Vermont Tree Wardens: A Voice for the Forest
By Christine McGowan, Forest Products Program Director at Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
Updates to Vermont’s 100-year old tree warden statutes provide clarity, opportunity for collaboration.
According to Elise Schadler, a program manager with Vermont Urban and Community Forestry, a tree warden is a modern-day local lorax—a community spokesperson for the trees. Appointed by local select boards, tree wardens are responsible for making determinations about public shade trees, defined as “a shade or ornamental tree located in whole or in part within the limits of a public way or public place.”
“A homeowner may want to improve their view or widen a driveway, or a road crew may have identified trees that need to be removed,” said Schadler. “The tree warden brings perspective to those conversations to make sure the many public benefits of shade trees are considered.”
Calais tree warden, Neal Maker, is currently working with the town road and conservation commissioners to plan for the preservation of a row of maples along Adamant Road. “It’s a beautiful row of stately old maples with pretty fields behind them,” said Maker, “but some of the trees are over 150 years old and beginning to decline, so we are working out a plan to protect the younger, healthy trees.”
Maker is also helping the town inventory its ash trees in response to the emerald ash borer. “Calais has a lot of ash trees,” said Maker. “While many will need to be removed, some will survive and it’s important we protect those to make sure that ash trees are part of our forest makeup in the future.”