Houlton’s trees need proper attention

11 months ago

To the editor:

Since last weekend’s drama concerning the trees in front of the courthouse being cut down, I have been thinking about trees a lot, particularly the trees in Houlton. 

Early spring brings to light much of what is hidden in the greenery of summer: things like accumulated trash littering areas along our side roads and street trees with dead or broken limbs, or half canopied trees from excessive pruning for utility wire clearance. For the past few years, spring also seems to bring about a flurry of activity of street trees being cut down, some out of necessity due to tree age and health, some simply because of a personal decision by one or two people. Calls of inquiry are made, people vent about it over coffee and then the topic disappears (as do the trees). 

Because of the number of trees being cut and seemingly lack of new trees taking their place, a couple of years ago, through my work, I was involved in a survey of many of those same street trees and wrote a plan for the Town of Houlton summarizing the survey data. The written plan also included recommendations for the town to effectively plan for future maintenance and planting of street trees. 

At this point in time, it seems apparent that plan recommendations are not being considered and that the future of Houlton’s street trees is not a priority. However, since it is a priority for me and others I have spoken to, I believe the time has come to take a more proactive approach. With that in mind, I would like to form a community tree committee. As is described in the Arbor Day Foundation’s “How to Grow a Great Tree Board,” an effective tree committee can “serve as an advocate for trees and help residents and businesses in the community understand and appreciate the benefits of maintaining trees.” 

Small groups can be the impetus for positive change and Houlton’s street trees need community advocates. Residents interested in being a part of a tree committee, please call me at 254-4126.

Angela Wotton