Falmouth Public Works employees plant three white pines in honor of Maine’s bicentennial and the town’s status as a Tree City. Courtesy

FALMOUTH — The Conservation Commission hopes exposure from a new designation as a Tree City will help the group grow and branch out to reach more residents.

“We’ve done work with water pollution, set aside lands for recreational use instead of development, but no one comes to our meetings from the public, so we thought that if we had the monument, the tree and the sign, it’d grab attention for various conservation issues,” said Richard Bicknell, a member of the Falmouth Conservation Commission. 

Residents may notice recently installed signs along Routes 1 and 100 that commemorate the town’s designation as a Tree City, which is awarded to towns that have made the effort to maintain and conserve its trees.

Many times there is no one from the public at Conservation Commission meetings, Bicknell said, so exposure for the work they do from this award is important, especially with the national reach of Tree City USA.

New signs were added along Route 1 and 100 in Falmouth, commemorating its designation as a Tree City. File photo

“I am happy that this has grabbed some interest from the town, I hope that grows,” he said.

The honor comes after Falmouth met the requirements last year, which includes designating a person to take care of the trees – in this case Public Works Director Jay Reynolds and the Conservation Commission. The town also had to have a tree care ordinance and a forestry budget of at least $2 per capita.

According to Reynolds, the forestry budget is about $24,000, but not all arbor projects tap into those funds, including an inventory of roadside trees being conducted by town staff.

“This will include only street trees along or within the road right-of-ways,” Reynolds said. “We’ve identified over 400 street trees just along U.S. Route 1 and within neighborhoods adjacent to Route 1. My guess is that Falmouth has about 4,000 street trees along its public roadways.”

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry presented the new signs along with a plaque in the Public Works building.

In turn, Public Works planted three white pines, the official state tree, on the island on Route 1 near Route 68.

“Tree City USA communities see the impact an urban forest has in a community firsthand,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “The trees being planted and cared for by Falmouth are ensuring that generations to come will enjoy a better quality of life. Additionally, participation in this program brings residents together and creates a sense of civic pride, whether it’s through volunteer engagement or public education.”

The Tree City program is put on by the Arbor Day Foundation in collaboration with the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters to recognize municipalities that have met forest conservation standards.

Maine is home to now 21 Tree City communities, including Bath, Brunswick, Portland, South Portland, Yarmouth and Westbrook.

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