The City of Burlington Tree Planting Project began under Bernie’s administration. It was part of a Burlington Beautification program led by volunteers with support from local financial institutions.
As Bernie explains in a 1987 “Town Meeting TV” video:
“I am communicating with the banks in the city a little bit more than we used to. It is no secret, of course, that the banks in our community receive their money from the people in the community…and I think it is absolutely fair to say to the banks: ‘we want to be sure that you are investing in the community.’”
Bernie procured an $18,000 grant commitment from Howard Bank for the first Burlington Beautification day, which included the Tree Planting Project. Jane Sanders secured another $10,000.
Tree planting days typically drew 100-200 volunteers who, together with the Burlington Parks Department, Boy Scouts and Mayor’s Youth Office, planted trees every Spring in each of Burlington’s wards.
“The other thing that’s really nice is to see volunteers working alongside city workers. That doesn’t happen often.” – Bernie Sanders
By 1987 over 2,500 trees were planted, with over 90% surviving over the long term. As Mayor Sanders explains, the larger, more costly trees had a better chance of surviving Vermont’s four seasons. However, a few trees also fell prey to vandalism – a fact that showed the Mayor’s passion for all living things and one of his pet peeves:
“Few things get me more upset than seeing some beautiful young trees getting ripped apart.” – Bernie Sanders