ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Have you ever heard of a group called ReTree Webster? They’re a part of a non-profit organization called Friends of Webster Trails serving as the volunteer arm of the Webster Parks and Recreation Department, their goal is to preserve and restore the trees in Webster. 

More than 30 volunteers from the project group ReTree Webster just planted over 40 trees and shrubs in Webster parks to combat invasive species that are killing many of the area’s trees. Board Secretary for Friends of Webster Trails, and CoChair of ReTree Webster Project said that because of these rapid changes, at this rate there likely won’t be a single ash tree left in the town of Webster in the next five years.  

“We knew that we wanted to ensure the future of the Webster forested space, so ReTree was born, and we’ve been working for about a year to get to the point of being able to improve the resiliency of Webster’s forested space,” Sarah says.  

One of the newest trails Sarah and fellow co-chair Norma Platt worked on was the Michael A. Johnson trail. A total of 30 new trees including White Pine, and Pagoda Dagwood were selected and planted here with a combination of outside expertise and some funding from the town, knowing that they were native and resilient to the invasive species in the area. Some of the other trees were first planted in a spot not too far from here.

“The first place that we had picked is in the Whiting Road Nature Preserve and that space is very well trafficked, and we wanted a space that would support our goal of educating the public on what’s happening,” Sarah White. 

Sarah says that despite all the new saplings planted, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

“Thousands of people are out on the Webster trails every year and there’s more than twenty miles of trails here, so to be able to ensure that there will be shade and habitat for animals in the future is an important thing for people to be able to see. And we all know that being out in nature has so many benefits to people… so making sure that we are furthering that goal is very important,” Sarah says.  

An old Chinese proverb that Sarah told me that stuck was that the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, but the second-best time is now.

Friends of Webster Trails have existed for more than 25 years working with the town to create new trails and maintain them. The project group plans to monitor the newly planted saplings over the next several years. Plus, they plan to add more new trees each year in other areas of Webster as well.