FARMINGTON — As a Tree City, Farmington celebrated Arbor Day on Tuesday with a presentation on the downtown Tree Inventory taken in 2015.

Phil Hutchins, director of Farmington Public Works, also discussed the town’s and homeowners’ responsibility for trees within the town’s right of way, a space basically defined as 25 feet from the center of a road.

The Fire Department was receiving calls for downed trees and liability became an issue, Patty Cormier, forester and Conservation Commission member, said. 

Funding was available through the Forest Service and a grant was received for the inventory and a plan to manage trees safely in the downtown area.

A total of 592 trees were surveyed in the right of way of Downtown Farmington. Eighteen trees of critical concern for public safety were identified, she said. The recommendation was for removal.

But, of the 592 trees surveyed, 46 species and 28 genera were found, she said. Downtown Farmington’s most abundant tree species are sugar maple, Norway maple, crab apple silver maple and northern red oak.

“Nearly 60 percent of Maine’s native tree species are found within Downtown Farmington,” Cormier said.

Some recommendations, based on the inventory, include more communication with Public Works which oversees the trees in the right of way; prioritize management of the 109 trees flagged for monitoring; develop and fund a tree warden to implement the management plan; establish a pruning program; and advocate for an annual municipal tree budget that includes maintenance, pruning and planting.

Students on the Envirothon Team at Spruce Mountain High School in Jay, under the direction of teacher Rob Taylor, had just taken a course on community forestry through the University of Maine prior to the inventory. They came to help volunteers learn to use the iPhone app and do the survey. 

“The kids learned while helping,” said Taylor, who attended the presentation. “The Envirothon team went on to place sixth in North America in community forestry.”

Hutchins encouraged checking with his department to determine if a tree is in the public right of way. 

The department considers the potential for the tree to cause traffic accidents, plowing issues or the benefit-costs of the overhead canopy.

Trees that create a canopy over the road mean more shade and more salt needed. Removal can alleviate frost heaves and less maintenance of the road, he said

Before planting, he suggested calling his office to determine if there are water or sewer lines below or power lines above. 

The national Tree City program has existed for 38 years. Farmington has been in it for 36 years, Sally Speich, secretary of the town’s Conservation Commission, said.

To be named as a Tree City, the community must sponsor a Conservation Commission, plant trees and hold an Arbor Day celebration, she said.

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Farmington Conservation Commission Chairman Peter Tracy was recognized for his eight years of service as chairman of the commission Tuesday during an Arbor Day celebration. Tracy, a forester, said he has been involved with the commission for many years.

Sally Speich, secretary of the Farmington Conservation Commission, prepares to acknowledge Peter Tracy for his eight years as chairman of the commission during an Arbor Day celebration on Tuesday.


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