YSU Legacy Forest planted 1,600+ trees
The YSU Legacy Forest Program planted over 1,600 native hardwood trees on the Mill Creek MetroPark’s Collier Preserve, completing the third annual micro-forest tree planting project. More than 60 volunteers, mostly YSU students, but also others from the area, braved the cold on a November day to complete the task.
The Legacy Program’s mission is to combat climate heating by reforestation that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Each acre of the maturing forest on the 11-acre Collier Preserve parcel will remove about 2.7 tons of atmospheric carbon every year for the next 100 to 150 years.
The Collier project will make only an imperceptible impact on the carbon content of the atmosphere, but what if every municipality sponsored such a program, each planting 1,000 trees each year on vacant public land or in agreements with private land owners? High-priority land would be stream riparian zones and highly erodible parcels.
The Collier project has other more local direct benefits, including reduced flooding, stream bank erosion, nutrient loading, soil erosion and increased biodiversity and aesthetic quality.
Recently, I observed a discussion by our local governing council on the wisdom of joining an area stormwater utility (SWU). The purpose of the utility would be to mitigate urban flooding. Often SWUs focus on the construction of stormwater sewers to carry the water away faster or holding ponds to slow its discharge, but always a construction project. Municipality reforestation programs would address the same issues, probably at a much lower cost, and reap many other benefits, not the least is reduced runoff and flooding.
A major objection to joining the utility was the absence of results that demonstrate the worth of the utility. A reforestation program would produce quantifiable results from the start.
Climate heating will likely increase the amount and variability of precipitation in our area resulting in more severe flooding. A reforestation program would directly reduce flooding and also mitigate the rise in stormwater runoff.
The Collier project is a cooperative endeavor between Mill Creek Metro Parks and the YSU Legacy Program. Mill Creek provides the land, site preparation, deer exclusion tubes and post-planting forest management. YSU Legacy provides the trees (in this case through an Arbor Day Foundation grant to Legacy), volunteer labor and equipment for planting.