CONCOURSE — A nonprofit founded by Bette Midler is about to complete its goal of planting 1 million trees in New York City two years ahead of schedule.
The New York Restoration Project teamed up with the Parks Department to launch the MillionTreesNYC program in 2007, which had the goal of planting and taking care of 1 million new trees throughout the five boroughs by 2017.
However, the plan came together faster than organizers anticipated, and they are now scheduled to reach their goal on Oct. 21 at noon in Joyce Kilmer Park by Yankee Stadium, close to the same place where they planted the project's first tree.
"There was such an excitement about the initiative, and so many people were volunteering that we ended up accomplishing a great deal faster than we thought we were going to," NYRP Executive Director Deborah Marton said. "So we realized that we could complete it earlier, so we decided to take that opportunity to do it."
Queens received the most trees out of the five boroughs with 284,755, followed by The Bronx at 276,600, Brooklyn at 182,593, Staten Island at 173,134 and Manhattan at 80,016.
Officials gave away the remaining 2,902 trees to New Yorkers and are not sure where exactly they planted them.
The NYRP paid particularly close attention to six communities it had designated as Trees for Public Health neighborhoods due to their below average number of street trees and above average rate of asthma among young people: Hunts Point, Morrisania, East New York, East Harlem, The Rockaways and Stapleton.
The group reached the halfway point of its project in October 2011, when New York Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony helped to plant the 500,000th tree near the entrance to St. Nicholas Park in Harlem at West 135th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue.
Midler will attend the ceremony tomorrow, along with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, according to Marton.
She stressed that the NYRP's environmental efforts would not end just because they had reached their goal of planting 1 million trees, noting that they recently received state funding to plant even more trees in the South Bronx.
"We’re right now in the process of putting about 1,200 trees in Mott Haven," Marton said. "Totally separate from the million trees initiative."