people have volunteered, and about 3 acres of concrete have been removed from the Pittsburgh region as a result of the program.
“We consider trees infrastructure, and if you put a lamp post up, or put a pipe in the ground it immediately starts to degrade. When you put a tree in the ground and you take care of it, it increases in value over time, so we’ll see the benefits of the trees that we have planted increase over the year,” said Bergman.
The trees are planted in the fall and spring. Applications are accepted in September for spring and March for fall. This spring planting began Saturday, and the trees will be planted in 16 communities including Wilkinsburg, Moon, and Morningside. About 50 percent of the trees are planted in the city, and the remainder in suburban municipalities.
Those interested in getting trees for their neighborhood can call the Western PA Conservancy Treevitalize Program, or check its website for opportunities to volunteer.