In October of 2006, a sudden snow and ice storm swept across Western New York, leaving a trail of broken trees in its wake. Utility crews worked diligently to repair downed power lines and clear fallen limbs from roadways, but by the end of the cleanup effort more than 57,000 trees had been lost to the storm.
Soon after the storm had passed, a former radio salesperson named Paul Maurer formed a volunteer organization called Re-Tree Western New York and embarked on a mission to plant 30,000 trees in 5 years. The volunteers at Re-Tree WNY also established agreements with local municipalities to match their donations in hopes of planting a total of 60,000 trees.
Re-Tree’s efforts were repeatedly delayed by a series of financial setbacks, but after 12 years Maurer and his team are finally planting the last of their 30,000 trees.
This week, the Buffalo News reported that Re-Tree volunteers would plant their 30,000th tree at Canalside in downtown Buffalo. It’s sure to be an emotional moment for Maurer and the rest of the leadership at Re-Tree WNY, who have spent more than a decade working toward this ambitious goal.
But Re-Tree’s work isn’t done yet, according to Maurer. Now, the volunteer organization will continue to work with communities across Western New York to help preserve the health of their trees and replace them when they’re damaged by disease or future weather events.
“I’m still going to do this, maybe even more so,” said Maurer in his interview with the Buffalo News. “…There always will be that replacement that has to be done.”
Thanks to the efforts of the volunteers at Re-Tree WNY, future generations of Western New Yorkers will be able to enjoy life in a lush community with thousands of healthy trees.