Wednesday April 17, 2013

LENOX -- Landscape designer Scott Harrington wants Arbor Day in Lenox to be a whole lot greener this year. Working with town officials and community members, Harrington applied for and won a $1,000 grant from the New England Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture that will be used to cover expenses for a town tree planting that would take place on April 26.

The New England Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture only awards one grant, "so it was a huge honor for us to receive it," Harrington said.

Right now, Harrington hopes to plant a magnolia tree on the grounds of the Lenox Public Library, and possibly hold another tree planting at a different location on the same day, while additional funds raised would help cover other tree plantings that would take place later on in the year.

Planting a tree is not an inexpensive endeavor. Harrington said that while the initial cost of acquiring a tree would be about $200, the actual installation, maintenance and watering costs could total more than $1,000.

Harrington said that he and the others involved with the event are hoping to raise $5,000 by April 25, and have so far reached $1,600 out of their total goal. Harrington said that all of these plans are still tentative until the tree planting ceremony is put to a vote at the Lenox Board of Selectmen meeting on Thursday.

Harrington first thought of a townwide Arbor Day celebration back in February, when he brainstormed the idea with town officials like Lenox Tree Warden Warren Archey.

It ended up being perfect timing. In conjunction with efforts to plant new trees in Lenox, Archey is in the process of seeking re-certification from the Arbor Day Foundation to designate Lenox as a Tree City USA.

To be named one of the more than 3,400 communities that are cited for their dedication to tree conservation and planting, Lenox has to satisfy four guidelines established by the foundation.

The town has to have a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance that grants the department the power to oversee the implementation of a town forestry plan, an annual budget of $2 per capita, and an official townwide Arbor Day observance.

"Arbor Day is a great way for people to recognize the importance of trees," said Archey, who has served as the town's tree warden for the past 11 years. "I'm working with the Department of Public Works to plant about 15 trees this year in the town."

As a way for people to acknowledge the need to conserve the forestry in every town and city nationwide, Arbor Day plays a great role in bringing a town together, said Lynne Sutton, chairwoman of the Lenox Village Improvement Committee.

"I grew up about an hour north of here, and I would participate in 4-H. Each year you would get trees to plant for Arbor Day, and those trees are still there," Sutton said. "There's a quote that says something like, 'A person who plants a tree today knows that they are doing it for another generation.' I think that's so important."

A lifelong dedication to forestry is partly what drives Harrington. His father owns the longest-running tree service in Madison, Wis., which helped inspire Harrington to be an arborist. A former Boy Scout who would go on to major in biology in college and serve in the Peace Corps through which he worked on a horticulture project in Samoa, Harrington has always been dedicated to protecting trees.

"Trees are such a necessary resource," Harrington said. "The Berkshires is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and part of that is due to our rich forests and beautiful trees."

Arbor Day history

Arbor Day is a nationwide observance started in Nebraska in 1872 by J. Sterling Morton, who served as secretary of agriculture under President Grover Cleveland. The day is centered on individual communities taking it upon themselves to plant and care for trees. Arbor Day spread internationally in 1883 when it made its way to Japan. It is now recognized all over the world.

"It's easy for people to forget about the importance of trees," said Lenox Tree Warden Warren Archey. "They are good for town beautification, good for your health -- they do so much."

How to help in Lenox

To make a donation or inquire about how to volunteer to the 2013 Lenox Arbor Day, contact Scott Harrington at (413) 348-4505, or at scottharringt10@hotmail.com. Any checks or donations should be made out to Town of Lenox Village Improvement Committee, and can be sent to 17 Tucker St., Lenox, MA 01240.