The East Row historic neighborhood in Newport has greatly benefited from its street trees over the years, seen in strong property values, its vibrant community and quality of life. However, municipal budget constraints prevent proactive care of these tree assets owned by the City of Newport. For this reason, East Row Garden Club started an independent program in 2013 to assess, maintain and increase Newport's urban forest. Led by Northern Kentucky Urban and Community Forestry Council (NKYUCF) member and East Row resident Rachel Comte, over 45 volunteers were trained to collect tree and street data which was entered into a mapping software (GIS) for analysis and reporting. A final report and recommendations was presented in spring 2014 to residents and city leadership covering long term management strategies, insect and disease threats, planting opportunities, pruning needs, an analysis of the benefits of the existing urban forest, budgeting and more. Read the Executive Summary of that report here or click here for the entire report.
Following this effort, a new Tree Revitalize Team was formed (as a committee of the East Row Garden Club) and a plan was mapped out to 1) educate residents on tree issues and 2) sponsor tree planting events. The Team wrote monthly articles in the neighborhood newsletter educating residents on the Newport's current tree ordinance, why trees are important, how to say no to mulch volcanoes, and other tree care issues. Tree planting funds were raised and residents were encouraged to sign up to have a 2" street tree installed in the tree lawn in front of their property for a cost of only $40 (remaining $110 per tree was paid by the Team). Though 20-30 tree orders were expected, the Team received 91 orders! Additional funds were raised thanks to the East Row Historic Foundation and other donations. The City of Newport provided critical assistance by working with the Team to pre-dig many sites, cut out concrete to create planting sites where none existed and deliver every tree to its planting site - all at no cost to the project! So in October 2014, 80+ volunteers showed up on a Saturday morning and all 91 trees were planted in under 3 hours.
Then in spring of 2015, the City of Newport received an $8000 grant from funds provided by the Kentucky Department of Forestry (KDF) through the NKUCFC to plant trees in the west side of Newport. This area was identified by the NKYUCFC's recently completed Urban Tree Canopy (UTC) assessment as in dire need of canopy to reduce heat stress, improve air quality and assist the ongoing neighborhood revitalization efforts. The City of Newport approached the Tree Revitalize Team to use these funds and run a program similar to the on in 2014. Joined by members of the West Side Citizen's Coalition, the Tree Revitalize Team again encouraged residents to sign up for a street tree for a small fee and received an unexpected 125 orders! Additional funds had to be raised in a short period of time to make sure all property owners would get a tree. Sources included the east and west Newport neighborhood groups, the City, and a local charitable trust among many other contributions. Again, Newport city staff worked long hours in a short amount of time to get over 80 concrete cut outs completed and trees delivered to each site. What started out as an $8,000 project funded through the NKYUCFC for 50-60 trees, turned into a $20,000 project to plant 125 trees! Trees were installed May 2015 by over 90 volunteers in just 3-4 hours.
Our third planting project will take place during the fall of 2016 and will focus on planting more street trees along the streets of the East Row. Check back here in the future for more on that project. If you have a question, comment, or want to join the Tree Revitalize Team, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.