The head of the Olmsted Parks Conservancy is confident the reforestation effort will succeed if public support remains strong.
Johnathan M. Holifield, the conservancy's chief operating officer, said 2,000 to 3,000 trees are expected to be planted within the next five years in hard-hit Olmsted parks. They will replace about 2,000 trees lost to the heavy October snowfall.
The conservancy's arborist concluded that up to 90 percent of the trees in the six parks sustained some impact.
"The passion and commitment to the parks has been outstanding, but this is not a fleeting moment or an energetic, 90-day response," Holifield said. "You're talking about the devastation of a system that has been in Buffalo for more than 130 years that suffered unplanned destruction in one fell swoop. It requires an enduring commitment."
Holifield said he was certain the parks conservancy would meet the HSBC Foundation's $50,000, dollar-for-dollar matching grant for Olmsted ReLeaf, a fund set up solely for reforesting. The fund was set up to supplement the city's efforts.
The conservancy has received funding from several foundations, and it is awaiting Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement through the City of Buffalo totaling $160,000 for hazard and debris removal between Oct. 12 and the start of December.
Conservancy workers are busy pruning and discarding dead or dying trees, with about 100 more to be removed, Holifield said. Cazenovia Park -- which has the most dense stand of trees -- and Delaware Park were "just devastated," while South Park and Martin Luther King Jr. Park "suffered tremendous damage," he said.
Olmsted board member David Colligan said the park trees were particularly hard hit because of their age.
"The Olmsted parks were set back further than the City of Buffalo. That's primarily the function of the age and size of the trees located in the parks.
But Colligan expressed confidence in the reforestation effort.
"I am very heartened by the public support, and I think the staff and the board have done a wonderful job of responding to this calamity," Colligan said.
To contribute to Olmsted ReLeaf, write to 84 Parkside Ave., Buffalo, NY 14214, or call 838-1249, Ext. 15.