Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

September 20, 2022

Dan Keefe
(518) 486-1868 |

State Parks Greening Rockland Lake State Park with Hundreds of New Trees

Plan restores forest and gives visitors a healthy future after invasive pest

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) today announced a tall order to plant hundreds of new trees in Rockland Lake State Park. The project promotes clean air and new shade while, at the same time, fighting off an invasive species. Rockland Lake State Park has lost 1,500 trees to the invasive emerald ash borer. The new trees – maple, oak and other species native to New York State – are part of a five-year tree replacement and vegetation management plan beginning with a site assessment this fall. 

"The public entrusts us to care for our State Parks and we are committed to making them safe and welcoming to visitors," New York State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said. "To directly face both the impact of emerald ash borer on our ash trees and continue to promote resilient, healthy forests in the face of climate change, we are replanting hundreds of native trees all around the property to restore the forest and make the park more welcoming to visitors." 

"The Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC) is excited that the tree planting project at Rockland Lake is moving ahead," said PIPC Executive Director Joshua Laird. "Not only will this effort allow us to replace some of the more than 1,500 trees that were lost to the emerald ash borer, but it provides an opportunity to communicate with and educate our visitors. Our parks are at the frontline of climate change impacts that are changing the character of environment around us. A project like the one at Rockland Lake will help us replace some of what has been lost due to the invasive ash borer and can serve as a reminder for park visitors of the immense impact trees have on their enjoyment of nature, being outdoors, sitting in the shade on a hot summer day, and breathing fresh air." 

Higher temperatures and more frequent and intense storms New York State has experienced over these past few years are considered to be directly related to climate change. These new trees will help remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and store them in their leaves, roots, trunks and soil. According to the U.S. Forest Service, New York's 18.6 million acres of forests hold 1.9 billion metric tons of carbon – this is equivalent to the carbon dioxide that would be released if we powered all the houses in New York State with fossil fuels for the next 100 years. 

Excess CO2 traps the sun's energy and heats up our atmosphere. In turn, that contributes to less snow in the winter, more frequent summer droughts and higher sea levels. According to One Tree Planted, "a mature tree can absorb an average of 22 lbs. of carbon dioxide per year, making cities a healthier, safer place to live." 

These trees will be part of a project that will bring more climate solutions to the park after the ash borer did so much damage. Trees help clean our air, filter water, and provide a habitat to hundreds of species of insects, fungi, moss and other plants, according to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. 

Phase one of the Rockland Lake tree planting project prepares an overall site assessment and survey work for 53 acres on the north end of Rockland Lake including the pool area and picnic groves. Teams will determine where site conditions, views, activities or utilities are best suited for planting opportunities. 

The overall five-year plan is budgeted at $1 million with the first part of construction starting in spring 2023. Based on the study's findings, adjustments will be made to fine-tune boundaries for the designated areas. 

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which are visited by more than 78 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit, download the free NY State Parks Explorer mobile app or call 518.474.0456. Also, connect on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.