For Immediate Release - May 19, 2014

PATRICK ADMINISTRATION CELEBRATES LAUNCH OF URBAN TREE PLANTING PROGRAM IN CHELSEA

CHELSEA – Monday, May 19, 2014 – Patrick Administration officials today joined members of the Chelsea community to celebrate the launch of a new tree planting program aimed at reducing energy use in urban neighborhoods and lowering heating and cooling costs for residents and businesses. Through the Greening the Gateway Cities program, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) will invest $5 million to plant trees in the cities of Chelsea, Fall River and Holyoke between April 2014 and December 2015.

“Greening the Gateway Cities complements our efforts to insulate older residences and has additional benefits of reduced stormwater pollution and cleaner air,” said EEA Secretary Rick Sullivan. “An upfront investment in tree planting in cities like Chelsea will pay back energy and water savings for decades as trees grow and mature, while making the cities greener and more beautiful.”

Planting approximately 15,000 trees in Chelsea, Fall River and Holyoke over the next two years will lead to a 10 percent increase in canopy cover in the targeted neighborhoods, benefitting around 14,000 households. This increase in canopy is expected to reduce heating and cooling costs in the selected areas by approximately 10 percent, 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.

The Commonwealth’s 26 Gateway Cities have lower tree canopy than other areas of the state because of their urban character and history of heavy industry and manufacturing. The targeted areas within Chelsea, Fall River and Holyoke were selected because of their low tree canopy cover, high population density, high wind levels and older, poorly insulated housing.

“As one of the most densely populated cities in the country, Chelsea is in great position to benefit from the Greening the Gateway Cities program,” said City Manager Jay Ash. “I am particularly proud of the work that the Chelsea Department of Public Works, Chelsea Green Space and the Chelsea residents on DCR’s urban forestry team are doing to make Chelsea a better place to live.”

Following a brief speaking program, members of the Patrick Administration planted trees in Bellingham Hill Park, alongside members of Chelsea Green Space, a community partner that is leading outreach efforts to encourage tree planting on private property in Chelsea. The Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) Urban and Community Forestry team and the Chelsea Department of Public Works are partnering to plant trees on both public streets and private land parcels in Chelsea. DCR has hired local workers from Chelsea to work on this project.

"The community value of a healthy urban tree canopy cannot be overstated," said DCR Commissioner Jack Murray. "I am proud of the work that DCR's Urban Forestry team has done to get this program underway in Chelsea, Holyoke, and Fall River."

To carry out the Greening the Gateway Cities program, DCR will partner with city governments and community organizations to plant approximately 15,000 trees by December 2015. EEA has allocated $1 million and the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has committed $4 million in Alternative Compliance Payments (ACP) funds, which retail electricity suppliers have contributed to comply with the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.

We are proud to invest in trees, which are not only beautiful and uplifting for urban communities, but are long-term, frontline allies in meeting our energy and climate goals,” said DOER Commissioner Mark Sylvia. “It is great to see our investment in action as trees are planted in Chelsea, Fall River and Holyoke.”

MassDevelopment, which works closely with the Patrick Administration on the revitalization of Gateway Cities, will document the results of this pilot program and evaluate how it could be scaled up to be implemented in the Commonwealth’s 26 Gateway Cities. This program is expected to leverage private utility investment in green infrastructure, which has a positive impact on energy efficiency and community development.

“Through public-private collaboration, we are making valuable investments in green infrastructure, which saves energy and money while making our Gateway Cities better places to live, work, and play,” said Housing and Economic Development (HED) Secretary Greg Bialecki.

"The Chelsea Collaborative is very excited to be partnering with the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs in this great tree planting program,” said Maria Belen Power, Lead Organizer at the Chelsea Collaborative. “We are seeing our members and residents become really engaged and excited about making our community a greener city, while at the same time reducing our energy consumption."

“The Urban Tree Planting program reflects how important investment is to bringing new life into our communities,” said Senator Sal DiDomenico. “Not only will these trees make our streets and parks more scenic, but the reduced energy use coupled with decreased heating and cooling costs will make urban living better and more affordable.”

The benefits of tree planting programs are greatest when tree canopy is increased over an entire neighborhood. Many major American cities, including Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland (Oregon) and Sacramento have implemented tree planting programs as a way of fighting climate change impacts and storm water infiltration.

Tree planting is part of EEA’s strategy to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets set forth by the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA). The GWSA requires a 25 percent GHG reduction of 1990 levels by 2020 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050.

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