With gusto, second-graders at Monsignor Gadoury Regional Catholic School, Woonsocket, spread mulch on their just-planted European Beech tree today. One day, the European beech tree may look like this one: 60 feet high with a 40-foot spread and lustrous leaves that are dark green in the summer and turn russet brown/golden bronze in autumn. Credit: Central Park Conservancy

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), in partnership with the Rhode Island Tree Council and National Grid has awarded $15,000 in grants for urban forestry projects across Rhode Island. The grants were announced this morning as part of an Arbor Day celebration in Woonsocket. Governor Gina M. Raimondo read a proclamation at the ceremony declaring today the 132ndanniversary of Arbor Day in Rhode Island.

“I’m proud of Rhode Island’s long tradition of celebrating Arbor Day and protecting our treasured tree resources,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “In addition to helping preserve and enrich our environment, trees play an important part in supporting quality of life and beautifying our communities. I can think of few things more relaxing than sitting beneath a shade tree and connecting with nature.”

“We are thrilled to be coming to Woonsocket for RI Arbor Day,” said RI Tree Chair Doris Alberg. “It’s a wonderful community with many fine historic buildings, restaurants and cultural centers.  Come, join us as we plant a grove of shade trees to add to the city’s beauty for everyone to enjoy.” 

“National Grid is committed to being at the forefront of the clean energy transition,” said Terry Sobolewski, president of National Grid Rhode Island. “This includes modernizing our gas and electric systems to support a pathway to the ‘80×50’ goals. It also means investing in initiatives that benefit the environment and quality of life in our communities.  We’re proud to support DEM’s annual Arbor Day celebration and the role it has in educating more people about the importance of Rhode Island’s trees.” 

Seven America the Beautiful: Tree Rhode Island grants were awarded. The grants, made possible by the U.S. Forest Service with $22,500 in matching local funds, will fund tree plantings, educational programming, and community outreach. To date, DEM has awarded more than $5 million in grants under this program.  Funded projects are as follows:

  • City of Central Falls – $3,000 matched by $4,500 for tree planting in Central Falls as part of a neighborhood revitalization project
  • City of Woonsocket – $3,000 matched by $4,500 to implement a set-back tree planting program
  • Middletown Tree Association – $1,500 matched by $2,250 to plant and maintain trees at Middletown Valley Park
  • Providence Forestry – $2,000 matched by $3,000 to create a website where Providence residents and stakeholders can learn about the forthcoming Urban Forest Plan process and access the recently completed Providence street tree inventory
  • The Compass School -$1,500 matched by $2,250 to establish a food forest demonstration site at The Compass School Farm
  • West Bay Land Trust – $1,500 matched by $2,250 to conduct outreach and publicity for the Cranston Neighborhood Tree Planting Program
  • Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council – $2,500 matched by $3,750 to plant native trees along the Woonaquatucket River Greenway Bike Path

In addition to these awards, several municipalities were recognized for their efforts to green local communities as part of the National Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA program: Bristol, Central Falls, Cranston, East Providence, Jamestown, Middletown, Narragansett, Newport, Portsmouth, Providence, Warren, Warwick, and West Warwick.  Salve Regina University was recognized for its participation in the Foundation’s Tree Campus USA program. 

Each year, Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday of April to mark the importance of trees to our environment, culture, and economy.  The first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska in 1872 with more than one million tree plantings. Rhode Island began celebrating the day in 1887. 

For more information about DEM divisions and programs, visit www.dem.ri.gov.  Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.