We lost a few in Tropical Storm Isaias, but Brooklyn Heights retains and maintains a healthy population of street, park, and garden trees. In her Eagle story, Mary Frost tells of the history. Before the 1940s the Heights, like most of Brooklyn, had few trees. This is why Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (!943) could consider the event remarkable. Then the Brooklyn Heights Association went on a tree planting binge, planting, according to the Eagle story, 1,081 trees in the 1940s, and 46 more since. The Eagle quotes BHA president Erika Belsey Worth as noting that some blocks, for example, Clark street between Willow and Columbia Heights, have lost many trees, and that many other Heights trees “are at maturity and beyond” and need “tender, loving care.”
The Eagle story also quotes former BHA executive directors Judy Stanton and Peter Bray about programs organized during their terms in office. Ms. Stanton recalled two “tree census” projects to examine the conditions of street trees, in one of which your correspondent participated. Mr. Bray supervised a program to enlarge tree pits, many of which were strangling trees’ roots. Current BHA executive director Lara Birnback wants to extend the tree pit survey, and also to recruit “block captains” to monitor the condition of trees and report any problems, as well as caring for newly planted trees.
Finally, the Eagle story notes that BHB friend Peter Steinberg, whose al fresco nuptials on Grace Court Alley I blundered onto in 2009, has created a website “that tree fans can use to easily record tree pit data. All people need in order to participate is a tape measure and a smart phone.” Unfortunately, the Eagle doesn’t give a link to the site. I’m sure Peter will give us one. Update: Here are the instructions:
Reach out to email@example.com and tell them what block(s) you’re interested in — they will email you the link and off you go!
By the way, the process really is dead simple — you just need a phone and a tape measure. I was able to measure all of Grace Court — both sides — I’m under two hours. And that was with an 8 year old as my assistant.