Brattleboro walk features 'treasured trees'
At one time, Oak Street was lined with elm and oak trees, said Tim O'Connor.
But the elms succumbed to disease and most of the oaks were felled to make room for sidewalks, he said.
The Treasured Tree Project, which was undertaken by the Brattleboro Tree Advisory Committee, was developed to highlight trees around town such as the O'Connors' oak.
The committee designed a map for area residents and visitors that leads them on a 2.25-mile stroll to look at 22 trees, called the Treasured Tree Walk. The members of the Tree Advisory Committee spent two years on the project.
People in the community submitted nominations for trees they thought should be included in the map, said Lynn Levine, project manager.
"It was a chance for the community to be involved in thinking about their trees," she said.
"We did this because history has proven when people know about something they fall in love with it and take care of it," said Helene Henry, chairwoman of the Tree Advisory Committee.
The committee received about 50 nominations from the community, said Levine.
Of the 22 trees featured on the walk, nine have descriptions written up in the map flyer. One of the nine, a tree located next to Wells Fountain near Windham District Court, is a graft of a Camperdown Elm from Scotland, said Levine. Though she didn't know when the elm was planted in Brattleboro, the original tree was planted in Scotland in the 1830s.
Because the tree has an umbrella shape, said Levine, "It's a great place for kids to hide."
One of the more unusual discoveries for the committee, she said, was a small community space behind the American Red Cross building on High Street.
Several years ago, an ancient gravesite was unearthed there, belonging to the "Red-Painted People" who traveled through the area from about 5,000 to 1,000 B.C. The gravesite was established sometime around 3,600 B.C.
In the protected area there is a small walkway through the parcel that has several different trees in it, said Levine.
"It's a refuge in the middle of Brattleboro. Not a lot of people know about it."
The name of the parcel is the Grove Refuge.
In the backyard of the 40 Putney Road Bed and Breakfast is a very large Japanese Maple. The owners of the lodging establishment, Tim and Amy Brady, agreed to let the tree committee add the maple to the Treasured Tree Walk.
"They are allowing people to go and visit it," said Levine.
"We believe it might be the largest Japanese Maple in North America," said Tim Brady. It's at least the largest in New England, according to an expert who took a look at it six years ago.
The 2.25-mile trail is "easy," said Levine, and starts at the American Sycamore tree at Harris Place.
The Sycamore is like a beacon, said Brattleboro resident Chuck Hornsby, "reflecting the late afternoon sun off its light gray/white trunk and limbs. In the moonlight, it seems to glow."
From Harris Place, the walk winds its way to Putney Road, Main Street, Grove Street, Oak Street and High Street.
"It's a loop trail," she said.
Maps are available at the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce, the town's municipal center, the Robert H. Gibson River Garden, the Latchis Hotel and other places around town, said Levine. The map can also be downloaded at www.brattleboro.org.
The Tree Advisory Committee is considering adding to the newly developed map, said Levine, but it needs grant money to make it happen. For the current map, the town received $10,000 from the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation's urban and community program.
In addition, the project received matching grants from the Reformer, Allard Lumber and Berkley and Veller. The Windham Regional Commission also contributed to the effort by supplying staff time, said Levine.
Photographs in the flyer were taken by Bob George.
The Tree Advisory Committee was started in 1997. It receives help from Dan Adams, the town tree warden, and Rick Ethier, of the Brattleboro Department of Public Works, but receives no funding from the town.
The committee's mission is to promote the protection of the town's urban trees.
Bob Audette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.
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