(This 1254th Buffalo Sunday News column was first published on April 5, 2015.)
April is a month when we should think about trees.
When should you purchase and transplant them? Right now, according to landscaper David Beaulieu: "The best time to plant trees is late winter or early spring," he says, and adds, "Summer's a bad choice." At this time trees are still in their winter dormant period and the stress of transplanting is therefore lessened.
Equally important is the question: What tree should I plant? Ken Parker, native plant consultant for the Seneca Indian Nation, stresses that you should select species of all kinds of plants that fit site conditions like soil type, moisture and sun exposure and are appropriate to this immediate region. This last means not only species that occur here but varieties indigenous to within 50 miles of where you will plant them. In choosing a red oak, for example, it is best to find a local specimen. The clear message: ask sellers about the lineage of their trees.
It may seem like overkill after that severe winter and the November 2014 storm that delivered over seven feet of snow to the Southtowns (88 inches in Cowlesville) to remind you of the October 2006 storm that wreaked havoc on this region. That earlier storm is, however, back in the news this month.
Why? Because that storm brought down some 30,000 trees in Buffalo and its suburbs and Re-Tree WNY seeks to complete the replacement of those trees. In many ways it was worse. Nine years after that event, which the National Weather Bureau called Storm Aphid but Buffalonians renamed Arborgeddon, most of us still recall the 22 inches of very heavy snow (the equivalent of 2 1/2 inches of water) that fell on trees that still retained their leaves and so broke and brought down limbs everywhere. Streets were completely closed and roofs and cars were smashed under fallen limbs. Almost 400,000 homes were without electricity and the damage estimate for the cleanup of the 6 to 8.6 million cubic yards of debris was at least $130 million.
Then came the nasty whine of hundreds of chain saws as the remnants of those tree skeletons were taken down. In our yard alone we lost three big ashes in that storm. And as a bit of added punishment, the tree trimmer who took out those trees managed to fell one on our lovely blue spruce, destroying it as well.
As of last September Operation Re-Tree WNY had planted a remarkable 26,565 trees and their goals now are to add the remaining 3435 trees and to train volunteers to help maintain all of our street trees.
Three April events will support just such activities. At 10 a.m. next Saturday, April 11th at the University Heights Tool Library, 5 W. Northrup Place in Buffalo, there will be a demonstration, "How to Plant a Tree". Although anyone can attend, this session is especially designed for members of neighborhood organizations or block clubs that signed up for trees through Re-Tree WNY. Then on Saturday, April 18th, block clubs across Buffalo will be planting hundreds of trees supplied by that program.
This important all-volunteer project headed by Paul Maurer and funded by donations from many individuals and agencies (including a major share by this newspaper) is contributing much to this community. Consider estimates of some of the unseen values 3,000 trees when mature will do for us: they will sequester 1.5 million pounds of carbon and contribute over $400 million in clean air, air pollution control and control of soil erosion. Also, each home with one of these street trees will add 15% to its value. In addition these trees moderate the warmest summer temperatures and contribute to the beauty of our community.
Then on Saturday, April 25th, the 9th annual Enviro-Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Walden Galleria Mall (near the Forever 21 entrance). It is expected that about 30 groups will be represented at fair booths. (Prospective exhibiters can still contact Maurer at or 553-4061 to seek to partipate.)
Included among the exhibits: Erie County Environment and Planning's textile recycling; WaterSense's plumbing items; Eco-Safe's fertilizer and pest control; the Forest Stewardship Council's certified wood and responsible forestry; and CIR Electrical Construction's solar electric installers. Free tree seedlings and Re-Tree shopping bags will be distributed.-- Gerry Rising