Stewardship to care for community trees
Volunteers keep trees alive and well over the summer
Moving to the next phase of a Community Tree Planting Program, Conservation Montgomery (CM) launched a volunteer effort as a pilot project to keep newly planted trees watered and well over the long hot summer months. Organized as "Summer Tree Stewards" local volunteers from the county have watered and monitored trees planted in Silver Spring over the past two planting seasons.
Native Maryland trees were planted by CM during the past fall and spring to try and counter loss of urban trees in Down County Silver Spring neighborhoods. Planting sites were determined using a GIS mapping tool that allows the county to target areas where tree canopy is most diminished.
"Unless these new trees are watered and cared for in their first two to three years, their survival rate will be low," said Caren Madsen a Conservation Montgomery volunteer who is organizing the tree stewards project this summer. "Often well-meaning residents or volunteers plant new trees and then leave them on their own with no maintenance or after-care. But young trees need a lot of TLC, especially in harsh urban environments."
Tree Steward Ben Mao kneels beside his adopted tree: 'Gorby,' the Happiest Maple in Silver Spring
Summer Tree Stewards were trained and then allowed to choose their adopted tree for the summer. Several volunteers have named their trees; for example "Gorby" and "Birchie" are two named trees in the project. Volunteers report in each time they water by text or e-mail, noting the number of gallons of water the tree received and on what date the tree was watered. Middle and high school students are earning Student Service Learning (SSL) hours for their efforts. "I've learned a lot about caring for the environment during my participation in the Tree Stewards program," said Ben Mao, a high school student from Silver Spring. "Without trees, people would get sunburned in the summer every time they step outside. Trees provide shade and release oxygen so people don't suffocate as there is only so much oxygen in the atmosphere. They reduce pollution because they take in carbon dioxide.Otherwise the air we breathe would not be healthy."
Mao has been in charge of tree #10 which he nicknamed "Gorby" early in the summer. Mao says he learned an important lesson right away -- that young trees need at least 25 gallons of water a week in the hottest parts of the summer months.
"Trees are also vulnerable to gnawing by deer and insects," Mao said. "Luckily my tree was not gnawed on. I hope Gorby will have a prosperous life. I will miss taking care of Gorby. He's made me realize how fragile our planet is, but also how much we can change the environment just by planting one tree."
Celebrate with us!
On Sept. 8th, CM will hold a Summer Tree Stewards Appreciation Event in Montgomery Hills Park at 10 a.m. Please join us to help congratulate our first class of Conservation Montgomery Summer Tree Stewards.
Next opportunities to volunteer with Conservation Montgomery:
Support our efforts
Consider donating to the Conservation Montgomery Tree Planting Fund by clicking here.
Your donation can help purchase native Maryland trees for planting this fall or spring of 2013. Conservation Montgomery is using data from the Montgomery County Tree Canopy study to identify sections of the county where tree canopy is most diminished. We are targeting those communities for planting projects.