Tree vandalism stymies Greenfield committee

Two trees were debarked at Lunt Field in Greenfield, causing concern for the city’s Tree Committee. The incident  was the second instance of alleged tree vandalism the field has seen in the last five years.

Two trees were debarked at Lunt Field in Greenfield, causing concern for the city’s Tree Committee. The incident was the second instance of alleged tree vandalism the field has seen in the last five years. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

The debarking was the second instance of alleged tree vandalism Lunt Field has seen in the last five years.

The debarking was the second instance of alleged tree vandalism Lunt Field has seen in the last five years. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 06-08-2024 7:28 PM

GREENFIELD — After being disheartened to find two trees completely stripped of their bark at Lunt Field — the second instance of alleged tree vandalism the field has seen in the last five years — the Tree Committee is unsure whether to put the effort into replacing the trees again.

Tree Committee leader Mary Chicoine said she was pruning trees at Lunt Field, located on Norwood Street, with City Council President John Bottomley in late May when the pair stumbled across two young trees, a maple tree and black gum tree, that had been debarked from the branches to the base, a state in which trees can not survive.

“The intentional destruction is disheartening,” Bottomley said. “Countless volunteer hours went into fundraising, planting and maintaining these trees.”

Black gum trees, Chicoine said, are a particularly slow-growing species, meaning it would take roughly 10 to 12 years for a new tree to mature.

“That’s certain death for a tree, it can’t live without its bark,” Chicoine said. “The bark strips were lying at the base of the tree. It’s not anything that an animal would have done — there was no evidence of teeth marks or claw marks or anything like that. It really appears that it was removed by humans.”

The Tree Committee planted roughly 24 trees at the field in 2020, in an effort to replace some of the site’s older ash trees, which Chicoine said were being killed by emerald ash borer insects.

A year later, three maple trees at Lunt Field were found with their tops broken off, leading Chicoine to call the police reporting vandalism. The Tree Committee also hung flyers around the neighborhood requesting that the community keep an eye out for vandalism in the area.

“We surmised it was young people peeling trees when they’re at various games. Parents need to be advised,” Deputy Police Chief William Gordon told the Greenfield Recorder.

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Although Chicoine said the members of the Tree Committee, if they choose to, will replace the vandalized trees themselves, she noted that the price of purchasing, transporting and planting two new trees would cost the committee approximately $4,000. Disheartened by the repeated vandalism, Chicoine said she is unsure if the committee will put the effort into replacing the trees again.

Bottomley said the city’s volunteer tree-planting effort makes him optimistic for Greenfield’s overall tree health.

“There is tremendous community support for tree planting and recognition of the value that these public trees provide,” Bottomley said. “All losses put together, we still have a good survival rate for the over 700 trees planted through the U.S. Forest Service grant.”

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.