The first seedlings from Tree Pittsburgh’s nursery in North Point Breeze will be planted this fall, mostly along riverbanks and in parks, according to TP’s arborist Matt Erb.
This is a milestone for the nursery, which was established a year and a half ago to grow trees to replenish the city’s canopy, replace trees lost to disease and bolster the soil along riverbanks.
A group of tree professionals and fans toured the city the other day, led by Matt and Tree Pittsburgh’s executive director Danielle Crumrine, and we started at the nursery.
Phil Gruszka, director of management and maintenance for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, said the nursery is a valuable resource.
“I’m a tree guy, so I get jazzed about going to a nursery and seeing seedlings,” he said. “Most of what we plant comes from cuttings,” which are like clones of the trees they are cut from.
A plant from seed has its own genetic make-up, like a son or daughter. Nurseries propogate through cuttings to replicate desirable features for commercial reasons, he said, but natural propogation is better.
As the bus passed Allegheny Cemetery, Ms. Crumrine said the nursery collects seeds from its trees. “You will see some baby trees at the nursery,” she said. “Well, this is where their mothers live.”
Arthur “Butch” Blazer (the hatted one in the photo at the nursery, right) came in from Washington, D.C. for the tour and an evening reception celebrating the near-completion of the city’s first urban forest masterplan. A New Mexican and Mescalero Apache, he is the deputy undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for natural resources and the environment.
On the South Side, we met Tom Baxter of Friends of the Riverfront. He said the riverfront trail development included restoration and stabilization of the river banks with TP’s help.
A grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service supported the planting of 425 trails along the trail, Matt said.
In the photo below, Matt is explaining what that blue tube is. There were dozens and dozens of blue and white plastic ventilated tubes along the trail, each about four feet tall.
Inside are little tree seedlings. The blue ones are recycled X-ray film rolled and sleeved.
On Mount Washington, Ilyssa Manspeiser of the Mount Washington Community Development Corp. told the group about the emergence of Emerald View Park since it was established in 2005. It is 257 acres, nearly its potential 280.
“We’re building on land that was mined, denuded and dumped on,” she said. “We removed 200,000 pounds of garbage, built two miles of new trail and are restoring 3-4 miles of existing trail.”
The park ultimately will provide 20 miles of trails, 10 of them in a loop.
We ended our tour in Allegheny Commons Park on the North Side. Alida Baker, director of the restoration of the park, said that 6,000 people live within walking distance of the park, “and it is fiercely loved.”
In summarizing the restoration project that is underway, she said there are 100 species of 1,000 trees.
The park was formally created in the 1860s, having early been grazing lands that were eventually denuded of trees, she said.
“It’s an $18 million plan and we’re $2 million into it, but that’s 2002 dollars,” she said. Appealing to Mr. Blazer for federal help, she said, “We need money to prune these magnificent trees we have.”