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Group Seeks to Identify Notable Trees in Town

Group Seeks to Identify Notable Trees in Town


Part of the charm of living in Woodbridge is to live among trees, and a group of Woodbridge residents is working this spring to identify the most remarkable ones.  They are counting on fellow residents’ cooperation to point out and possibly help identify and measure trees on their property that may be considered notable trees.

The goal is not only to identify the special trees that are currently in Woodbridge, but to submit them for acceptance on the Connecticut Notable Trees list, which was started over 30 years ago at the Connecticut College Arboretum.  That list is now over 3,000 trees long, said Paul DeCoster, one of the local organizers.  But only six entries are from Woodbridge, with five of them located on DeCoster’s property.

DeCoster learned of the Notable Tree Program through another resident who had contacted the organization a few years ago about a cottonwood tree in her yard.  She had noticed the DeCosters’ large beech tree as she was driving by on Amity Road and left a note in their mailbox, asking if she could nominate their tree.  A volunteer from the Arboretum came out to measure its size, then found several other notable trees on the property.  Eventually they contributed five of the six Woodbridge trees on the Notable Trees list.

DeCoster, a member of the Amity Woodbridge Historical Society, is working with Park Association president Richard Forselius to get a local group going.  Both the Historical Society and the Park Association, as well as the Woodbridge Land Trust and the Garden Club are now official sponsors of the effort.

Anyone interested in the program can find more information on the Park Association website, http://woodbridgeparks.org/news-events/They can also find a link to a nominating form to put forward a particular tree.  Hard copies of the form also will be made available at the library, Forselius said.  They are encouraging Scouts to participate in the effort, especially as volunteers to help residents measure the height, the circumference and crown spread.  “Some of it can be done with basic trigonometry,” Forselius said.

They invited Arboretum Director Glenn Dreyer to present his program at the upcoming annual meeting of the Amity Woodbridge Historical Society in May.  As in other towns, DeCoster and Forselius formed a group of like-minded friends drawing from the sponsoring organizations.  They had an organizational meeting back in December, where Dreyer introduced the project.

A similar survey of notable trees was undertaken in Woodbridge some 12 years ago, which netted about 17 submissions, but fizzled out and eventually was abandoned in 2006.  The data from that survey never made it onto the state Notable Trees list, but Forselius does have the addresses of those nominations.  They are unaware, however, whether these submissions were ever followed up on, or who owns the properties today.

“We are interested in receiving leads to notable trees in town from local residents who own or know of specimens of real size and/or historical interest,” Forselius wrote in a letter explaining the project.  Nominations should be recorded on the above-mentioned form and submitted to the Park Association at P.O. Box 3883, Woodbridge, 06525; or by email to president@woodbridgeparks.org.  Volunteers will follow up to help identify the species and measure it, if needed.

In order to drum up sustained interest, the committee discussed creating a Tree of the Month program, or some similar program, as created by the Hamden Tree Commission.  In Newtown, organizers even sponsored a competition for the most notable tree, which carries a prize of $500.

Not all trees on the state list are necessarily huge or stately.  Their listing is based on their characteristics when compared to others of their species.  Each tree is given a point total based on its measurements.  DeCoster’s beech tree, for instance, is 86 feet high but has a spread of about 85 feet, which makes it about as wide as it is high.  That it fairly typical for this type of tree, he said.  On the Notable Tree list, it placed about in the middle among all notable beech trees, which makes it a tree of “average notability,” joked Judy DeCoster, his wife.  There are no records as to when the tree was planted, but the foundation to the house was built in 1875.  He suspects the tree to be 150-200 years old, DeCoster said.

More information on the Connecticut College Arboretum’s Notable Tree Project can be found at http://oak.conncoll.edu:8080/notabletrees/.

Pictured: A European copper beech tree on Amity Road is one of six local trees on a list of Notable Trees.  A local group is working to expand that list and put Woodbridge trees ‘on the map’.  They are calling on residents to participate in the upcoming survey.

By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town Correspondent

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