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Damaged East Hampton Elm Is Saved

Thu, 06/06/2024 - 13:39
“We installed a cable system on the tree,” Jackson Dodds said, “so that the branches can work together instead of tearing apart in a storm.”
Durell Godfrey

An old elm tree thought to be lost after an intense storm roared through East Hampton two weeks ago is still standing thanks to the efforts of the village Highway Department and Jackson Dodds & Co., a tree care business.

The elm tree, rooted in the South End Burying Ground on James Lane near Mill Road, was hit hard by the storm. One of its limbs broke off, crashing onto headstones and a work van that was parked nearby. It was expected that the tree would have to be removed, yet another venerable elm to be taken down in the village this year.

Over the winter three prominent elms were removed downtown, one in front of Louis Vuitton, another in front of J. Crew and a third near the Ladies Village Improvement Society headquarters. At the time The Star reported that there were fewer than 100 American elms left in the village.

“I can’t tell you how sad I was,” Oliva Brooks, chairwoman of the L.V.I.S. Tree Committee, said last week. “I thought we lost it for good.” However, within a few days of the incident she received a phone call from the Highway Department notifying her that the tree might be saved. “When I heard that this group was coming together,” she said, “and coming up with a new plan, I was so happy.”

The group in question included Jackson Dodds, Tony Medeiros, the arborist with the Village Department of Public Works, and Ken Brown, vice president of the South End Cemetery Association. While observing the damage done to the tree they noticed, “We started recognizing that there was potential, and we know the value of the tree,” Mr. Dodds said.

They went to work clearing the damage. “We gave it a good pruning,” Mr. Brown said, “and we cleaned up the crown.” Additionally they did work on the tree to prevent this from happening again in the future. “We installed a cable system on the tree,” Mr. Dodds said, “so that the branches can work together instead of tearing apart in a storm.”

What struck Mr. Dodds the most throughout this experience was the way that all parties throughout the village came together with the same interest. “They see the long-term value,” he said, “as long as it’s not a risk they say save the tree.”

When Ms. Brooks heard the news, she said last Thursday, “I popped open a bottle of champagne.”

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