OP-ED: During the Drought, Don’t Forget Watertown’s Trees

Trees for WatertownIn times of drought, watering bags like these keep young trees alive. By Jim Briand of Trees for Watertown

When the rain stops falling, we tend to focus on the areas that respond most visibly—the lawn and the garden. A brown lawn and withered blossoms demand our attention with the hose and the watering can. Yet the most important plants in the yard — the trees — suffer as well. 

Prolonged droughts affect trees in serious ways, but the impact is not always immediately visible. In fact, it can take one to two years for the damage to become apparent.

Watertown Group Joins Other Tree Advocates to Stop Loss of Urban Tree Canopies

Tree advocacy groups from across the region met together for the first time on March 31st. Such groups
support planting of hundreds of trees each year such as this one recently planted at the Lowell School in Watertown. The following piece was provided by Trees for Watertown:

On March 31st, tree advocacy organizations from nine cities and towns throughout Eastern Massachusetts came together for the first time to discuss ways to reverse the concerning loss of protective urban tree canopy in our region. Organizations joined the conversation from larger cities such as Newton, Medford and Arlington, mid- sized cities such as Watertown, Lexington and Wellesley, and the smaller towns including Bedford, Weston, Maynard, and Groton. A representative from Boston’s tree advocacy organization Speaks for the Trees Boston was also present.

LETTER: Watertown Group Concerned About Loss of Trees on Private Properties

Dear fellow Watertown citizens:

The recent removal of multiple mature trees on Olcott Street raises significant issues about the proper balance of public and private interests here in Watertown. While a private landowner has a right to dispose of trees as they see fit, Watertown must recognize that the benefits of mature trees extend beyond the lot they sit on and are an asset to the community as a whole. Watertown is expending considerable resources to combat climate change and improve the community’s quality of life. Major investments have been made in street trees and in enhanced storm drainage systems designed to protect the city from climate-related extreme storms. Yet these efforts cannot succeed if they are at odds with actions on private land where 80 percent of the city’s tree canopy sits. The rights of private landowners are fundamental to our system.

LETTER: Pending Legislation Would Help Keep Watertown Green and Livable

Elizabeth ShawThis mature Watertown maple tree straddling a property line illustrates the issue addressed by House Bill 1849. By James Briand, Trees for Watertown

Watertown residents already feel the impact of climate change in warmer average temperature and stronger storms. Managing such change in the midst of rapid development requires an up to date and flexible regulatory framework. Three pending pieces of Massachusetts state legislation aim to address that need, by preserving mature trees that mitigate the impact of climate change today and by adding to the tree canopy to prepare Massachusetts for the future. The first bill, An Act To Update the Shade Tree Law (House Bill 2195), will update a 19th century law designed to protect trees bordering public roadways. Progressive in its day, the legislation became less effective as fines and obligations failed to keep pace with inflation and changing lifestyles.

LETTER: Three Pests Threaten Watertown Trees

Cornell ExtensionPhoto of a Pear Leaf with Rust. By James Briand of Trees for Watertown

Watertown’s trees face three distinct invasive pest challenges this year. One, Pear Trellis Rust, is a fungus that has been significantly disfiguring the town’s ornamental pear trees. Another, Emerald Ash Borer, is a small beetle that causes the rapid death of ash trees. The third, Spotted Lantern Fly, is an emerging survival threat to a variety of trees, especially fruit trees.

Tree Planted for Arbor Day First of 100 Planned Around Watertown in 2021

Trees for WatertownTeam members from Hartley Greymont tree service company and Watertown Department of Public
Works help to install the new Dawn Redwood tree planted at the Lowell School on Arbor Day, 2021. The following piece was written and submitted by James Briand of Trees for Watertown Watertown:

Tree Warden Gregory Mosman celebrated Arbor Day last week with the planting of a magnificent Dawn Redwood at the Lowell School, assisted by Steven Kendall representative of tree service provider Hartney Greymont and former Deputy Tree Warden for the City of Boston. Joining Mosman and Kendall were volunteers Marbin Sanchez and Jon Quinn, and David Andrad of the Watertown Department of Public Works. The tree planting was recorded by Trees for Watertown board member Jessica Grimsby, who is preparing a short how-to video to encourage residents to plant trees on their own property. Next year Arbor Day will turn 150 years old.