WESTFIELD — The Greening the Gateway Cities tree planting program, formerly confined to downtown sections of wards 2 and 3, is expanding its eligible planting zone to encompass all environmental justice neighborhoods in Westfield, increasing the area where the state will plant trees for free, upon request.

The new boundaries stretch down Routes 10 and 202 to Old County, Old State and Buck Pond roads on the city’s north side, then back down East Mountain Road and Owen District Road to Springdale Road and Union Street, crossing through wards 1, 5 and 6 along the way.

The Greening the Gateway Cities program, part of the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and Department of Conservation and Recreation, is designed to bring the energy efficiency and environmental benefits of a healthy tree canopy to Gateway Cities, former industrial cities identified by the state for targeted redevelopment efforts. So far, over 8,000 trees have been planted in 13 cities, which locally also include Chicopee and Holyoke.

Along with higher energy efficiency, Gateway Cities are expected to see benefits such as a reduction in stormwater runoff, better air quality, an increase in property values and tax receipts, and a safer, healthier environment for residents.

Agma Sweeney, president of the Westfield Puerto Rican Association, which partnered last year with the Greening the Gateway Cities program to promote tree planting in Westfield with a “Say Yes to the Trees” campaign, celebrated the program’s expansion in Westfield in a letter to the City Council.

“We are thrilled to contribute by singing our praises about the wonderful GGCP program because planting trees is one of the nicest and most effective things we can do for our families, our neighborhoods, our city and our planet,” Sweeney said.

Residents and business owners who are interested in having free trees planted on their properties should contact the program office serving Westfield to schedule an appointment by calling 617-626-1473, and leaving their name, address (including city) and telephone number. A forester will respond to schedule a visit. Urban Forester Sarah Greenleaf is leading the Westfield program.

Trees are typically planted from April to June in the spring season and September to November in the fall season. Foresters conduct site visits year round. For more information on the program, visit maurbancanopy.org.

In the first three years of the program in Westfield, 208 trees were planted in 2021, 138 trees in 2022, and 271 trees last year.

amyporter@thewestfieldnews.com | + posts