State environmental officials launched a new urban tree planting program that starts this month and will place thousands of trees in various communities.
The $5 million initiative, announced on Friday, is an effort to reduce energy use in urban neighborhoods. It begins this month and will lead to the planting of 15,000 trees in the cities of Chelsea, Holyoke and Fall River by December 2015.
"Greening the Gateway Cities complements our efforts to insulate older buildings and has additional benefits of reduced stormwater pollution and treatment and cleaner air," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan. "An upfront investment in tree planting across an urban neighborhood will pay back energy and water savings for decades as trees grow and mature, as well as make the cities greener and more beautiful."
State officials touted that the program will lead to a 10 percent increase in canopy cover, benefitting 14,000 households. The canopy cover is expected to reduce heating and cooling costs by about 10 percent, state officials said.
The targeted cities were selected because of their low tree canopy cover, high population density, high wind levels and poorly-insulated housing. The state's 26 designated gateway cities have lower tree canopy than other cities because of their urban character and history of heavy industry and manufacturing.