Variety of new trees replace infected ash trees through Leaf a Legacy project

machine moving tree
Heavy machinery was used to move the large, new trees into place for the Leaf a Legacy project. Participating on the project are PLANT WNY, the Buffalo Green Fund, ReTree and the City of Buffalo. Photo courtesy Drew Brown

by Connie Oswald Stofko

The City of Buffalo used to have stately elms lining block after block– until Dutch elm disease wiped them out.

Many of the elms were replaced by ash trees, but now the Emerald Ash Borer has taken its toll on the ash tree.

The good news is that 64 of the ash trees on a section of Delaware Avenue were recently replaced through a Leaf a Legacy project, and the groups involved made sure that the mistake of creating a monoculture wasn’t repeated.

Stumps were removed to make way for new trees. Photo courtesy Drew Brown

The diseased trees were replaced with mature specimens of several different species suitable for an urban environment. These include honey locust, hornbeam, ginkgo biloba and Kentucky coffee. By using many different varieties rather than just one, a threat to just one of the varieties won’t necessitate having to cut down all the trees on the block.

The Emerald Ash Borer kills any tree it infects, posing a significant public safety hazard. There are treatments to prevent the disease, but the inoculations are expensive, have to be done repeatedly and aren’t guaranteed to work, said Cindy Kincaide, board president of the Buffalo Green Fund.

It’s estimated that about 4,000 ash trees will have to be removed from city streets, with thousands more being cut down in parks, on private property and throughout Western New York. The area is also still recovering from damage done to trees during the October Storm of 2006, Kincaide noted.

The Leaf a Legacy project addressed the section of Delaware Avenue between North Street and Gates Circle. That section of street was chosen because it is important to the community in many ways and it includes the Delaware Avenue Historic District.

In the Leaf a Legacy project, dead and dying trees were cut down, the stumps removed and new trees planted.

Participating on the project were PLANT WNY, the Buffalo Green Fund, Re-Tree Western New York and the City of Buffalo.

The cost of Leaf a Legacy is estimated to be in excess of $75,000. PLANT WNY members have donated the labor and are providing all materials at cost. The Buffalo Green Fund and Re-Tree Western New York are fundraising and will match all donations of $600, dollar for dollar, to complete the project.

PLANT WNY is a trade association, a not-for-profit corporation, of green industry professionals (including teachers, nurseries, garden centers, growers, landscapers, tree care firms, lawn care firms and suppliers.) The group was founded in the early 1940s and strives to promote, expand, improve, and elevate landscaping, nursery, and related trades.

The Buffalo Green Fund is a not-for-profit organization incorporated in 1978. Its mission is to promote private contributions to be used for urban and public beautification.

Re-Tree Western New York is working to replace the approximately 30,000 trees in Western New York that were damaged or destroyed during the October 2006 snowstorm. The first planting was on Arbor Day, April 27, 2007, with 2,000 trees.

The City of Buffalo was instrumental in making arrangements for the work on this project to happen, including permitting, said Kincaide. It chose the time of day when traffic on the busy street was calmest and there was the least inconvenience for travelers. Cones were set up to restrict traffic while trees were cut down. The city maintains a database of trees that includes the location, variety and condition of the tree. The city also has representatives on committees with the other groups.

“When you get everybody working together, this is what happens,” Kincaide said.

See another Leaf a Legacy project from 2013 here.

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