New England Public Radio (WFCR & WNNZ) will host an on-air fund drive to benefit areas in the Connecticut River Valley affected by the June tornadoes, Tropical Storm Irene, and the October snowstorm.
“Root for Your Radio” will be held Feb. 24 – Mar. 3, and will be entirely funded by listener contributions. NEPR has partnered with various non-profit and volunteer organizations throughout the Connecticut River Valley, as well as the city of Springfield, to plant up to 2,600 trees in communities affected by recent weather events reaching from Connecticut to Vermont.
Cathy Ives, executive director of development and major gifts at NEPR, said the trees are to be planted later this spring in areas hardest hit by the three weather events, including western Mass. This is particularly relevant to communities hit by the June tornadoes like Monson and Brimfield, where downed trees still litter roadsides, and Springfield where the United States Department of Agriculture has estimated 13,000 trees were lost or damaged in the June storms alone.
The idea for the drive started within the radio station as a way to support a region devastated by the recent storms, according to Ives. NEPR is working directly with the Connecticut River Watershed Council to coordinate the volunteer-based planting of the trees. NEPR has reached out to tree gardens and nurseries, and non-profits to coordinate environmental efforts like determining what types of tree belong in specific regions.
“In Springfield, larger shade trees will be planted,” Ives said. “Other areas will have seedlings planted based on flooding and erosion. Non-profits will be doing the planting, and volunteers will be needed later on in the process.”
Ives said NEPR’s ultimate goal is to help the local communities affected by the devastating weather events. And with help from all the other organizations involved, NEPR is hoping to give back to its listeners and help restore storm-ravaged western Mass. and the surrounding areas.
She describes NEPR’s work with the following:
“There’s an old proverb that goes ‘When’s the best time to plant a tree?’ and the answer to that is 50 years ago. The second part of the proverb goes ‘When’s the second best time to plant a tree?’ and the answer to that is today.”
T.J. Houpes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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About the authors
Students in Steve Fox's Investigative Journalism & the Web class at UMass-Amherst have teamed up with the Globe to take a close-up look at the painful process of rebuilding from the June 2011 tornadoes that killed four and devastated communities in the Springfield area. Their work will also appear in the Boston Globe. Steve joined the journalism faculty at UMass-Amherst in 2007 and has 25 years of experience as an editor and reporter for print and online publications, including 10 as an editor at The Washington Post's award-winning website.