Newport Tree Conservancy is launching a volunteer program designed to increase community involvement in the city’s urban forest.
“These are our community trees,” said Natasha Harrison, executive director of Conservancy. “These belong to every Newporter. They’re along our streets, they’re in our public parks, so it’s really rewarding for people to work together for a common cause.
The conservation mission is to protect and care for the city’s trees, as Newport itself is one of the only city-wide arboreta in the country, according to Harrison. Due to the large number and different types of trees in the town, Harrison said the importance of foliage to water and air quality on Aquidneck Island makes their maintenance essential.
“We’re really known for our trees, so we should really love its part of Newport’s pull and the beauty of Newport,” Harrison said. “So beyond health (of the environment), we all want to keep our city special, and our trees make us special.”
The new volunteer program, the Tree Corps, will be the Conservancy’s regular maintenance team, watering and mulching trees around town, but she said volunteer opportunities for those who are not able or who are not interested in physical labor might show up later. .
The program has been in the planning phase for some time, but the organization needed more equipment to support the work that would be done under the new program. After submitting a funding proposal from the Champlin Philanthropic Foundation to purchase a truck, the group received the money to purchase a Ford F150 that will allow them to transport water and mulch to different locations.
“The bottom line was to get the vehicle,” Harrison said. “The idea was great, but how do you get the water and the mulch in. Sure, the city has been very helpful, but it’s really a lot of work for them to reach every tree and mulch every one of them, and water every one of them, they have a lot to do. The Champlin Foundation understood that the truck was the key to everything and funded us for this beautiful truck.
Harrison said many of the saplings planted by the Conservancy and the city require a lot of care in the first few years of planting. Volunteers will learn how to take care of these trees without damaging them by working with professional horticulturalists on the reserve.
“It’s really vital, we can just do better and more working with committed volunteers and volunteering is, you know, for people who want to help and aren’t big philanthropists and big donors, you know, that kind. elbow grease and hard work, it goes a long way for every person if you put in just a few hours in your community.
The Conservancy plans to host the Tree Corps Earth Day launch event on April 22, where volunteers of all experience levels can mulch newly planted trees in Morton Park. Interested volunteers can register on the conservancy’s website at https://www.newporttreeconservancy.org/volunteer.
“Collectively we can all make a difference together and I feel like our organization has the opportunity to make a bigger difference,” said Harrison. “It’s even more important now that we encourage some kind of community involvement and it’s also a healthy activity to be outside and take care of the trees. It doesn’t get any healthier than that.