Birdland will be getting a bit greener this Saturday.
Staff and volunteers with the nonprofit Baltimore Tree Trust plan to plant 75 new trees outside Oriole Park at Camden Yards this Saturday. Joining them will be incoming executive director Mark Conway, who starts his new job that same day.
The Baltimore Tree Trust has planted more than 3,000 trees since its inception in 2011. The group now hopes to ramp up its planting output with Conway coming aboard. It kicked that effort off last month, planting 1,100 trees around the city in a two-week period, Conway said.
Trees benefit the environment almost wherever they spring up, grabbing carbon dioxide out of the air to convert into oxygen and creating ecosystems where life may not have previously existed. Locally, they also filter stormwater runoff to the Chesapeake Bay, absorbing polluting nutrients in the process.
Planting efforts also carry social and psychological benefits, according to Conway. Studies have shown they generally make people happier, and their presence also correlates positively to higher property values in cities. But there’s something else to it.
“They definitely add a sense of ownership to our city and our communities,” he said. “If people work together and start to think about rebuilding this city and cleaning up some of the problems that we’ve had for a very long time, that’ll bring that sense of community where people are reclaiming their city.”
Conway is stepping into his position with Baltimore Tree Trust after serving as deputy director of CitiStat under Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Before working for Baltimore City, he was employed as a research assistant for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, studying low-cost agricultural policy strategies and ways to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.
Conway said he’s always wanted to run a nonprofit devoted to planting trees. When Baltimore Tree Trust’s executive director position opened up, he jumped at the chance to get his hands dirty.
This Saturday will be his first activity with the trust as its director. Camden Yards is by no means unattractive, but it could be improved upon with some more green life outside, he said.
“We’re proud of our stadium. We have one of the most beautiful stadiums in the league, so we should do whatever we can to take care of it,” he said.
The tree planting will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. outside Camden Yards on Saturday, April 15. The Baltimore Tree Trust will provide all necessary tools, gloves, a safety vest and some light refreshments. Registration is free here. Volunteers can meet in parking lot B.
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