The Village of Westhampton Beach is preparing for its annual Arbor Day celebration and this year’s event is extra-special: It will mark the 25th consecutive year that the municipality has participated in the Tree City USA program.
To celebrate, Trustee Patricia DiBenedetto, the Village Board’s liaison to the Westhampton Beach Beautification Committee, has helped organize a tribute fitting of the achievement. Over the past few months, the municipality has planted two dozen trees throughout the village, with the last tree waiting to be planted on Arbor Day itself.
On Friday, April 26, residents and local politicians are invited to participate in the community’s Arbor Day celebration, which will be held at Village Hall beginning at 3:30 p.m. The final tree will be planted by members of the Westhampton Beach High School’s Classmates United in Restoring the Environment, or CURE, club on nearby School Street.
“We are pleased that the village has included our schools in the Arbor Day celebration, and the students are thrilled to participate,” Westhampton Beach School District Superintendent Michael Radday wrote in an e-mail.
“This is a nice opportunity for the students to engage in a wonderful community event,” he continued. “It is important for the students to recognize the significance of giving back to a community that has given them so much.”
According to the website www.arborday.org, the Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters. It provides “direction, technical assistance, public attention and national recognition for urban and community forestry programs in thousands of towns and cities that more than 135 million Americans call home.”
In order to qualify for the program, municipalities must establish a tree board, have a tree care ordinance on the books, and create a community forestry program that sets aside money each year for tree plantings and maintenance. They must also host an Arbor Day observance and proclamation ceremony.
This year, Ms. DiBenedetto said the committee also decided to honor its roots, and planted four sugar maple trees—the official tree of New York State.
“We made it a point to plant the sugar maple,” she said. “That, to me, held significant importance because of the magnitude of 25 years. It just felt right to plant the state tree.”
Several other species of trees already have been planted, including elm, oak and hickory, on both village-owned and private-held property. The village paid between $75 and $100 per tree, and capped spending at approximately $2,500.
“Everyone benefits when elected officials, volunteers and committed citizens in communities like Westhampton Beach make smart investments in urban forests,” said John Rosenow, the chief executive and founder of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Trees bring shade to our homes and beauty to our neighborhoods, along with numerous economic, social and environmental benefits.”
On Saturday, April 27, village residents can continue their eco-friendly celebrations by attending the fifth annual Earth Day Festival that will be held at the Village Green, from 1 to 4 p.m.
Hosted by the Westhampton Beach Eco-Friends, the event will feature music, face-painting and crafts, and also include representatives from the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, Sang Lee Farms, Garden of Eve, Amy’s Ark Farm, Island Bead & Jewelry and the Hampton Coffee Company. There is no charge to attend.