From the Fairhaven Tree Warden
Greetings from the Tree Department and happy spring. What a wonderful time of year. The small trees we have planted in the last few years are putting out buds and some their flowers. It’s really satisfying and almost the best part of the job to see this.
The best part of the job by far is the opportunity to get kids involved with trees. The planting we just did for Arbor Day with a group of high school students is a true pleasure and fills me with hope for our common future.
The last few days have been absolutely beautiful sunshine with a rain shower snuck in during the night. Until I started planting small trees I didn’t pay much attention to rain, but with 212 saplings depending on it to stay alive I now keep close tabs.
One of the goals I believe whole heartedly in is to plant 100 trees in town a year. That may seem like a lot to some but given we have between 4 and 5 thousand street trees in town it represents a small percentage. We lose at least 50 trees per year to drought, disease, bugs and people.
But something that’s not so great about spring is it reveals the trees that have died since losing their leaf canopy last fall.
On a half mile section of Green Street alone we have lost three mature street trees that looked healthy last year. This spring they have failed to produce leaves and that means they are dead and not coming back. These were 12 to 14 inch diameter trees and I think we can blame last year’s drought for stressing them and their demise. We will learn more when we remove them. And remove them we must as the alternative is they eventually fall on something; that does not end well.
Removing dead trees so they don’t fall on somebody or something is responsible urban forestry management. We also have to remove trees that may be alive, even healthy when they become structurally unsound. It may seem counterintuitive but health and structal integrity are not one and the same. A tree can have a full healthy canopy of leaves, but if the trunk is full of cavities and holes the tree is just one wind storm away from falling. The bigger the tree, the bigger the damage.
There is a systematic process for determining the risk any tree poses. Simplified, the formula is based on the structural condition of the tree and the targets it can hit should it fail. A grossly unsound tree in the middle of an unoccupied field poses little risk. That same tree in a downtown setting poses a great risk due to the people and property it can damage. As Tree Warden it is my responsibility to remove high risk trees.
There is nothing I or anyone can do about a tree getting older. There is little we can do about a tree’s subsequent decline due to that aging. The one thing we have a lot of control over is protecting people and property, and replacing the beautiful trees we lose with new ones. Then caring for those we plant. Please reach out and see how you can help.
Thanks and think green,
Don C. Collasius Town of Fairhaven Tree Warden.
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