🌳 Newark is hoping to receive federal and state funds to plant more trees

🌳 Planting more trees would be beneficial to the city in many ways

🌳 Residents are needed to help plant thousands of trees in the city

NEWARK — There has been a new push to create a greener Newark by planting more trees.

The Biden administration has offered $1 billion in grants as part of its “Investing in America” plan which includes environmental projects like tree planting.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has offered $1.5 billion for urban forestry revitalization, tree planting, and other forestry and rehabilitation projects, said Nicole Miller, chairwoman of Newark Green Team.

Newark will be applying for any federal money and state money that is being offered. “We need it,” Miller said.

It’s hotter in Newark than in its neighboring towns because it has very little tree canopy, she said.

While public parks like Branch Brook Park, located in the North Ward of Newark is loaded with trees, Miller said urban centers where people live in residential areas, especially in the East Ward, have very few street trees.

So, the City of Newark’s Office of Sustainability, the Department of Water and Sewer, and various environmental groups are trying to remedy this situation by planting more trees and install green infrastructure, Miller said.

Newark tree planting (Photo Credit: NJ Tree Foundation in Forest Hill)
Newark tree planting (Photo Credit: NJ Tree Foundation in Forest Hill)

Why the need for a greener Newark?

Heat without trees or green space can be deadly for both the older and younger populations in Newark, especially in the summer months, Miller said.

So, having a tree canopy where young people can go outside and play, and older people can rest outside comfortably without having to be cooped up inside with no air conditioning, is very essential for Newark, she said.

Trees are also great for people and their energy bills. “Having trees around protects the home with shade and prevents the home from getting too hot. We have opportunities to reduce our energy bills. They’re not using air conditioning as much and that saves our population money, Miller said.

Newark tree planting (Photo Credit: NJ Tree Foundation on Darcy Street)
Newark tree planting (Photo Credit: NJ Tree Foundation on Darcy Street)

The trees in a green space also mean cleaner air. Miller pointed out that there is a lot of industry in Newark and that also means a huge presence of trucks. While these are important for keeping the city’s economy moving, they also have ramifications for the health of its citizens.

“One in four young people in Newark have asthma and some of that is because we have very little filtration. Trees are the lungs of the earth and so we need those lungs in Newark to help our young people,” Miller said.

Planting more trees also creates more job opportunities. Workforce development is underway. People are needed to plant trees and plant green infrastructure. Miller said this is not just a plant-it-once-and-forget-about-it type of job. These trees need to be maintained for years to come so they are healthy and not a burden on residents.

“Our green infrastructure also provides storm water capture benefits so we don’t have too much flooding. We can help with some of the other toxic water issues that the city might be facing. So, green infrastructure and trees, in general, have a great part to play for the city in many different aspects,” Miller said.

Where does the city of Newark stand in regard to grant applications?

Newark has several grant applications in place both at the federal and state level. But Miller said there are green infrastructure projects in the ground that are in place now, as well as training projects so that people can get green infrastructure certification training to put these projects in the ground.

Once the grant applications go through, hopefully by fall, Miller said the city of Newark will then know how much grant money they will receive.

Green Fest
Green Fest

How can the public get involved to make Newark greener?

Residents are invited to learn more about tree planting around the city.

Miller said The Newark Green Team is holding its 2nd Annual Green Fest Newark on June 10 in Military Park, 51 Park Place in Newark. Members will be on hand to answer any questions and help direct citizens to workforce development options so they can be prepared to take advantage of the many opportunities that await them.

The New Jersey Tree Foundation also has volunteer opportunities for people to plant trees. There are plenty of opportunities to plant during the spring and summer and fall planting volunteers are also needed.

What kind of trees will be planted around Newark?

An assortment of trees will be planted around the streets of Newark, Miller said. These include red bud, fruit, and flowering trees. But whatever the variety, she said these trees will be native and non-invasive.

While thousands are expected to be planted, she said the work has to be done in increments. So, the idea is to plant 50, 70, or maybe 200 trees at a time to rehabilitate the Newark tree canopy. This involves year-round employment and not seasonal work.

“The trees that we’re planting now are the right trees at the right places and they are not going to be pulling up the sidewalk. They are not going to be in the way of the power lines. We’re going to be working with our residents to make sure that they’re excited about the trees, that they’re helping to maintain them, and that they grow healthy,” Miller said.

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at jennifer.ursillo@townsquaremedia.com

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