Worcester Tree Initiative Partners with Pakachoag Church for Giveaway Event

Auburn residents are in for a tree-t.  The Worcester Tree Initiative (WTI) is once again offering a free tree giveaway on April 27th at Pakachoag Church.  All you need to do is register, decide what kind of tree or trees you would like, and attend a half hour training session at Pakachoag Church.  If you received trees at the giveaway last October, and received training at that session, you do not need to attend another training.

Beetle Battle

So, why would anyone be giving away free trees?  Since Auburn was included in the ALB regulated zone in May 2011, the town has been eligible for certain

Boundary of ALB regulated area, bordered by Oxford St., Auburn St., and Millbury St encompassing a large part of Pakachoag Hill.

Boundary of ALB regulated area, bordered by Oxford St., Auburn St., and Millbury St encompassing a large part of Pakachoag Hill.

replanting programs, though no beetles have been detected in Auburn.

Most programs focus on organizations and public spaces like schools, parks and tree belts.  For instance, the United States Department of Agriculture and MA Department of Conservation and Recreation planted approximately 30 trees at the Pappas Recreation Complex under ALB reforestation programs. 

The WTI was established in 2009 in response to the massive loss of trees related to the Asian Longhorn Beetle outbreak and the December 2008 ice storm.  As a private non-profit organization, the WTI in some ways enjoys greater flexibility in its efforts than do government agencies. WTI trees are given to organizations and towns, but also to individuals.

Former Worcester mayor and Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray along with Congressman Jim McGovern founded the WTI with personal funds.  They recruited additional private donors and set about replacing the some 28,000 trees that have been removed from Worcester since the ALB infestation was discovered in 2008.

First Event a Success

Since its founding, the WTI has planted over 30,000 trees in Worcester, Holden, West Boylston and Shrewsbury.  This will be WTI’s second giveaway and planting event in Auburn.  Last October, WTI placed about 100 trees, training over 50 residents in proper planting and care.  The event was held in pouring rain, so hopefully this year Mother Nature will be somewhat more cooperative!

“Parts of Auburn are in the ALB regulated zone, including here on Pakachoag Hill” said Ruth Seward, WTI’s Program Coordinator.  “We have done many giveaways and plantings in Worcester and other affected towns.”

Pakachoag Church seems a natural fit to stage these giveaway events.  Pakachoag opened its doors for Auburn’s first ALB informational meeting back in May 2011.  At the time, Asian longhorn beetles had been found just across the Worcester border on Electric St.  Following the containment and eradication protocol, a 1.5 mile buffer zone was established around the infestation, drawing sections of Auburn into the ALB regulated zone.

trees awaiting pickup at last October's tree giveaway event.

trees awaiting pickup at last October’s tree giveaway event.

 

Auburn residents who reside in the affected have been eligible to receive free ALB resistant trees through several USDA and MA DCR programs.  The WTI program is different in that any resident of an affected community can apply for and receive free trees.

“There are a variety of trees.  We want diversity and beetle resistance” said trainer and tree expert Derek Lirange. All of the WTI trees are ALB resistant.

“The Worcester Tree Initiative gives trees to both individuals and organizations” said Seward.  ”All recipients are trained about the proper places to plant their trees, as well as how to maintain the tree.”

In fact, every recipient must attend a short training session on the day of the giveaway event.  The training is about half and hour, and they are run every 45 minutes or so. “The giveaway [April giveaway at Pakachoag Church] will have three trainings – at about noon, 12:45 and 1:15″   explained Derek Lirange, one of the WTI trainers and tree specialists.

The training is hands-on; people will watch or even help to plant a tree.  Again, Pakachoag Church seemed perfect. “The setting is ideal” said Seward. “There is space for the training – planting the trees – and plenty of room in the parking lot for setup.  We’re very excited about working in Auburn.”

Rev. Dennis Knight agreed. “We certainly have the space.  It’s another way to connect to the community” said Knight. Again, if you were trained at the October event, you do not have to attend another training session to receive trees at the April event.

How to Reserve Trees

You can reserve up to 5 trees online. When you arrive at Pakachoag Church on April 27, you will check in, attend the training session(if necessary), then leave with your trees.

“You’ll need a pickup or a minivan or a trailer.  These aren’t small trees.” said Seward.

If you want more than 5 trees – yes, you can get more – or if you don’t have access to a computer, you’ll need to call Seward directly at (508) 852-6400.  ”We just have to make sure the trees are being planted where they are supposed to be planted” said Seward.   “We haven’t had a lot of problems, but there have been some.  We just need to make sure.”

Tree Reservation Form

Reservations should be submitted by April 18 in order to have the trees delivered and prepped in time for the April 27th giveaway.  Seward adds that there are some extra trees available on event day.  But in order to get the types of trees you want you’re better off submitting your request.

The giveaway will take place April 27 from 12pm-2pm at Pakachoag Church, 203 Pakachoag St.,  Auburn.