FARMINGTON — The town and the Farmington Conservation Commission hosted the Maine Arbor Week celebration Tuesday at the Old North Church.

Gov. Paul LePage proclaimed the week of May 18-24 as a time for activities recognizing and appreciating the forest and shade trees, Maine’s most important resource.

A ceremony is held at different municipalities around the state. This was the first time for Farmington to host the event. They did so with help from the Farmington Historical Society.

This is also national emerald ash borer awareness week, Jan Santerre of the Maine Forest Project Canopy and emcee of the program, said. Tags are being posted on ash trees to tell people what the tree does for the community, she said. About 170 ash trees were tagged in the Lewiston-Auburn area this week. Some were being posted in Farmington after the ceremony.

The emerald ash borer has not been found in Maine, guest speaker Doug Denico, director, Maine Forest Service, said. He suspects it is here though.

“The emerald ash borer is one of the most serious invasive species threatening our ash resources and forests,” according to the state Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry website.

Maine’s chestnut trees are gone, so are the elms, he said.

“We have to prepare for the lack of ash. We won’t give up,” he added.

The potential problem has driven a diverse group of people together to consider what to do, he said.

As Conservation Commission members and volunteers involved with tree conservation from cities around the state listened, the department’s deputy commissioner, Dave Lavway, encouraged them to “keep doing what you’re doing. You have the passion for what you do,” he said.

A Frank Knight Excellence in Community Forestry Award was given to Jeff Tarling of Portland. Tarling tends to over 20,000 trees for the city and creates management plans for the city’s forested space of over 1,000 acres, Santerre said.

Santerre acknowledged communities who achieved Tree City USA status. For a town to earn this status, it must have a tree board or conservation commission, an ordinance dealing with tree care, spend $2 per capita on trees and hold an Arbor Day observance with a proclamation, she said.

Farmington has been a Tree City USA for 37 years, as have Kennebunkport and Westbrook. These were three of 19 municipalities acknowledged.

Farmington Conservation Commission Chairman Peter Tracy and member Sally Speich presented local appreciation awards.

The commission created an Adopt a Tree program to provide water and care for Japanese lilacs around downtown, he said. Nearby businesses were asked to adopt them.

Awards were given to Franklin County, US Cellular, Kyes Insurance, Mills Law Office, Mooseville, WKTJ, Bangor Savings and TD Bank.

The commission also recognized Friends of Farmington for its support of the commission’s work, including the Farmington Downtown Association, County Seat Realty and the Mallett School where the town’s Arbor Week event for the past two years has included tree plantings around the new school, Tracy said.

Awards were also given to longtime commission member Bobbie Hanstein, Tony Ramsey of Living Acres, Mt. Blue Garden Club and Robin’s Flower Pot.

Next year, the Arbor Week Celebration will be held in Orono, Santerre said.

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