Friends of Newburyport Trees Keeps Things Growing

The Tree Commission has planted and cared for well over 1,000 trees. FoNT and scores of residents have helped make Newburyport considerably leafier than it was 17 years ago.

Photo by Madison Nickel on Unsplash
Participating Allies

Editor’s note: This is one in a continuing series of guest opinions about fostering environmental stewardship. The series is coordinated by ACES, the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards.

In the beginning, covering most of our planet, there were trees. We have to believe, and I think most of us do, that the Earth knew what it was doing.

Trees provide food, shelter, clean air, healthy soil, beauty – a healthy planet and a healthier us. As we learn more and more about trees, the list of benefits grows longer and longer.

Newburyport’s Tree Commission, founded in 2002, had been furiously planting street trees for several years when we started to talk about ways to make the commission’s mission more understood. Fortunately, we had already established a nonprofit, though it had been dormant for some years.

In 2015, The Friends of Newburyport Trees perked up, created a board, a post office box, a logo, a brochure and a website, and we were in business.

Now, we could do more to help publicize the work of the Tree Commission. We had all had the experience, when out pruning and mulching our young trees, or placing or removing the Treegator watering bags, of being approached by citizens expressing their enthusiasm and support for what we do and even offering to make donations. It was clear that many people wanted to be more involved in our efforts.

It’s expensive to purchase, plant and care for a tree – about $650! Now, as a nonprofit, we could accept these much-needed donations.

We’ve developed other projects to encourage awareness and participation:

Adopt a tree – By donating the cost of a new tree, residents who want a street tree planted in front of their house can hasten the process.

The Recognition Tree – A donation purchases a stainless steel “leaf” hung on a bas-relief sculpture installed on the Clipper City Rail Trail. The leaf is engraved to honor or acknowledge a person or organization.

Edible Avenue – A large site on the rail trail is being planted with native species, all of which offer some edible part – a flower, a root, a leaf, a nut, a fruit. These plants are for anyone to enjoy. We look forward to conducting tours of the area for students and others.

A Tree Commission intern, with TC and FoNT volunteers, created a “Guide to Newburyport Trees” – a color field guide to trees commonly planted as street trees.

The Tree Commission has planted and cared for well over 1,000 trees. FoNT and scores of residents have helped make Newburyport considerably leafier than it was 17 years ago.

This fall, in the Tree Commission’s biannual planting, 47 more trees will be going in. We are very pleased with what we have accomplished with the help of the city, the DPW, the Community Preservation Committee, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, and you.

We all benefit from our healthier and more abundant urban tree canopy.

Jane Niebling is a member of the Newburyport Tree Commission. For more about Friends of Newburyport Trees, go to

This column was coordinated by ACES YOUTH CORPS member, Eleni Protopapas. To share any comments or questions, please send an email to To learn more about ACES and our Youth Leadership Initiative, please view our WEBSITE –

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