2017-11-10 / Community

News Briefs

TREE WATCH — Kennebunkport selectmen have appointed local photographer John Ripton to the town’s shade tree committee, a group that has undergone “major changes and transitions” in the past year, according to its chairman, Suzanne Stohlman.

The committee has recently completed pamphlets for walking tour of 24 trees in the downtown village area, available on the town website, and is in the process of creating a similar self-guided tour map for Cape Porpoise, Stohlman told selectmen at their Oct. 26 meeting.

The committee also is “near completion,” Stohlman said, of a project several years in the making to create a GIS (Geographic Information System) map designed to identify all significant trees in town.

That work is particularly important, given the retirement of longtime town arborist Bob Palmer. Stohlman said Palmer will remain in a consulting role, but the town may have to contract out for actual tree cutting work in the future, “I think this [GIS map] is a much-needed project because with Bob Palmer retiring, we needed to have all of that accumulated knowledge and wisdom documented so we can access it and use it in our planning going forward,” board chairman Patrick Briggs said.

Kennebunkport’s shade tree committee was created in the early 1960s as a response to the spread of Dutch elm disease and Palmer, co-founder of Tamarack Tree and Landscaping, began working with it in the late 1970s — at a time when the town was reportedly still losing about 20 percent of its elms each year.

“At one time we had more than 2,000 elm trees in town,” Briggs said, “and it’s only because of the efforts of the shade tree committee and the injections they do and the monitoring of the trees, that we still have 100 [elm] trees. Other towns have none.”

We and Castine are the only two towns in Maine that have any kind of real count of Elm trees left,” Stohlman said. “It’s really an extraordinary situation to have them at all.”

Ripton, meanwhile, is not stranger to the town’s elm status. This past spring he joined a new elm watch team created by Stohlman and Palmer.

About a dozen local residents including Ripton trained to spot the early warning signs of Dutch elm disease and spent the summer monitoring the town’s remaining stock for any needed intervention.

Among the volunteers were David Doubleday, Barbara Emmons, Bob Gordon, Lisanne James, Allyn Lamb, Norma Lamb, Mary McLaughlin, Jim McMahon, Nina Pealmutter, Steve Powell, Beverly Soule and Betsy Stevens.

Ripton wrote an article about this year’s elm watch efforts for the town’s Fall 2017 newsletter. That 8-page document, now in its 28th edition, can be downloaded online at goo.gl/kXGrV9.

WINTER MEETINGS — With the upcoming holidays playing havoc with their meeting schedule, Kennebunkport selectmen have thrown in the towel on their second meetings in November and December.

The board’s regular fourth-Thursday meeting in November would have fallen on the 23rd, which is Thanksgiving Day. Instead, selectmen will hold a brief session at 9 a.m on Wednesday, Nov. 22, at town hall, to sign bi-weekly warrants. Also tentatively canceled is the Dec. 28 meeting, with the board electing to meet that morning, also at 9 a.m. at town hall, to sign spending warrants.

Town Manager Laurie Smith said that evening’s meeting might get put back on the schedule if enough business should present itself requiring the board’s attention.

Compiled by Staff Writer Duke Harrington. He can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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