ARPA Tree Fund Suggestion

Brattleboro will soon be going through a public process to determine how to spend over $3 million in ARPA funding. The selectboard will be setting up a process for gathering ideas and suggestions, evaluating them, and deciding what to do. They will be looking for items that give the greatest long-term benefit to Brattleboro.

As the Lorax would say, “I’d like to speak for the trees.”

I’m not sure what the right amount is, but for argument’s sake I’d like to suggest $100k be spent on shade trees.  Few things would give longer-lasting benefits to the town.

Trees add value. Tree-lined streets generally raise property prices and are more desirable.

We need shade.  Brattleboro’s big, old shade trees have been decimated in the last 30 years. Comfortable summer walks into town have been replaced by brutally hot, shade-free journeys. Want to encourage pedestrians? Make it more comfortable.

Trees remove carbon and freshen the air.  We need trees to mitigate rising global temperatures.

Trees are home to bees, bugs, birds, squirrels and so on. We’ve lost a lot of habitat in town, and local insects and small animals suffer.  A good tree canopy means squirrels don’t have to run across the road as much.  Trees can help cats escape dogs.

Planting trees is historical – Brattleboro had a Shade Tree Association in the mid 1800’s. Members paid minimal dues and planted trees. The few remaining big trees around town were planted, most likely, by this group.

Trees are a long-term investment. It’s a gift to future generations, and the benefits will carry on for decades.

Unlike roads and parking garages, planting trees will require little ongoing maintenance.  A tree doesn’t start falling apart as soon as it is in the ground. The opposite… it starts growing, becoming bigger and better with each season.

Trees won’t be attending the meetings of the Brattleboro Selectboard. They won’t be able to gather signatures on a petition, and they smartly avoid social media. It’ll take people to make the argument.

I hand this idea off to you, Brattleboro….

Comments | 5

  • Addendum

    The $100k estimate is mostly for the work required to plant them, btw. Not a full $100k of trees….

  • Some guidelines released

    “The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds provide eligible state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments with a substantial infusion of resources to meet pandemic response needs and rebuild a stronger, and more equitable economy as the country recovers. Recipients may use these funds to:

    Support public health expenditures, by, for example, funding COVID-19 mitigation efforts, medical expenses, behavioral healthcare, and certain public health and safety staff

    Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including economic harms to workers, households, small businesses, impacted industries, and the public sector

    Replace lost public sector revenue, using this funding to provide government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue experienced due to the pandemic

    Provide premium pay for essential workers, offering additional support to those who have and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service in critical infrastructure sectors

    Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, making necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, support vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and to expand access to broadband internet

    Within these overall categories, recipients have broad flexibility to decide how best to use this funding to meet the needs of their communities.”


    I’ll claim that trees are part of investing in our infrastructure, and in long-term public health. : )

  • Good thinking!

    Thanks, Chris, for this piece. We shouldn’t need reminding, but we do!

  • There are many options

    In addition to trees, there are many other ways to spend the money…

    – direct payments to individuals/households would qualify under “address negative economic effects”
    – subsidize broadband for low income households
    – fix the drainage problem on Main Street after rains
    – spend it on the water treatment upgrade
    – “premium pay for essential workers” could give bonuses to restaurant employees and grocery store cashiers/stockers
    – “lost public sector revenue” could give money to arts and non-profits

    I still think trees would be a good sub category to spend on – long term health, and helping with clean air, water and stormwater.

    The discussion might be better framed as “what shouldn’t we spend it on?”… businesses have already had some good money through other programs, the schools get their own pot of cash, it would be sorta dumb to spend it on something short-term or ephemeral like a building repair or paving, it would be sorta dumb to create some new program or position rather than sustain what already exists, anything encourage travel and tourism is probably not wise yet… what else?

  • Gov Scott Agrees

    He tweeted that ARPA funds should be used for climate change:

    “My proposal for federal ARPA funds includes the largest investments to combat climate change in our state’s history – by far. The time to act is now. “

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