Residents attend tree canopy workshop

Locals recently gathered to watch a slideshow and learn about tree canopies at the library on Sept. 13.

During this workshop, they learned about the Urban Tree Canopy Project, which gives information about the multiple ways tree canopies can benefit the town of Monroe. This project of land coverage is part of the Connecticut Metropolitan Council of Governments (MetroCOG). The MetroCOG is responsible for planning activities for transportation, according to the Senior Planner of the organization, and one of the speakers from the evening, Matt Fulda. The Monroe Conservation & Water Resources Commission proudly presented this workshop with the assistance of the Monroe Land Trust and Tree Conservancy.

GIS (Geographic Information Systems.) Director, Mark Goetz, of MetroCOG also spoke at the workshop. He and Fulda delivered their presentation via a story map on a projector screen. They informed the audience that land coverage can help to increase the values of properties, make the water quality better, save energy, and much more.

“Tree canopies provide numerous environmental, ecological, aesthetic and health benefits individual municipalities and the region.  An extensive tree canopy can reduce average surface temperatures, filter surface water, increase air quality, stabilize soils, and provide needed habitat,” said Fulda.

The University of Vermont directed the analysis of the Urban Tree Canopy assessment throughout 2014, according to Fulda. The project also studies the importance of these canopies in Fairfield, Trumbull, Bridgeport, Stratford and Easton.

“The project benefits all six municipalities, giving them data to understand the current tree canopy extent and help plan for future canopy expansion.  The varied land uses and density of development throughout the region will result in specific uses based on the needs of each municipality,” said Fulda.

According to the Chair of Monroe’s Conservation & Water Resources Commission, Karen Burnaska, there are tree canopies in town at Webb Mountain Park, Wolfe Park and Great Hollow.   

For now, there are not any new projects on the way Fulda said. However all the data for the Urban Tree Canopy Project is available for those interested in conservation and planning.

At one point in the presentation, four maps from 2013 to 2014 were shown on screen that displayed excellent results through the use of land coverage. The speakers were able to zoom in on the specific areas to show the ideal appearance and how useful the coverage is. Another important fact mentioned is that the measurement for possible canopies can allow one to see which specific land areas may be suitable for this type of land coverage. He or she can also see where the best places would be to plant trees.

Monroe resident, Karl Witalis, who attended the workshop loves all the advantages trees give to the land.

“Where would we be without the trees? That’s the first thing. The two fellows here [at the workshop] explained very well that they keep the temperatures down, and that’s the big thing — global warming,” said Witalis.

Witalis has been a member of the Monroe Land Trust since 1991, and is the President Emeritus. Environmental awareness is very important to him, and he is glad to see areas in Connecticut focus on ways to help the land.

It’s really good to see the state involved in tree conservancy and explain to the general population that were here how important trees are and how Monroe stacks up against other communities in the area,” said Witalis.

According to Burnaska, the Urban Tree Project can help a variety of people in many different ways.

“This information can benefit all areas of land use such as planning and zoning and inland wetlands as well and parks and recreation.  The information is pertinent to all elected and appointed officials as they look at the overall needs of the town and long-range plans for Monroe,” said Burnaska.