Marking 200 Years of Madison with 200-or More-Trees
It might take a native New England elm, oak, dogwood, or beech decades to reach maturity, and some can grow for centuries, silent witnesses and monuments alongside the fleeting activities of humans as they tower over houses, roads, towns. What better way, then, to mark the passage of time while simultaneously reminding residents of the importance of nature and conservation, than planting trees?
Late last month, Madison resident Fran Brady planted the first of what is intended to be 200 native trees that will take root before the town’s 200th anniversary in 2026. The project is planned as a reminder of stewardship and eco-conscious practices as well as a way to mark the civic occasion for posterity.
“We’re kind of in the early stages,” First Selectman Peggy Lyons said. “Personally, I think we can do some great things.”
Envisioned as a public-private partnership that would have organizations, businesses, or even just individuals sponsor trees or offer their land, Brady, who came up with the project and continues to spearhead it, said he hoped to see more and more residents rally around the initiative, which will prioritize native tree species and educational efforts.
“I’d like to have this managed properly, and we have plenty of time to get there,” he said.
Madison’s former tree warden, Bob Kuchta, has signed onto the project, Brady said, bringing a wealth of experience around the ecological and planning issues. He added he hoped to see the Chamber of Commerce and individual local businesses jump into the fray, with the possibility that sponsorship could serve almost as an advertising opportunity through a plaque or other commemorative display.
The town itself will certainly have to play a role, though Brady said the hope is there will be little or no cost to taxpayers. Finding town property that can host the trees is one of the first steps, according to Brady, with a few places already identified as possibilities.
Lyons said she viewed the addition of trees as a special opportunity that might lead into an overall “beautification” effort, looking at signage, roads, or other landscaping. Having trees, or even a “tree corridor” at one of the town entrances or parks is an option, she said.
“We have like, Longshore Lane or Hotchkiss Road for example where you have these wonderful canopies, and they’re very, I think, awe-inspiring. If we could somehow do that in some high-profile locations in Madison, that would be great,” Lyons said.
The North Madison Circle where Route 79 meets Route 80 is another area in which Brady said he hoped the town could plant some trees, as well as a few spots on Route 1. He added that expectations might have to be tempered, however, as the logistics of both ecology, safety, and legality will need to be addressed and many prominent locations may be unfeasible.
Whether the town is able to provide land, labor, or even the trees themselves, Brady said private organizations will be key to making the initiative work.
The very first tree was planted on property owned by the E.C. Scranton Library, and Brady said the “collaboration” might look like about 30 trees picked up by the town and 170 by private parties, though all of that is still being worked on as he speaks to the historical society, garden club, and other civic organizations.
“We’re getting all the right tools and people lined up,” he said.
Other towns have done similar projects with varying approaches, and Brady said he has been putting together a more comprehensive overview of how tree-planting has been carried out. That information will be presented to the Board of Selectmen in the near future, he added.
But the hope is that initiative will be taken up by Madison residents themselves, who will get behind an initiative that will ornament the town and augment its natural beauty long after they are gone.
For more information or opportunities around the tree-planting initiative, residents can email Mad4Trees@gmail.com.