At the Arbor Day celebration, from left: Mark Marotis, Newport Open Space Partnership Director Tanya Kelly, Newport Tree Conservancy President Lilly Dick, Rep. Lauren H. Carson, Sen. Dawn Euer, Newport Tree and Open Space Commission Chairwoman Maureen Cronin, Sen. Bridget G. Valverde and Audubon Society of Rhode Island Senior Director of Policy Meg Kerr.

Senator Dawn Euer and Representative Lauren Carson recently held a public celebration of trees and their essential role in Rhode Island’s ecology at the State House.

The event was held Thursday to foster public conversation regarding trees and their stake in our communities. Among those who spoke were Sen. Bridget G. Valverde (D-Dist. 35, North Kingstown, East Greenwich, Narragansett, South Kingstown), Newport Tree Conservancy President Lilly Dick and Sheila Dormody, government relations and cities program manager at The Nature Conservancy.

Speakers discussed the importance of trees to environmental and human health and ongoing legislative efforts to protect woodlands, including the Woodland Stewardship and Preservation Act, sponsored by Senator Valverde. The act recognizes and protects Rhode Island’s woodland habitats.

“An early provider of shelter, medicine and tools, trees remain an integral resource to modern life. Trees contribute to their environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, helping with water conservation and soil preservation, and supporting wildlife and biodiversity,” said Representative Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport).

Said Senator Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), “Rhode Island’s trees and woodlands are key contributors to mitigating climate change. Trees are a natural resource that fundamentally enhance the ecological, social, and economic value of our communities.”

The Arbor Day Foundation recognizes 12 of the 39 cities and towns in Rhode Island — including Newport and Jamestown — as “Tree Cities” due to their commitment to tree care and urban forestry.

“Arbor Day reminds us how important trees and forested landscapes are to the beauty, health and resiliency of Rhode Island. Audubon thanks Senator Valverde for introducing the Woodland Preservation and Stewardship Act of 2019 and we look forward to working with her to help get the bill passed this session,” said Meg Kerr, Senior Director of Policy for the Audubon Society of Rhode Island.

Said Dick, of the Newport Tree Conservancy, “We are temporary stewards of this place we call earth and home — it is our responsibility to leave our children a healthy viable future. Trees and forests are an essential element of this legacy.”