City Council President Peter Marchetti read a proclamation declaring Arbor Day in the city.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The American chestnut tree was so woven into the fabric of early American life that it was referred to as a "cradle to grave" tree: when a child was born, he was placed in a chestnut cradle and when he dies, in a chestnut coffin.
Between 4 billion to 5 billion of the trees crowded the Eastern United State's landscape and was used for construction and food for both humans and animals. It was economic for wood and nut harvesters. It was a fixture in the ecosystem for wild animals. Farmers used the nuts to feed livestock. Telephone poles, split-post fences, shingles, musical instruments, railroad ties were all built with the timber.
"It was the dominant hardwood trees in the Eastern forest," said Brian Clark of the Massachusetts and Rhode Island chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation.
But in the early part of the 20th century, a fungus was imported from China and Japan that the American Chestnut has little to no resistance to. By 1950, nearly all of American chestnuts in Massachusetts had died and hillsides throughout Appalachia were left barren.
More recently, arborists in the United States launched what could be considered the most aggressive effort to repopulate the landscape with the species. That effort includes Springside Park, where a seed orchard is located. Hundreds of seedling were planted inside a locked area of the park two years. More plantings will be done this year and the trees will be standing 6 feet to 8 feet tall in just a couple years.
The young trees are being inoculated with the fungus and their resistance will be measured. In about 10 years, only 20 or so will be left — but those 20 will have full resistance that they will pass on through their seeds. Those next generations will be distributed for re-plantings.
"We've got six of those orchards started," Clark said of the regional effort.
The seed orchard at Springside Park was highlighted on Friday as the city celebrated Arbor Day. The event featured a proclamation from City Council President Peter Marchetti declaring the holiday and the planting of two more hybrid American chestnuts in the orchard.
"Pittsfield has a long history being involved with trees and tree projects," Parks and Open Space Manager James McGrath said.
Not only is there the seed garden, the city also won a grant to replant trees at Wellesley Park and the state announced a Greening the Gateway Cities program to plant some 800 new trees in each of the next three years. The city has also brought on arborist Bob Presutti as a staff member to manage the city's landscape.
There has been somewhat of a rejuvenation at Springside. A new master plan has been developed that includes a wide mixture of priorities — including conservation, recreation, restoration of the Springside House and the pond. In those plans, educational opportunities have been cited and the orchard is one of those.
"This is a park for everyone, a real diversity of usages. But, it is also a park people want to help out," McGrath said, citing cleanups and other volunteer efforts.
For Marchetti, Springside was the "park of choice" when he was a child growing up in the Morningside Neighborhood. He reaffirmed Mayor Linda Tyer's commitment toward those efforts to improve the park.
"Springside Park is a true gem and asset to the city of Pittsfield," Marchetti said.
To conclude the event, Clark and McGrath's son, Ian, planted two new trees in the orchard.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Comments are closed for this article. If you would like to contribute information on this article, e-mail us at info@iBerkshires.com
Friends of the Pittsfield Senior Center Seek Volunteers
By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Friends of the Senior Center is in need of more volunteers so it can provide more opportunities at the Ralph J. Froio Senior Center.
"The Senior Center is a structure that is financed by the city of Pittsfield, but it's the friends that really support all the extra activities that take place in the Senior Center," said Friends' Treasurer Lea Morgan said.
The center was renamed and dedicated to Ralph J. Froio by the city in 1993 for in recognition of his civil leadership and the "countless hours in volunteer service to his community, especially in senior citizens’ affairs," the Council on Aging states on the city website.
There are people today who allocate a lot of their time to brainstorm ideas, and provide opportunities for center visitors but a lot of people who visit the center have not joined as a member of the Friends, Morgan said.
The finance subcommittee on Tuesday authorized the transfer of $230,000 from the Public Works Stabilization Account to the Department of Public Services for inflated costs of liquid asphalt. click for more
The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow is a product of little coincidental moments that all added up to create something that you wouldn't expect to work but did and made something entirely unique, Keane said.
click for more