July 16-18, 2009
New York State’s Urban Forestry program and the NYS Urban and Community Forestry Council recently co-sponsored the 17th Annual New York State ReLeaf Conference, Greening the Big Apple: Forestry from the Streets on July 16 to 18, at Pratt Institute. For three days, over 235 urban environmentalists from across New York State gathered at the Pratt Institute campus in Brooklyn to participate in a series of activities including workshops, tours, ceremonies, and a picnic.
New York ReLeaf is a state program promoting management and care of our state’s community trees. It is a cooperative effort by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and the NYS Urban and Community Forestry Council, with funding from the USDA Forest Service.
The conference included the planting of a memorial tree on the grounds of Pratt to celebrate the life and volunteerism of urban tree advocate, Susan Kalin, who passed away suddenly last fall. Susan spearheaded the conference planning at Pratt and was a dedicated champion and steward of New York City’s street trees for many years.
The opening ceremony included speakers such as:
* Adrian Benepe, Commissioner, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
* Margarita Lopez, Commissioner, NYC Housing Authority
* Suzanne Mattei, Regional Director, NYSDEC Region 2
* Patricia Tobin, Council President, NYS Urban & Community Forestry
Other highlights included:
* Workshops spanning the Research, Best Management Practices and Community areas of interests
* Tours via chartered buses to sites including Hollenback Community Garden and to Fort Greene & Clinton Hill, where the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation is sponsoring “Take Back the Pavement” tree bed expansion project
* Greenwood Cemetery Tour which featured breathtaking views of the varied topography and hilltops while displaying the cemetery’s unique efforts to sustain its tree canopy
* Prospect Park & Brooklyn Botanic Garden Tour included a visit to Prospect Park, which has been restored through a public/private partnership between the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation and the Prospect Park Alliance, and the world-renowned Brooklyn Botanic Garden, with its 52 acres of expertly tended trees and a variety of special gardens
* Pennsylvania and Fountain Avenue Landfills Tour includes hiking up and down the previously abandoned landfills that now the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation is working to restore with some innovative reforestation techniques
* Newtown Creek Community & Restoration Project Tour which included visiting sites that signify the trends of access, environmental remediation and public-private partnerships that are on the rise in this watershed.