Forest Erie is an initiative to protect and regrow the urban forest in the City of Erie, Pennsylvania.
Why Do We Care about Trees?
Because they are freakin sentient!
The Forest Erie Initiative is working with the City of Erie, the Erie Shade Tree Committee, the Pennsylvania Urban and Community Forestry Council, and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to create an inventory of the city’s trees. The inventory will be used to develop a plan for planting and maintenance in the City.
The health of our urban forest depends on you. We need volunteers to help with tree inventory, planting, and maintenance. We also need volunteers to monitor our trees against illegal or illogical removal. Trees located between the sidewalk and the curb are legally part of the city’s infrastructure. Therefore, tree removal is a process that requires a city permit. Trained volunteers can help us in our efforts to monitor this process.
Several environmental partners in the Erie region, including the Lake Erie Region Conservancy (LERC), Erie County Environmental Coalition (ECEC), the Partnership for a Healthy Mill Creek Watershed (PHMCW), the Lake Erie Arboretum Foundation (LEAF), Orion Organics, and the French Creek Project (FCP) have been working together during the last three years to raise environmental awareness, acquire and preserve green space, and protect and enhance environmental habitats. An integral part of this work has involved an inner-city tree program initiated by the environmental partners and supported with educational and technical assistance from the Penn State Cooperative Extension. This collaboration of environmental groups has worked under the premise that a thriving urban forest is an essential part of establishing and maintaining a healthy community.
The collaboration outlined above has benefited from a relationship with Mercyhurst College, where LERC is based, which has a long history of engaging students in environmental issues and projects. The Mercyhurst College Office of Service Learning has been especially helpful in connecting the environmental groups to under-served neighborhood organizations and community sites within the City of Erie. These inner-city groups include, The Erie Neighborhood Watch Council, the 18th Street Community Builders, Emmaus Kids’ Café, the Neighborhood Art House, Booker T Washington Center, Bayfront NATO, Martin Luther King Jr Center, Boys and Girls Club, Trinity Center, and the John F Kennedy Center. Mercyhurst College students and community volunteers from these organizations have already established several wildlife gardens and planted and/or helped to maintain over 200 trees in the City of Erie. The partnership of environmental groups and Mercyhurst College have also participated in numerous public events and workshops to educate the general public and the neighborhood volunteers about how to create and maintain a healthy Urban Forest.
Recently, representatives from the environmental group collaborative, the Penn State Cooperative Extension, and Mercyhurst College which has supported the efforts of LERCwith student volunteers, faculty research, meeting and office space, and administrative support, negotiated with the City of Erie Council and the Mayor’s office to revitalize the Erie City Tree Management Ordinance, which has been on the books for well over 40 years, but has not been enforced or supported for the last 20 years. Erie’s inner-city forest has suffered considerably. The City is now planning to partner with LERC (with technical support provided by the Penn State Cooperative Extension, volunteer labor provided by Mercyhurst College, and ECEC which draws membership from all regional environmental groups) to create a sustainable inner-city tree program that draws on the volunteer base from neighborhood and environmental groups and the Mercyhurst College community of students, faculty, and staff.