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I got this survey in the mail today. The presentation was impressive and official-looking. Right on the cover, it stated that this was the Vermont Survey and that my input was needed. I immediately wondered how I got on to this particular mailing list. Did they somehow know about the two years that I attended the Vermont State Conservation Camp on Lake Bomoseen? Were they aware of how upset I became when more than half a dozen ash trees on my property succumbed to the Emerald Ash Borer and I wrote passionately about it? Probably not.

Even before I folded the perforated panel and gently ripped open the envelope I was already aware of the prizes I could win just by filling out their survey. I mean, I got the impression that I was already a registered and treasured participant as #VT00969. Yes! I even had a number all pre-arranged! The prizes? Well, enough trees to fill in the gaps left by my long lamented ash trees. A combination of evergreens and deciduous trees. If that wasn’t enough there were other prizes like a free Kindle with a National Arbor Foundation cover! That would become my fourth Kindle. I could give my third Kindle to my fiancee, in case she would be interested in the stuff I read. My grandchildren already have Kindles that I supplied but I don’t think they’re ready for my kind of novels.

Well, this was all rather exciting stuff. Then I read the survey questions. “When you were a child did you ever play under or amongst trees?” YES! We had 10 acres of heavily wooded land where we frolicked and camped and hunted and explored. We did not have one single open field, it was all trees. They also asked, “Have you ever climbed a tree?” I most certainly did. Once I climbed a big, gnarly pine tree that oozed sap. Brittle branches broke off as I made my way higher and higher. Suddenly I was higher than the roof of our house. A few more branches and suddenly I could see the top of Mount Ascutney. My mother yelled up at me to get out of that tree before I fell and hurt myself. She was even angrier about all the pine pitch that my clothes were covered in. Our entire 10 acres was mostly pine forest with very few deciduous trees. At least we didn’t have to rake leaves in the fall.

I went online to see if I could take the National Arbor Day Foundation survey there. Sure, there was a survey, but it did not resemble the one I received in the mail. In fact, there was no place for me to fill in my special number, VT00969. How would they know it was really me? Well, I suppose that unless I sent in a donation and something with a return address they probably wouldn’t, although they clearly state “No purchase necessary.” A donation is not a purchase, but far be it from me to get into the weeds with the National Arbor Day Foundation. I wholeheartedly support what they do. I just wondered why the opinions of Vermonters would mean so much to them. We are inundated by trees in the Green Mountain state. Most of the open fields that we had when I was a kid back in the 1950s are now grown up with scrub trees that probably aren’t good enough to harvest for pulp. The state is now something like 90 percent forested. A lack of trees here is not an issue. A lack of more forest management probably is an issue.

If the Arbor Foundation wants to raise awareness of tree proliferation they are barking up the wrong sapling by expending time and energy in Vermont. Maybe try to get them to stop cutting down the Amazon at such a reckless rate. Texas could use more trees, along with a slew of cities in the United States ... but I’d seriously worry about the Amazon rainforest first. There’s my opinion. Y’all can keep your 10 free trees and your clever little Kindle offer. I’ll keep the rest of my thoughts right here in Vermont where the only thing we’re lacking is maybe some more professional forest management and a willingness on some landowners’ part to get more involved in it.

“The Morning Almanac with Arlo Mudgett” can be heard Monday through Saturday mornings on radio stations Oldies KOOL FM 106.7, 96.3, and 106.5 and over Peak-FM 101.9 and 100.7.


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