The deadline for this year’s NeighborWoods program is fast approaching, but it’s not too late to sign up for one of the Island’s most popular street tree planting programs. We’ll have enough trees for a couple more neighborhoods to join in the fun. 

 The way that NeighborWoods works is that residents in participating neighborhoods pick the tree they want from a list of species well-suited to the island’s growing conditions. The trees are free and will be planted on March 23 by all-volunteer crews working with the Galveston Island Tree Conservancy. In exchange, residents sign a pledge to water their trees until they can grow on their own, usually a period of about two years.

 In 2012, volunteer crews planted 550 trees in eight hours along 25 miles of Galveston’s streets. Neighborhoods take the lead on the boundaries of their project and provide volunteers for organizing and planting.

The majority of the planters and support teams alongside each neighborhood’s crews are part of Texas A&M’s Big Event, but many groups participate, including the Lions Club, Galveston County Master Gardeners and the Galveston College Whitecaps baseball team. The value of all that labor was recently calculated at nearly $200,000 since the program first began in 2009.    

 Who pays for NeighborWoods? Last year’s program was covered by Tom’s of Maine following nationwide online voting in which the Tree Conservancy was ranked No. 1 from a group of 20 similar organizations across the country. This year’s program is sponsored by the John P. McGovern Foundation, a longtime Conservancy supporter.

 Want your neighborhood to participate? Contact me by Wednesday to learn about NeighborWoods. We need neighborhoods to commit by Feb. 1. Email to sign up or for more information.

Priscilla Files is senior arborist for the Galveston Island Tree Conservancy.


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