Sunday, December 27, 2009

New England's (possibly) oldest elm soon to be no more

This morning's Boston Globe tells the story of Herbie, an approximately 235 year old tree in Yarmouth, Maine, which is finally succumbing to Dutch elm disease and will be removed by the town on January 18.  The tree has had the disease for more than 50 years, but careful tending by volunteer tree warden Frank Wright, now 101 years old himself, added another six decades to the tree's life.  Now the tree's time as a tree is ending.  Read more.

The same edition of the Globe has an opinion piece about the  Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation's promotion of clear-cutting in our state's forests.  I've learned a lot about clear-cutting recently, but until reading this article, I hadn't also heard that Massachusetts lost its "green certification" from the Forest Stewardship Council.  Hundreds of acres of forest have been clear-cut around the Quabbin Reservoir, which supplies Boston's water but is located here in Western Massachusetts.

Do we have to anthropomorphize trees to save them?   I don't recall ever having named a tree but I certainly have had close relationships with a number of memorable trees throughout my life.   I didn't learn to truly love them as a species until I lived in Maine and began to understand their importance.  But loving a single tree is not a bad place to start.

A hundred years ago, even in a city like Springfield, children could name their favorite climbing tree, and knew where to find apples and chestnuts.  The modest mulberry tree still thrives, but do Springfield children even know their berries can be eaten?

Photo from McPhloyd's photostream at Flickr.

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