Bennett Hazlip: Time for Amherst to fund tree planting

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Thursday, June 23, 2022
Time for Amherst to fund tree planting

How much do Amherst residents love our trees? It’s difficult to measure. The recent debate over a solar development moratorium led to more discussions of trees and their importance than we’ve heard in years. And many residents will tell you that they chose to live in Amherst in part because of our wealth of parks, nature trails, and trees. Amherst just feels like a town that appreciates and respects trees. 

Keeping our public shade trees healthy – and making sure we continue planting enough to ensure future generations in Amherst can enjoy them – doesn’t happen naturally. These outcomes are the result of good planning, execution and budgeting.

Comparing our town’s budget for tree planting and care to that of, say, Northampton, you’d have to conclude that we actually don’t care much about trees. That’s not true, of course, but budgets reflect community priorities, and the fact is that we currently do not have a line item in the town budget dedicated to trees.

But what if we did? With a steady, predictable budget, the town could plant more trees, take better care of those that need a little TLC, and ensure that Amherst is a model for environmental sustainability for decades to come – and who knows what those decades will bring?

It seems certain that we’ll need more trees for what’s next. Today, the Amherst Public Shade Tree Committee plants dozens of new trees each month during the growing season, funded entirely through financial gifts and in-kind donations. The town could multiply these efforts with dedicated, annual budgetary support.

Amherst Town Council, let’s start by creating a new line item for public shade trees to reflect our town’s values and environmental stewardship. 

Bennett Hazlip


This letter is written on behalf of the Amherst Public Shade Tree Committee.