Rochester hiring tree ambassadors for urban forest master plan rewrite


The city of Rochester is hiring community tree ambassadors as part of its urban forest master plan outreach process this spring.

The ambassadors, at least one for each quadrant, will knock on doors, plan community meetings and lead other events such as tree plantings or walking tours. They will earn $30 an hour for about 60 hours of work between January and June.

Access the application here or email Liz Podowski King at liz@highland-planning.com. Applications are due Jan. 19.

The city is halfway through an outreach program aimed at involving residents in an overhaul of its urban forestry master plan, which was last updated in 2012.

The final public information session will be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Children’s School of Rochester, 200 Hillside Ave.

City of Rochester Department of Environmental Services, Parks Operations & Forestry crew Stefan Gassaway, left, and Darien Cotten plant a tree along the 400 block of Blossom Road in Rochester Friday, Nov. 5, 2021.  The city crew planted six trees along Blossom Rd. City of Rochester Department of Environmental Services, Parks Operations & Forestry crew Stefan Gassaway, left, and Darien Cotten plant a tree along the 400 block of Blossom Road in Rochester Friday, Nov. 5, 2021.  The city crew planted six trees along Blossom Rd.

City of Rochester Department of Environmental Services, Parks Operations & Forestry crew Stefan Gassaway, left, and Darien Cotten plant a tree along the 400 block of Blossom Road in Rochester Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. The city crew planted six trees along Blossom Rd.

In particular, the city has committed to creating a more equitable tree canopy in all neighborhoods in the city. An investigative series in the Democrat and Chronicle in 2022 showed major disparities in tree cover between the wealthier and poorer parts of the city, with significant consequences in air temperature and health outcomes.

Tree planting in Rochester by city

Mayor Malik Evans has committed to adding 6,000 trees by the end of 2025, and the city received $3 million in federal funding to achieve that target.

Reaching such an ambitious goal will require buy-in from wary city residents in traditionally under-planted neighborhoods. Research in other cities, and early anecdotal returns in Rochester, suggest it will be difficult to make a lasting addition to the canopy if residents are not persuaded that the trees will benefit them.

“The tree ambassador program … can help us convince people that trees are good for us,” City Forester Andrew Place said in an earlier community meeting. “There are a surprising amount of people out there that don’t view it that way.”

The city’s forestry division also recently unveiled an interactive online database that displays every street tree in the city, including its species and size, as well as specific sites targeted for planting or removal.

For more information on the urban forest master plan and the tree ambassador program, visit www.cityofrochester.gov/urbanforestmasterplan.

— Justin Murphy is a veteran reporter at the Democrat and Chronicle and author of “Your Children Are Very Greatly in Danger: School Segregation in Rochester, New York.” Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CitizenMurphy or contact him at jmurphy7@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Tree planting in Rochester NY means ambassadors will earn $30 an hour





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