By Dan Corrado
Worcester, MA (October 3, 2009)- Arborists and municipal leaders were unanimous on one point yesterday: Reforestation will be the way Worcester copes in the wake of the 2008 ice storm and the continuing Asian longhorned beetle battle. “Replanting trees is a healing process,” said Clint D. McFarland, federal program director of the Asian longhorned beetle eradication program.
Before the discovery of the beetle’s presence in Worcester, approximately 17,000 trees lined city streets. Eighteen months later, the insidious pest has laid claim to more than 4,500 of the trees on city streets.
Walking along a heavily cut street in the city, it is easy to notice the deterioration of its aesthetics, officials said. Extensive tree removal in Worcester has brought about issues unclear to the naked eye, they said yesterday at a panel discussion on the future of urban forestry.
“Trees bring shade, cooling, tranquility and higher property value,” said City Manager Michael V. O’Brien. Brian Breveleri, the city’s head forester, echoed Mr. O’Brien’s point. “Trees are a major capital asset in Worcester.”
Those tasked with ridding Central Massachusetts of the Asian longhorned beetle will simultaneously take on the responsibility of replenishing the tree population. For the effort to succeed, it will have to be a cooperative effort involving forest industry officials, municipal leaders, and the public. The bothersome beetle was not the only defacer of Worcester over the past year.
Electric poles, homes, and cars were damaged during the December ice storm. Of the 169 communities in Massachusetts served by National Grid, 146 were affected by the storm. More than 1,400 electric poles had to be replaced across National Grid’s service territory in Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. Naturally, trees did not escape the wrath of the storm.
Because of the destruction, National Grid had fewer Worcester trees to oversee, which generated surplus funds because of less trimming and maintenance. National Grid yesterday contributed the $50,000 to the city. The grant will help fund the “Right Tree. Right Place” initiative in the city. Carefully chosen locations for planting will help avoid future problems, officials said.
Worcester Telegram- Replanting trees is seen as key to urban recovery