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Opportunities for Tree Planting in Sanford 

Sanford High School students planting trees

Sanford High School students are working with a student-run non-profit group to promote tree planting in Sanford. 

Photo: Tree-plenish 

By Lee Burnett, Submissions Editor 

Potential funds are available to plant trees in Sanford if the city decides to pursue a grant opportunity. Project Canopy is making tree planting grants of up to $200,000 available to communities with distressed demographics. The funding, for which Sanford qualifies, is available without the usual requirement that the host community provides matching funds. According to the Director of Project Canopy Jan Santerre, “There is a zero match required.” Parks and Recreation Director Brady Lloyd is intrigued enough to sign up for a mandatory grant workshop later this month, and he plans to invite others to attend as well. “We’re looking into learning about Project Canopy to see what it potentially could do for the city,” he said. 

The funds can be used for a variety of projects, including urban and community tree canopy establishment, urban wood utilization, urban food forests, workforce development, climate mitigation through tree planting, community tree nursery establishment, and building an understanding of the care and management of community trees, according to Project Canopy. 

It’s been more than a decade since the city last took advantage of Project Canopy. At that time, the city leveraged the value of donated trees in front of Pride Elementary School to fund the planting along other areas of Main Street.   

One person eager for the city to apply for the Project Canopy funds is Robert Moosmann, a semi-retired arborist who once ran the vegetation management program for the Maine Department of Transportation. When he worked for Urban Tree Service of Rochester, N.H., he was contracted to conduct a survey of street trees in Sanford following the 1998 Ice Storm. At the time, he identified $250,000 worth of needed tree work in Sanford. “My knowledge of Sanford is very strong,” said Moosmann. He considers tree planting to be needed in Sanford because it lies on the leading edge of the Emerald Ash Borer infestation that’s killing ash trees from the Midwest to Maine. 

Moosmann suggested a meeting to consider the kind of urban forest Sanford wants going forward. He said, “Sanford could certainly use the help” and identified some potential areas, not just for beautification and shade, but to reduce evaporation, stormwater runoff and fertilizer need. 

Coincidental to the Project Canopy initiative, students at Sanford High School are already planning a tree distribution on May 4. The Environmental Club is working with a student-run non-profit group called Tree-Plenish to provide low-cost saplings and associated educational materials. According to Club Advisor Chris Jeney, the plantings are a way for students to have a lasting environmental impact on their community. “This really is that extra step outside their school,” he said. The students’ interest is in carbon sequestration. They chose yellow poplar, river birch and red maple specifically for these tree species’ exceptional capacity to cycle carbon out of the atmosphere. 

The Environmental Club is charging $5 per sapling and hopes to distribute at least 100 of them to family members and local organizations. Scholarships are available for those who cannot afford to buy a tree, he said. 

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