Recognizing an important landscape

To the editor:

My mother walks every day, no matter the weather (although she draws the line at icy conditions). For the past few years, she and some friends have regularly walked at the Houlton Visitor Center.

The Visitor Center draws many people — travelers making the long trek up I-95, snow sledders and ATV’ers using the outer drives as a meeting point to connect to off-road trail systems, visitors to The County, and many more (including walkers).

To my mind, the Visitor Center is a kind of oasis, a green space amidst a commercial stretch of gas stations, convenience and big box stores and other businesses. Since this aesthetic oasis will, I imagine, soon be changing with its sale, I thought it would be interesting to take a walk around the center and count the trees on site. Due to the number of trees, I counted only those from the outer drive in, moving toward the center’s building. 

Ready? Current trees at the Houlton Visitor Center include 178 red pine, six birch, seven white ash, two sugar maple, one crabapple, one white pine and one red maple. Not counted within my self-imposed boundary, but deserving a mention due to its uniqueness and gorgeous display of blossoms this spring, was one yellowwood. Also not counted but containing value are the numerous shrubs and plants located on the grounds. 

While the sale of the center is final and my opinion at this point is for naught, it still feels important to recognize the landscape as it is now to what I imagine it will soon look like and lack (and wouldn’t I love to be wrong).

As I write this opinion letter cities and towns in various places around the world are experiencing record heat. Many places are working to plant trees and provide more green spaces to help cool areas. In my opinion, the decision to sell the Visitor Center should have taken more of a long view and recognized the center as a community-valued green space, rather than solely from an economic point of view. 

Angela Wotton

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