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Rockville Centre Conservancy launches second tree-removal, replanting initiative

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The RVC Conservancy is set to launch its second annual “Tackling Trees” project this month in an effort to protect property values and keep the neighborhood beautiful. Similar to last year, the group, which works with the village to restore and enhance Rockville Centre’s trees, parks and public spaces, will coordinate with residents to help them remove and replace diseased Bradford pear trees on their property.

Rockville Centre officials and residents have discovered a large number of diseased pear trees over the last few years. Trellis rust — caused by a fungus new to North America — had spread throughout the village, leaving many of its ornamental pear trees partially or fully bare, or with discolored or blotchy leaves. The airborne disease can spread quickly in areas where many trees are close together. 

Last year, the Conservancy helped residents uproot roughly 175 trees, but only about 50 were replaced, according to Matt Cliszis, a member of the group. He said at the time that it was “disappointing” that more residents hadn’t replanted a tree.

“I think it takes a couple of years to get the momentum going,” Cliszis said, noting that residents had reached out to the Conservancy after last year’s removal and replanting campaign ended. “We look at our program as a nice supplement to the village’s tree-planting program that they do in the fall.”

While the initiative remains focused on removal and replacement of diseased Bradford Pear trees, Cliszis added, all residents are encouraged to purchase new street trees even if they aren’t removing a dead pear tree. 

The project comes several months after the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation awarded the village a $47,000 grant to inspect 4,000 trees in its downtown area. Julie Scully, the village’s spokeswoman, wrote to the Herald in an email that a request for proposals is slated to be sent out soon.

The Conservancy has secured a discounted rate with Weeping Willow Tree Removal Service of $150 per removal of each Bradford Pear tree (includes stump grinding, but not mulch removal). Residents who are interested can sign up on the Conservancy’s website at — www.rvcconservancy.org/tacklingtrees — and someone from Weeping Willow will contact them directly.

The cost of a new street tree is approximately $275 per tree. The Conservancy can accept payments via PayPal, by check or with cash. Trees are expected to be planted in May.