An old friend

Hanging in there

I’ve been walking past this old soft maple for decades. It’s about two miles west of my farm. It continues to survive even as it loses more branches each winter. Very likely, it was planted by the CCC–the Civilian Conservation Corps–in the 1930s. The CCC planted fast-growing species, like soft maples, along roadsides throughout the north country. Now, 70-80 years later, many are dying. Seems to me it’s time to encourage widespread new plantings along our roads.

When I walk past trees like this one–humble, unassuming, yet essential to our landscape–I feel connected to that earlier time and imagine the crews of young men working up and down the roads with shovels and sacks of small saplings.

Anything we plant today will connect us to those who will people our landscape a century from now. I think that’s pretty cool.

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4 Comments on “An old friend”

  1. erb says:

    Never realized the trees were from the CCC! Thanks for the thought.

  2. Ellen Rocco says:

    My friend Clyde, who used to be road supervisor in our town, was the source of this information. Before he retired from the position, he started planting new saplings along roadsides because so many of the CCC trees were dying or had been cut down to accommodate widened roads.

  3. tootightmike says:

    As I heard it from a few different sources, many of our huge roadside maples were planted in 1900, by landowners who were either paid by the county or given a per/tree tax break. In the days of dirt roads and horses, a tree lined road had less snow, less rain, and more shade in summer…all helpful in the longevity of the road and the horses. If only we had the foresight to realise that these things would also be useful in the 21st century…we should have planted more in 1950, but we believed that all our problems would be solved by science, oil, and super seeds.
    In Potsdam, the village has a parking lot, back behind the Elks Club. It has a green strip with trees between every two rows of cars. On a summer day, when you think the sun just might kill you before you reach your destination…that parking lot is 5 to 10 degrees cooler. By contrast if you visit the Price Chopper parking lot, where there’s not a tree for two hundred yards, the temperature is 5 to 10 degrees hotter than anywhere else. High winds, horizontal driving rain, and blowing sand…all because we won’t plant some trees.

  4. Ellen Rocco says:

    Tootight: I think you’re right about the large, hard maples being planted at the turn of the last century. The CCC tended to plant the soft species, like the one pictured in the blog entry: fast growing but short-lived.

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