DCR has dismal record on caring for trees

The following letter was sent to state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez and Matthew Thurlow, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation’s chief forester, as well as the Jamaica Plain Gazette.

Before anyone approves the cutting down of any existing trees along the Arborway or Jamaicaway on the strength of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) “promise” to replace them (specifically the trees lining the historic stone wall on Pond Street), they should first consider DCR’s dismal record of performance in Arborway tree planting.

Last week, the DCR’s tree contractor cut down all the dead red oak saplings they planted on the Arborway last year (Most were alive then.)—leaving over a dozen stumps. Last week they replaced those stumps with new saplings, making exactly the same mistakes they made last year—no deep root watering tubes, too shallow holes, no water collection basins, no protection from mowers or vehicles on the greens.

The only way tree saplings survive on the Arborway is if they are cared for and protected diligently. Neither the contractor nor DCR has ever demonstrated the ability or inclination to do this.

Over the years, certain of us Arborway residents have voluntarily “adopted” certain transplanted and naturally generated tree saplings and regularly water them, fertilize them and weed them at our own effort and expense. Quite a few of these adoptees survive and flourish today. These are the only tree saplings that have ever survived on the Arborway. Unadopted saplings have all died.

Surprisingly, given this history, no one from DCR or the contractor made any effort to recruit any of us residents to adopt any of the new crop of transplanted saplings. A few lucky ones will no doubt be adopted by some of us Arborway residents acting on our own. Regrettably, the rest will die in place—leaving gaping holes in the Arborway’s historic green canopy and giving silent witness to the lack of foresight with which this project was conceived and carried out.

Too bad—for us residents, for us taxpayers and for the trees.

Kevin J. Handly
Jamaica Plain

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