Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Michael Nutter and Michael DiBerardinis, deputy mayor for environmental and community resources, offered a Valentine's Day present to the citizens of Philadelphia by announcing the city's new tree giveaway program.
At the launch of TreePhilly, a campaign led by Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, the Mayor was presented with a $75,000 check from Wells Fargo & Company, which is partnering in the program, along with the Fairmount Conservancy. The public-private partnership is an "exciting new model for investing in our natural resources," the Mayor said.
The program represents an effort to "connect individual citizens to restoring the city's tree canopy," said DiBerardinis, who called it "quite frankly, the only way that we're going to get to the Mayor's ambitious goal of 300,000 new trees in the city."
To that end, a brochure about the program is heavy on sales, emphasizing the benefits of trees and debunking myths, such as fears of uprooted ground and heavy leaf litter, that can keep city dwellers from planting them.
Tuesday's presentation was short on details on how the initiative will work and how many trees will be available, but the brochure and a web site, TreePhilly.org, include forms for residents to request yard trees.
They also present some ground rules. Applicants much be Philadelphia property owners, and they must submit their form by March 31. The free trees will be available for pick up at a series of "distribution events" scheduled for between April 22 and April 27, at thus far undisclosed locations.
A variety of species are available, including dogwoods, crabapples, magnolias, and redbuds. Experts are promised to be on hand to help residents choose the appropriate tree, and the web site encourages new tree owners to plant their tree in the ground within fifteen days. Such a requirement would seem to limit a host of postage-stamp backyards in Center City and South Philly.
The web site also features links for citizens to request street trees (from the Streets Department, first, then from Parks & Rec), and for them to provide recommendations for places to plant trees on city-owned property such as parks, rec centers, libraries, and fire and police stations. And, the site provides information on caring for and pruning trees.
Before concluding the event, Mayor Nutter reminded those in attendance that planting yard trees is a move "toward [looking at] how we improve this city and this region for future generations."
Officials then presented Kim Washington, president of the Frankford Parks Group, with a small tree in an effort to showcase the initiative's planned outreach efforts with neighborhood groups.
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