For a couple of years now Tree Eastie has been trying to rekindle the neighborhood’s grassroots effort to get more trees planted in East Boston.
Tree Eastie’s Bill Masterson has been on a crusade to get the neighborhood’s tree canopy closer to the average tree canopy in other Boston neighborhoods.
“There’s a lot of benefits the trees have unfortunately in East Boston, we suffer from the lowest tree canopy in the city,” said Masterson at a community meeting last week. “East Boston’s tree canopy is at 7%. The city average is 27% and you know as residents that when you walk around the neighborhood you can see an overall lack of trees.”
At the meeting Masterson said Tree Eastie will have a pretty busy spring planting trees thanks to grant money given to the cause.
“So we have grant money to be able to plant street trees,” said Masterson. “We also have some alliances and some benefactors who are asking us to help them site tree plantings. The first is the Temple Ohabei Shalom Cemetery on Wordsworth Street, which is the oldest Jewish Cemetery in Eastern, Massachusetts. They’re celebrating their 180th anniversary and 180 is a big number in the Jewish community in terms of significance, so they want to plant 18 trees in the area of the cemetery. There’s already enough trees in the cemetery so we’re going to plant trees both at Constitution Beach as well as the Salesian Boys & Girls Club. We’ve met with Mike Triant at the Boys & Girls Club and the kids are going to help us. We’re going to do an education piece with it as well.”
Masterson said Tree Eastie focused on Eagle Hill when planting street trees last fall. With Eagle Hill being one of the worst urban heat islands in Eastie, Masterson said Tree Eastie wanted to plant trees where the heat islands are the most severe.
“So we’ve identified spots in Orient Heights, as well as Harbor View, that need street trees and we’ll be planting 30 new street trees in those two neighborhoods in April and May,” said Masterson. “This year we are also going to focus on Maverick and Central Square and then Jeffries Point. We have just received, along with Speak for the Trees, a large grant from Delta Airlines.”
Masterson said that money will be used to plant 40 new street trees across these areas.
“Again, we will focus on those high heat island areas,” he said.
Tree Eastie also plans to plant more fruit trees at the Rockies in Jeffries Point across from Piers Park.
“We’ve developed a really cool relationship with Eastie Farm to be able to take the harvest from those trees, which include apple trees, peach trees, pear trees, cherry trees and mulberry, and put those fruits back into the community through Eastie Farm,” said Masterson. “This is done through distributing the food to folks that need it as well as putting it into the Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program that they’ve established.”
In the end Masterson, all the efforts of Tree Eastie and community volunteers will result in a healthier Eastie.
“In addition to not having enough trees in East Boston, which provide shade through the canopy, we have several heat islands,” said Masterson. “These areas of the community heat up during those hot summer days. The asphalt heats and the temperature of the asphalt doesn’t have a chance to be able to cool because there’s no trees around. So in terms of the benefits of trees, and what advantages they provide us in addition to reducing stress and noise and air pollution, they cool off the streets. They also filter stormwater, increase property values and add beauty to the neighborhood.”