NYC students to plant trees in Croton Watershed through WAC Forestry Education Bus Tours

Yorktown Heights, NY- In an ongoing effort to prevent streambank erosion and to protect drinking water quality, the Watershed Agricultural Council’s Watershed Forestry Bus Tour Program, a part of the larger Urban-Rural School Based Education Initiative (UREI), will be engaging students from four New York City schools and one New York City non-profit in riparian buffer tree planting at Hilltop Hanover Farm in the Croton Watershed.

The riparian site, adjacent to a crop field, is now part of Hilltop Hanover’s outdoor educational classroom, providing landowners and workshop attendees with a practical, hands-on example of how land improvements, like strategic tree plantings, can improve property values, decrease flood potential and enhance wildlife populations. The initial planting occurred in 2010 by volunteers from IBM and Pace University. Over time some of the planted trees have died and are in need of replacement. This year the planting effort will expand southward along the surrounding wetland and continue down the stream ensuring expanded streambank and erosion protection.

The 10 year goal for the tree plantings is a healthy river system in which the tree canopies touch, also known as canopy closure. Some of the faster growing trees like the Sycamore are already beginning to touch from the initial 2010 planting. Tree tubes will be installed over every tree to protect them from deer damage, and will be removed when the trees reach 8-9 feet in height. After tube removal bark protection is put in place for further defense. The trees are maintained every spring to ensure healthy growth. Pruning, cleaning of tubes, cutting vines and replacement of stakes as needed, are a few of the measures taken for prosperity.

This year’s participant schools for the Trees for Tribs Bus Tour are: Mark Twain Intermediate School 239 for the Gifted and Talented (located in Coney Island, NY) on May 14th, Middle School 138Q Sunrise (Queens, NY) on May 18th, Irwin Altman Middle School 172 (Glen Oaks, NY) on May 19th, The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria (Queens, NY) on May 20th, as well as The Manhattan-based City Parks Foundation on June 6th, who also received a grant to plant trees with a group of students participating in their Green Girls and Westside Collaborative School SONYC (School’s Out NYC) after school programs.

In addition to digging holes, carefully planting the trees, installing protective tubes and labels around the young trees, the students enjoy hands-on activities that explore the surrounding farm and forest environments. Through forest hikes, water quality testing, and group games, the students discover how trees work to maintain water quality in the NYC watershed. The students also learn about what threatens forests and water quality and what people – like them! – are doing to be good stewards of their watershed. Each school will bring approximately 50 students and several chaperones to conduct a 2-hour planting. This year alone 250 trees will be planted by participating students to advance the buffer started in 2010.

Students participating in this year’s planting at Hilltop Hanover Farm.