Last week, Watertown High School students walked around the streets near Coolidge Square and stopped periodically to get up close and personal with some longtime residents of the area — the street trees.
“We are trying to get every single street tree in Watertown on the app,” said 10th grader Liana Rice. “We measure the circumference of the trunk, the health of the tree and the species.”
The information is entered into apps on their cellphones. With the circumference the app can help figure out the age of the tree and calculate how much energy savings the tree can provide in electricity costs, said ninth-grader Greg Venizelos.
The goal of the program was document every street tree in Watertown, along with the spots where trees used to be, said David Meshoulam, the Teens for Trees program advisor.
“We think there area about 4,000 street trees,” Meshoulam said early last week. “We’ve gotten to inventory 1,830 trees and by the end. We hope to get to 2,000 by the end of the week.”
After the final day of the program, the 12 teens catalogued 2,448 trees and 2,306 potential spots for trees.
“So, we’re about 60 or 70 percent done,” Meshoulam said. “We hope to continue in the fall with the teens leading groups of grown ups on tours.”
Meshoulam hoped that the students would be able to go to every street in town, but it didn’t work out.
“I has been a hot summer,” Meshoulam said. “It is hard to inventory for all four hours we meet.”
Since they could not hit all the streets in town, the interns tried to go to areas across town, Meshoulam said. They also focused intensely on certain areas, and covered every street in one precinct in each of the four Town Council districts in Watertown, he said.
Using the data, Meshoulam will create a report on trees in Watertown, such as where there there is good coverage, where there are not many trees, and the health of the trees.
Each trees was given one of four ratings: good, fair, poor or dead. So far, they have found only 19 dead trees, while more than 1,900 are in good condition, Meshoulam said.
The teens have learned a lot during the six-week program. Tenth grader Nurin Jeslina said she did not know much coming in.
“I really enjoyed this programs,” Jeslina said. “It’s been a great experience, I have never done anything like this before.”
The teens have learned to identify about 25 species of trees looking at things like the bark and leaves. WHS senior Joe Lessard said his favorite tree is a ginko, while junior Dylan Hickey’s favorite tree is the mimosa. Hickey said the program taught him a lot.
“I knew nothing about them before. I learned a lot,” Hickey said. “Trees are cool.”