In recognition of the tens of thousands of well-tended trees in its parks, along its streets and in its residents’ yards, Valley Stream has been named a Tree City.
The recognition comes from the Arbor Day Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters. To qualify for the honor, the village had to meet a number of criteria, and Mayor Ed Fare said that the list was extensive. The Village had to have a “tree department.” Tree trimming, planting and removal are handled by employees of the Public Works Department.
To be eligible, a municipality must also have an annual forestry budget. Each year, Valley Stream’s budget includes money for the purchase of new trees. Another requirement is a tree care ordinance, and such an ordinance is included in the village code.
Finally, there must be an annual Arbor Day observance. Every spring, the Valley Stream Youth Council hosts a cleanup day at Hendrickson Park. And for the past three years, local Girl Scouts have hosted an Earth Day celebration at Mayor Edward W. Cahill Park, where they have planted trees, bushes and flowers.
“I was pretty sure we qualified,” Fare said of the designation, which Valley Stream received for the fourth time in the past 30 years. “The image that Valley Stream has is very urban. I think people take our parks and our trees for granted.”
He added that village officials are committed to keeping Valley Stream a green place. He said that in a typical year, 150 to 200 old and dying trees are removed and 200 to 250 new ones are planted. “We always plant more trees than we take down,” Fare said.
This year, the village will begin a new tree-planting initiative. It will be purchasing 1,000 6- to 12-inch-long seedlings that will grow into full-size trees if properly cared for. They will be made available to residents and organizations that are willing to plant and nurture them. The seedlings can be planted in parks, on private property or along the streets.
Fare said that they will need to be properly watered and protected to avoid damage from hazards like lawn mowers. “The survival rate is low when you just plant them and walk away,” he said. When you nurture them, they’ll be fine.”