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Fighting the green fight in the nabe - Locals spruce up trees along Manhattan Avenue through Parks Department initiative

Parks Department staff and volunteers from the community spread out on Manhattan and Greenpoint avenues Saturday morning to give Greenpoint’s trees a little tender loving care.

“The plan today is to point out that maintaining trees is as important as planting them,” said Mallory Mahoney, a Parks Department employee.

Members of Green Apple Core, a division of the Parks Department, assembled about a dozen volunteers to clean tree pits, water trees, weed and aerate soil along a row of linden trees on Manhattan Avenue.

The tree maintenance workshop is part of the Parks Department and the New York Restoration Project’s Million Trees Initiative. While Green Apple Core mainly focuses on urban forestry ecological restoration in the city’s woodsier parks in the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island, Parks Department staff members joined volunteer efforts to care for between 50

and 70 Greenpoint trees.

“The whole point of this is to get people to do it themselves,” Mahoney said at the clean-up, as she used a large metal lever to unscrew the top off a fire hydrant. “We teach kids this, but adults are the ones who are going to be out here maintaining the trees.”

One of the most celebrated parts of PlaNYC 2030, the city’s long-term urban planning designs, has been the planting of one million trees over the next decade. Maintaining young trees through regular watering and mulching is considered critical to accomplishing this goal.

According to Jason Stein, a Green Apple Core member, trees remove pollutants from the air in addition to creating oxygen and reducing the temperature of the city in the summer.

“Young trees struggle and might have a shorter lifespan if they are not maintained,” Stein said.

City trees undergo considerable amounts of stress from being present in urban neighborhoods. Air pollution, animal waste, soil getting stepped on, deposits of cigarette butts, and close proximity to power lines can stunt the growth of new trees.

“We haven’t seen a lot of animal waste here,” said Natalie Wesson, a Parks Department employee, who was busily carrying buckets of water to several tree pits. “We’ve done a lot of work in the south Bronx and there’s a lot more animal waste there.”

Mahoney, Wesson and Stein hope that more volunteers will come out to future tree planting and maintenance events in their communities. While they may not be in Greenpoint for a while, they feel confident that community members will be able to take care of saplings and young trees planted as part of the Million Trees Initiative’s drive to green city streets.

Mahoney, who has done volunteer work in Bloomington, Ind., where she grew up and in Greensboro, NC, where she used to live, believes that the spirit of volunteerism in Brooklyn is strong and the interest in keeping the city green has been increasing over the past few years.

“The good thing about New York is that people are more active and there are more opportunities to get involved,” said Mahoney.

For more information about Green Apple Core’s next volunteer efforts in the borough and the Million Trees Initiative, visit www.parks.nyc.gov.

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