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Minding the Trees

Wed, 03/13/2024 - 17:39


Considering the state of the trees on the South Fork, lately, it has felt rather as if we’ve been in the midst of some sort of arboreal apocalypse. Note: the frankly rather hellish state of some areas of Northwest Woods (the woods that aren’t worthy of the name any longer, in some corners, following a beetle infestation brought here by climate change). See also the recent hue and cry over tree preservation in Sag Harbor, and recent headlines about blight on Napeague and beech trees under disease threat, as well. Trees are a hot topic in 2024.

Is all of this merely ecological coincidence? Absolutely not. Global warming, which brings new insects and diseases, is showing its devastating hand. And anyone who has been observing the trees for more than a few years understands that overdevelopment and clear-cutting have gone beyond an environmentally safe tipping point.

And that’s why we thank heaven for the Ladies Village Improvement Society. If it weren’t for more than a century and a quarter of the L.V.I.S. tree committee’s well-informed and well-researched guardianship, we wouldn’t have the leafy canopy overhead here in the village, even though we had to bid farewell to some of our old friends last month. It’s not just that the L.V.I.S. has preserved the elm here in the village — the elm being the symbol of both the women’s civic organization itself and of our community — it’s that their care has no doubt prevented further onward spread of blight and disease.

When the leaves come out in the trees this spring, in April and May, look up. We can no longer afford to take our trees for granted. We call them “sentinels” — guardians who keep watch over our town. Pay heed. They are raising their branches in alarm.

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