Harrisburg, PA (April 15, 2013) – The Pennsylvania Department Conservation and Natural Resources announced that it is expanding TreeVitalize, a popular and successful community tree-planting and education program. Initially launched on Arbor Day 2004, the TreeVitalize program has planted more than 350,000 shade trees in 14 metropolitan areas. Governor tom Corbett has directed the DCNR to expand grant opportunities so that the benefits of trees can be extended to every county.
Funded through DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry grants and municipal, private agency and company involvement, TreeVitalize is dependent on community support to increase tree canopies across the state, and educate and engage citizens in the care and selection of these new trees.
“This program has been a success in 13 urban areas across the state because city officials, DCNR and a long list of private and corporate sponsors are all dedicated to seeing TreeVitalize work,” said DCNR Secretary Richard Allan. “More than 3,500 volunteers have completed Tree Tender training to become champions of the program in their own communities.”
Since its outset, TreeVitalize has been supported strongly across the state by the Pennsylvania Community Forests Council, an urban forestry, non-profit organization that has provided grants and technical support to communities since 1992.
“I have worked with dozens of community groups and municipalities in southeastern Pennsylvania that have benefited from DCNR’s TreeVitalize program over the years,” said Michael Leff, council president and research urban forester with the Davey Institute at the USDA Forest Service Philadelphia Field Station. “I am delighted that the program is being expanded statewide and am pleased that the Pennsylvania Community Forests Council will be able to help make that expansion possible.”
Embracing the theme, “Trees Pay Us Back,” the announcement was made on the Capitol Park grounds in Harrisburg. “Studies have shown that even a single street tree can increase a home’s value and lower its energy use,” Alan said. “TreeVitalize provides local governments, which many times lack urban forestry resources, with the financial and technical tools to encourage tree planting and stewardship. Funding also will now cover a variety of new applications.”
DCNR provides grant assistance, advice on placement and planting care, and selection of proper tree species.
“Beyond what trees will grow best on its Main Street or in its park, a borough or township might also want to know about the rewards of planting certain species,” State Forester Daniel Devlin said. “As the tagged trees around you demonstrate, we now possess the skills and data to tell local communities how a tree ‘pays us back’ — in thousands of dollars over the years.”
The Capitol trees were tagged with data obtained from iTree, a free software program available to home and property owners. Developed by the U.S.D.A. Forest Service and the Davey Tree Co. of Kent, Ohio, the program can be found at www.itreetools.com. It quantifies the dollar value of each tree based on a variety of factors including how the tree increases property value, impacts air quality and helps manage storm runoff.
TreeVitalize partners include: Pennsylvania Community Forests Council; Western Pennsylvania Conservancy; Pennsylvania State University; Department of Environmental Protection; Aqua PA; Philadelphia Eagles; PECO, an Exelon Co.; USDA Forest; Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; Morris Arboretum; and the Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association.
Source: “Corbett Administration Announces Statewide Expansion of TreeVitalize Program” (News Release)