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Lawmakers, volunteers bring green back

Arbor Day takes on special meaning when it is celebrated today, after "the trees cried" last October during a surprise snowstorm.

A volunteer organization will begin to plant the first of 30,000 trees planned for Western New York in the next five years.

Mayor Byron W. Brown has announced the city intends to spend $1 million on planting new trees and to hire a forester to guide the effort.

And Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has secured 120 "historic trees" and 2,300 saplings.

"Our community is very passionate about seeing us reforest the city," Brown said. "We're known as the City of Trees, and we want to make sure we have the resources in our budget."

Re-Tree WNY volunteers, under the coordination of AmeriCorps, are fanning out today to plant 400 to 500 trees, with an emphasis on Buffalo and Amherst. Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, D-Buffalo, will be on hand for the ceremonial first planting in LaSalle Park.

The Buffalo News Green Leaf Campaign has set a $150,000 fundraising goal to support Re-Tree WNY's efforts. Checks or money orders can be made out to Re-Tree WNY and mailed to Re-Tree WNY, c/o The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 5173, One News Plaza, Buffalo, NY 14240.

The historic trees Clinton secured trace back to former presidents such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. One, a red oak from the acorn of a tree at Sagamore Hill, the estate of President Theodore Roosevelt, will be planted in front of the Wilcox Mansion at 641 Delaware Ave. at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Some of the other trees eventually will be planted at 100 area high schools.

"One of the great attractions to Buffalo to anyone who knows and loves the place as I do, was the extraordinary beauty of the trees," Clinton told The News. "So what I'm trying to do is team up with a lot of different groups to put together a plan that would help begin reforesting Buffalo."

Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, announced the distribution of 3,500 seedlings from the Arbor Day Foundation to help the recovery effort. She will be on hand with AmeriCorps for plantings at St. Augustine Catholic Church, 10 Hastings Ave.

For information on free seedlings being distributed today and Saturday, call AmeriCorps at 913-7575.

Paul Maurer, co-coordinator of Re-Tree WNY, said saplings and seedlings are best used in yards where they aren't at risk of being trampled.

Maurer is encouraging volunteers to go to the Fruit Belt on Saturday to plant trees that match some of the street names, such as Cherry, Maple, Elm and Oak. Volunteers will meet at Rev. Bennett Smith Family Center, 833 Michigan St., beginning at 8:30 a.m.

At 9:30 a.m. Saturday, at Carlton Street and Jefferson Avenue, Paul Gaustad of the Buffalo Sabres, along with mascot Sabretooth and other teammates will roll up their sleeves and plant.

For more information, go to www.retree.wny.org.

Among other contributions this weekend, Home Depot will present a $25,000 donation to Re-Tree WNY to plant 200 American Elm trees and host planting clinics, while Colvin Cleaners will donate 1,000 tree seedlings to five elementary schools.

e-mail: msommer@buffnews.com

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