The West Pittston Shade Tree Commission (WPSTC) had another successful year in 2012. This past year, the WPSTC completed their second and final TreeVitalize grant awarded in the amount of $2,370. This final grant along with the West Pittston's Shade Tree Commission's own cash match of $2,370 provided a total of $4,740 to plant a total of 33-street trees throughout the borough at no cost to homeowners.
Trees improve our social and economic environment by providing many benefits that make our community more attractive: They increase the value of our homes and businesses, increase the value of rental properties, calm traffic, reduce storm water runoff, reduce maintenance to pavements and reduce stress, stated Diane Mansi, program coordinator.
In 2011, the WPSTC completed their first TreeVitalize grant which was awarded in 2009 and required a span of two-years to complete. The awarded amount of $11,000 had a cash match of $11,000for a total amount of $22,000. The funding supported the WPSTC planting of 16 trees in Morris Park, removal of19-hazardous trees in the borough and planting of 24 street trees at no cost to homeowners.
The TreeVitalize initiative is a response to an alarming trend of the loss of trees in Pennsylvania's metropolitan areas. It is a public-private partnership to help restore tree cover, educate citizens about planting trees as an act of caring for our environment, and build capacity among local governments to understand, protect and restore their urban trees.
According to the TreeVitalize website the goal of the program is to plant one million trees by the end of 2012. These are to include larger caliper trees for city streets, parks, and other public property; seedlings in buffer plantings along streams to reduce erosion and improve water quality; and those purchased by homeowners for planting on private property with a TreeVitalize rebate discount. An additional goal is to train 10,000 volunteers in basic tree biology and tree care to assist their communities in establishing and maintaining new plantings.
Ultimately, the goal of TreeVitalize is to establish strong urban forestry partnerships in all 14-Pennsylvania metropolitan areas and to build local capacity for sustaining the urban forest resource.
The WPSTC officers for 2012 are: Mike McHugh, president; Lou Berti, vice president; Ron Orth, treasurer; Tadd Morris, assistant treasurer; Diane Mansi, secretary.