Dig they must

If it seems there have been more trees sprouting throughout Red Hook, that’s because there are.

In fact, in the last four years, volunteers from the Town of Red Hook’s Tree Preservation Commission, along with community helpers, have planted 354 trees along major highways, in the Recreation Park, along the Sawkill Creek and at St. Margaret’s Home.

The town and the village participated in the state Department of Transportation’s Main Street Planting program, which provided 50 large caliper trees that were planted along the Rt. 9 and Rt. 199 corridors in front of cooperating local business properties.

The commission also won a two-year $7,982 Urban Forestry grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which went to tree purchases and a computerized inventory of the town’s tree assets. A team assembled by Cornell Cooperative Extension did the inventory, which provides basic information on the quantity and quality of various tree species and identifies appropriate new planting spaces. The inventory data has also been converted into a booklet, as a first step in formalizing a written Forestry Management Plan to compliment Red Hook’s local tree ordinance.

The DEC grant provided for 32 tree plantings. So far, 21 trees have been planted on Rockefeller Lane, at the Recreation Park, Guski Road, St. Margaret’s Home and Town Hall. Eleven more trees are scheduled to be planted in the spring. A listing of all the trees planted to date will be available the town’s website, which is under construction.

In addition, each spring and fall, the commission distributes bare-rooted tree seedlings to local residents during Arbor Day, Appleblossom Day and Hardscrabble Day; it also hands out “Tree Owner Manual” booklets and general information about the care and health of trees. Members attend various tree-related workshops to provide the latest information for the public.

Trees improve air quality, provide shade for pedestrians and bicyclists, moderate roadway heat-effects and slow down erosion along stream banks, according to a news release from the commission. The large caliper trees and shrubs are planted in public rights-of-way and public spaces throughout the town, aided by several local businesses that offer their expertise, employees and machinery to help defray costs.

Commission members work with the local schools to promote outdoor education on the local ecosystems and identification of tree species through bark and leaf identification. The elementary school participates in developing and maintaining the school’s Nature Trail. Also, a yearly “tree-themed” poster contest is conducted for grades K-5 at Mill Road School, with participants all receiving book markers, stickers and tree cookie necklaces are given to all participants. The poster winners receive a tree book and their posters are displayed within the community.

Anyone who would like to volunteer services or goods can contact commission chairwoman Nancy Guski at the Red Hook Town Hall: 845-758-4600.

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