HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito were in western Massachusetts Monday to announce their latest efforts to support tree plantings in cities across the Commonwealth.

It’s called the ‘Greening the Gateway Cities Program,’ and the idea is to help make our cities greener, especially in the wake of climate change.

“The Commonwealth has put about $20 million into this initiative. I am pleased to say we are closing in on 35,000 trees planted,” said Governor Baker.

Those trees planted are in about 18 Massachusetts cities so far. The program is designed to reduce household heating and cooling energy use by increasing tree canopy cover in urban residential areas.

“Our Gateway Cities are at the front lines of climate change and are among the most vulnerable communities in the Commonwealth when it comes to climate change-related issues,” said Commissioner Doug Rice from the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

The state announcing additional grants for cities to benefit from this initiative, including Holyoke. City leaders planning to add trees to areas that they describe has ‘low-tree-canopy-levels.’

“And the addition of greenspace in our urban and industrial flats is good for the soil, as well as the soul,” said Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia.

In total, the city of Holyoke will receive $100,000 to water newly planted trees and to install 46 tree pits for DCR tree planting work across the city.

According to the state, large-scale urban plantings provide local employment and economic activity. And a healthy urban forest ecosystem improves the quality of the air as well as the water.

In addition, Springfield and Westfield are also receiving a funding from the GGCP Implementation Grant:

  • Springfield – $9,500 grant award to prepare 16 3’x5’ tree pits in the DCR planting zone.
  • Westfield – $20,000 grant award to prepare tree pits for a proposed green space located at 56-88 Elm Street.

“Since its inception the Greening the Gateway Cities Program has brought nearly 35,000 new trees to urban areas throughout our Commonwealth,” said State Senator John Velis (D-Westfield). “From cleaning and cooling our air, to reducing energy usage and noise, the benefits of increased tree coverage are abundantly clear. I am thrilled that Holyoke and Westfield are among the communities receiving this next round of funding and am grateful to the Baker-Polito Administration for their continued investments in this truly innovative program.” 

“As a state legislator, I believe this is the power of local government – having the Governor and agency heads here with their local staff and our municipal leaders,” said State Representative Patricia Duffy (D-Holyoke). “I truly appreciate seeing the Governor recognize the priorities and passions of our local government, especially in the fight against climate change.”