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  • Writer's pictureLara Caralis

A tree campaign spanning all of East Boston

I was recently introduced to Bill Masterson, a new East Boston resident very interested in expanding our tree canopy. After a few email exchanges, next thing I know he had planned a meeting with representatives from all the neighborhoods of East Boston, along with NOAH and Speak for the Trees -- this guy is a man of action!

Our group discussed our goals and concerns around getting more trees, efforts to date with successes and frustrations, various resources we can tap (the City, local organizations, nonprofits, corporations, Logan), and what we as a community can/should be doing. We decided our three focus areas will be: education, getting more trees planted and maintaining the trees for survival. Here are some key points for each of those areas that Bill circulated after the meeting:


  • Start with a current tree inventory to form a baseline and set goals (priority)

  • SFTT (Speak for the Trees) is currently inventorying all public street trees in Boston by size, type, condition and location with plans to do Eastie next summer 

  • SFTT will train residents on Open Tree Map to enable "citizen/science" to assist with inventory/maintenance effort

  • We need to better understand why people don't like trees in front of their homes

  • Literature and outreach needs to be bilingual

  • Involve civic orgs, non-profits and youth orgs (eg. East Boston Main Streets) 

  • State Street (Bank) is interested in providing resources ($ and people)

  • Trees should be an integral element of Climate Ready Boston


  • Historically the city has planted roughly 100-120 trees/yr in Eastie

  • City Parks Department (obstacle) responds to the squeaky wheel for tree requests

  • Since the homeowner needs to be the one to request a street tree, put together a cheat sheet to educate them on the advantages of trees and to dispel objections

  • Capitalize on NOAH's experience, database and resources to increase planting sites  

  • Find a way to combine NOAH database info (Google) with SFTT (Open Tree Map)

  • Encourage developers to incorporate planting/street wells in their design proposals

  • Identify potential sources of new trees (non profits, corporations, businesses) 

  • Gove St. Neighborhood has initiated a beautification committee, similar to Eagle Hill


  • Seek input (online form) asking people to sign up to participate in tree care

  • Create the equivalent of the "snow angel" program for watering trees (Tree Angels?)

  • Adapt the "adopt a block" street cleaning software to include tree watering

  • Educate residents on how to take care of trees in their neighborhood (cheat sheet)

  • Establish a rain barrel program for residents (Eastie Farms will help with education)

  • Identify sources of barrels (Great Am Rain Barrel in Boston, Boston Water & Sewer) 

  • "Shame" city contractors that fail to water newly planted trees while under contract

It was a great meeting and fantastic to see so much enthusiasm for the cause. We know the city has *goals* around tree planting, but what we really need is implementation, and I am confident that with this grassroots effort, we'll see some results! We determined that a good first goal (low-hanging fruit) would be to get all of our empty tree wells filled. The first step will be to take an inventory of these empty wells in all neighborhoods, which we'll be working on in the coming weeks.

Anyone with interest in getting involved can reach out to me through this website :)

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