Arbor Day celebration honors Pittsfield man, 300-year-old cottonwood

Saturday April 27, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- "Bob Presutti is a tree guy."

So says Jim McGrath, who is manager of Pittsfield’s park, open space and natural resource program. McGrath was speaking during an Arbor Day celebration Friday at Pitt Park, which included the presentation of an award to Presutti for his lifelong devotion to trees.

"He’s a volunteer who studies them, prunes them, cares for them and grows them," McGrath said as the Pittsfield Department of Community Development Parks and Recreation Program kicked off a cluster of tree-related events. Additional regional events are planned this weekend and into May.

Presutti, a seasoned arboriculturist, was awarded a plaque, a book and a tree -- a black birch sapling that was planted by the park entrance in his honor.

He learned about trees from his father, and continues to take classes and attend workshops about trees. His expertise currently serves Pittsfield Tree Watch and Springside Park, where he will soon be launching an American chestnut seed orchard program. That species, a popular street tree, was nearly wiped out because of blight in the early 1900s.

Also honored at the event was a more than 300-year-old state champion cottonwood tree on the grounds, as well as the park itself, which is now celebrating a century as a community gathering space on Columbus Avenue.

Robert Mellace, western region director for the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, described Arbor Day as "one of those holidays during which one individual can really make a difference."

Mellace pointed out that the day is observed worldwide, and he noted more than 3,400 communities in the United States are designated through the Tree City USA program of the Arbor Day Foundation. Both Pittsfield and Great Barrington carry this distinction.

Mellace also lauded the Berkshire Conservation District for fostering community engagement activities, like this year’s Arbor Day youth poetry contest, in addition to providing resources for the conservation of natural resources.

"It’s important to the landscape and to the economy," he said.


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