CHICOPEE — At a tree-planting ceremony at Fredericks Park in Revere, state Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton announced an initiative to expand the Greening the Gateway Cities Program (GGCP) to include the cities of Chicopee and Revere. The program, which targets the Commonwealth’s 26 gateway cities, is designed to utilize tree plantings as a way to reduce energy use in urban neighborhoods and lower heating and cooling costs for residents and businesses.
“By extending the Greening the Gateway Cities Program to include the communities of Revere and Chicopee, our administration continues its commitment to work closely with cities and towns across the Commonwealth to provide resources that benefit municipalities and improve the state’s environment,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.
Added Beaton, “increased tree canopy will provide our communities with the first, and best, line of defense from excessive urban summer heat and the biting winds of winter. In addition to benefiting the Commonwealth in terms of energy efficiency, the Greening the Gateway Cities Program will provide the residents of Revere and Chicopee with cleaner air and water, reduced noise pollution, and the beatification of homes and neighborhoods within their community.”
With a defined goal of a 10% increase in urban tree canopy in selected neighborhoods within gateway cities, the increase in tree cover is expected to reduce heating and cooling costs in the selected areas by approximately 10%, with an average homeowner saving approximately $230 a year, once the trees reach maturity. Over their lifespan, the trees are expected to lead to $400 million in energy savings for residents and businesses.
Aimed at improving the often-low tree canopy found in the Commonwealth’s gateway cities due to their urban character and history of manufacturing, the program’s benefits are not isolated to energy efficiency. By planting trees, communities will see a reduction in stormwater runoff, higher air quality, an increase in property values and tax receipts, and a safer, healthier environment for residents.
Under the program, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is spearheading tree-planting efforts and is in the process of planting up to a combined 15,000 trees in Holyoke, Chelsea, and Fall River. Agency staff, working in partnership with local municipalities and grass-roots organizations, have developed a successful approach to planting the number of trees required to have an energy impact, focusing on high-density urban neighborhoods, where planting on average 10 trees per acre will provide benefits to 15 to 25 households. Planting this number of trees will increase canopy by an estimated 1% in eight years, and 10% in 30 years.
“The Greening the Gateway Cities Program is not only an important tool in our overall urban forestry plan, but will be an engine for job creation and energy sustainability in these communities,” said DCR Commissioner Carol Sanchez. “DCR is proud to continue the long-standing partnership between the Bureau of Forestry and the cities of Chicopee, Revere, Chelsea, Holyoke, and Fall River. With the help of local community and grass-roots organizations, GGCP will pay dividends in these high-density urban communities where green space is needed most.”
To implement the expansion of the Greening the Gateway Cities Program, the DCR will partner with the city governments of Chicopee and Revere and community groups to plant approximately 100 trees this June, and thousands more to come. The program will also benefit the cities’ local economies by creating jobs for residents. DCR will hire local workers for tree-planting teams in each city, and every tree will be purchased from Massachusetts nurseries.
“The City of Chicopee greatly appreciates the Commonwealth’s commitment to our city and its neighborhoods by providing us with a number of replacement trees,” said Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos. “As a gateway city, positive impact on neighborhoods and our community as a whole will be measured.”
Added state Sen. James Welch (D-West Springfield), “Greening the Gateway Cities is a great fit for Chicopee, and I am pleased that its residents will benefit not only from the energy-saving and environmental aspects of the program, but also from the beautification of their neighborhoods as the tree planting progresses.”