County forester urges city to preserve trees on town green

VERGENNES — Addison County Forester Chris Olson said last week Vergennes officials should look at other methods of helping grass grow in some areas of the city’s central green before considering removing trees, according to City Manager Mel Hawley.
Hawley said when he met with Olson on Wednesday morning that the forester also said none of the trees on the green, including two large maples behind the monument about which city official were worried, were so unhealthy they should be removed.
That opinion is important, because Hawley, as the city tree warden, would have the authority to order unhealthy trees removed from city property, while the proposed removal of healthy trees on city land would trigger a public process that would include hearing. Hawley and the city council had discussed that possibility earlier in May.
But Hawley said that, according to Olson, other measures could be taken “to give the grass a full chance,” including removing limbs from the trees, planting more shade-tolerant strains, and, at least after the Vergennes Memorial Day celebration, roping off the troubled areas to give the grass a chance to recover.
Olson also suggested, Hawley said, that a major problem might be soil “compression,” from heavy use, rather than shade. One area near the front of the green where the grass is struggling had, in the past, hosted the Vergennes Farmers’ Market. The market is moving to the Kennedy Brothers this summer.
Hawley and Olson also discussed taking a longer view of the park and preparing it for “incremental change.” For example, Olson said the two maple trees might be 150 years old and would not last forever, and city officials should consider what should come afterward.
Olson suggested officials should consider “what the park will look like in 150 years,” Hawley said.
“There’s something to be said for having a long-term plan for the park,” Hawley said. “I think that’s some great advice.”

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