Chester gets $47,000 grant to remove, replace ash trees

By Cynthia Prairie
©2024 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Woodpecker flecking on an infested ash tree. Photo by VT Invasives.

The Town of Chester has received a $47,000 federal grant that will allow it to remove more than 25 ash trees in the village in poor condition or subject to  emerald ash borer.

The grant also will allow the town to plant replacement trees and purchase a watering tank, pump and trailer. And, according to Town Manager Julie Hance, she’s hoping at least some of the wood will still be good for home heating fuel.

Scott Wunderle, a Chester landscape architect who also sits on the state Urban and Community Forestry Council, which administered the grant, said he hopes all the work can be done this spring.

He added that the replacement trees do not have to located in the same spot as those felled, and that neighbors will be consulted before the new trees are planted. A local team made up of Select Board chairman Arne Jonynas and town residents John Russell and Robert Nied made the tree assessments. Most of the trees to be removed are behind the Academy Building on Main Street. For the full list, click here.

The Chester allocation is part of a $510,000 grant from the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 to support 12 projects in Vermont, which, according to a press release, “must take place in or directly serve under-resourced communities.”

Besides the Chester project, awardees include:

  • Burlington Wildways and Winooski Valley Parks District: Expand the successful school-based tree nursery pilot to additional schools in the Burlington School District, engaging students in growing trees to be planted locally.

Edible Brattleboro: Create a food forest on a vacant lot and tree guilds at downtown sites, expand a network of gardens that provide locally-grown organic food, shade and heat mitigation, erosion control and beauty to the urban canopy, and conduct community outreach and community trainings.

  • City of Montpelier: Enhance a 1-mile long universally accessible trail along the North Branch of the Winooski River through plantings to create a food forest, employ local youth to complete a comprehensive update of the municipal tree inventory and establish new community tree nursery after the July 2023 floods destroyed the existing one, and plant 100 trees grown in the nursery out into under-resourced areas of the city.

City of Vergennes: Ash tree removal and replacement in specific neighborhoods, community outreach, purchasing equipment and training staff to increase municipal capacity to maintain community trees.

  • Town of Bristol: Address deferred tree removals and maintenance, plant new trees on municipal property, purchase equipment to increase municipal capacity to maintain trees, particularly focused on sustainable irrigation for newly planted trees.

Town of Brattleboro: Create comprehensive management plan for town trees. Train town staff.  Address deferred tree removals and maintenance.  Plant trees and implement recommendations in the management plan.

  • Town of Hinesburg: Planting 50 trees to launch the transformation of 2.6 acres of town-owned land in Hinesburg into the long-envisioned Town Common. The project includes demonstration, tree maintenance in surrounding neighborhoods, tree planting, volunteer engagement, and community outreach.

Town of Johnson: Improve capacity for sustainable maintenance of trees and plants the Johnson Arboretum with a focus on irrigation, expand the Johnson Arboretum’s economic potential through signage and seating, and replace outsized grates on downtown street trees.

  • Town of Middlebury: Develop a comprehensive Urban Forest Management Plan and update town’s municipal tree inventory in tandem with planning and implementing a large tree planting project at a town-owned property.  Engage the community in both project components.

Town of Royalton: Conduct a comprehensive town ash inventory as a first step towards preparing for the impact of emerald ash borer.

  • Vermont Youth Conservation Corps: Establish a pilot Conservation Forestry work crew that will receive forestry and urban forestry training and engage in a two-year urban forest management project on 18 acres of Oakledge Park in Burlington.
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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 40 years. Cynthia has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland, and has won numerous state awards for her reporting. As an editor, she has overseen her staffs to win many awards for indepth coverage. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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  1. Arne Jonynas says:

    I want to acknowledge the hard work of all the volunteers who helped write and prepare this grant. Robert Nied, Scott Wunderle, Rachel Diak, Tim Roper, John Russell, Gary King and select board member Arianna Knapp. Town manager Julie Hance stated it was an easy grant to put together because of the help and input from the committee members. Good job to all!