Vol. II No. 04 2/15/2021
30-foot wall of mud as multiple trees collapsed in a recent windstorm. Photo: Patrick White.
Let's Start a Conversation About Our Trees
by Patrick White
After a recent severe storm, several mature hemlocks collapsed in tandem, creating a wall of now-frozen mud that reaches nearly 30 feet tall (see photo above). Imagine if this stand fell toward your home.
Below, you will see a picture of one of our mature Hemlocks at town-owned Ice Glen. It is estimated to be 250-300 years old, meaning that as John Sergeant roamed these woods with his newly-made Mohican friends, he might easily have passed this sapling in his midst.
Ice Glen is an Old-Growth forest: it has never been logged. Old-Growth expert Bob Leverett tells me it contains the oldest-known Hemlocks in Massachusetts and the tallest in all of New England. It also contains ancient White Ash, Pine and other species. Some of these trees are estimated to be 500 years old, making them contemporaries of Henry VIII, King of England.
And yet, for the first time in half a millenium, these trees are threatened by newly-arrived pests. Anyone with a yard in Stockbridge has witnessed the mass die-off of White Ash trees due to the Ash Bore, and Woolly Adelgid is starting to attack and kill the Berkshire's Hemlocks. We've already witnessed in our lifetimes the die-off of Elms and Chestnuts. Are these magnificent stands the next to go? How will climate change exacerbate these problems?
On Wednesday, I hope to spend the day, weather permitting, with Bob and two other internationally-renowned tree experts to evaluate this forest. They are volunteering their time to assess the state of this forest and recommend whether the town should inoculate these trees to save them. That's the good news: there is tree medicine you can inject into the tree that kills these pests, giving us a way to potentially save these stands for generations to come.
The Town has recently received a grant to develop a plan to mitigate our vulnerabilities to climate change. Following acceptance of the plan by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Stockbridge can apply for funding to implement the priority actions. Over the next few months, we will be engaging many of you in this process. If you would like to learn more, give me a call at 413-441-5231 or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor's note: Patrick White is a selectman in Stockbridge.
At up to 300 years old, John Sergeant was a contemporary of this Ice Glen Hemlock. Photo: Bob Leverett.