Suitable trees for the area

To the editor:

This summer, 15 volunteers attended a short training before conducting street tree surveys in different neighborhoods in Houlton. One volunteer noted, “I can no longer walk or drive in town without assessing the street trees.” 

We agree, making the recent tree felling within town even more of a concern. There is quite a list now, including several trees along the parking lot and church of Court Street Baptist, the bank between the sheriff’s building and Bangor Savings, the hedge along the fence in Market Square (a mistake by the new owner but one that resulted in no shrubbery at all), and now the crabapple trees near the Houlton Rec Center. 

Those trees were cut after a proposal of planting cherry trees was brought to the town council. Cherry trees, while nice, may not be the best for this area, depending on cold or disease hardiness. The Nov. 18 Pioneer Times article about the tree planting proposal references cherry trees and their springtime blossoms in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., which are very different growing areas than northern Maine. At this time, all of the crabapples by the rec center have been cut with plans to plant cherry trees next year. 

Perhaps a more viable option would have been to cut two or three of the oldest trees, plant cherry trees in their place and wait five years to see how the new plantings fared. Now, we are bereft of any blossoms next spring and for the next several springs. It’s wonderful to have community members who want to better and beautify our community in various ways but we also need planning. In this case, guidance from an arborist or forester would have provided knowledge and experience in planning for both planting new trees and cutting existing ones. 

As we learned from the street tree survey participation, Houlton has many beautiful trees but there are also many that are nearing the end of their life. Perhaps a better use of contributions would be looking to Houlton’s street tree future by planting replacement trees.

Angela Wotton, Hammond
Paula Woodworth, Houlton
Susan Bushey, Houlton

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