Town not doing much to replace dead trees

Town not doing much to replace dead trees

A row of trees along Mineral Spring Avenue near Lowe’s appears to be mostly dead. The town has lost much of its tree-scape in recent years, with only spotty efforts to replace them. (Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)

NORTH PROVIDENCE – With the exception of a small project here and there, North Providence hasn’t undertaken a major tree-planting initiative since planting 50 or so trees near Birchwood Middle School in 2010, longtime Tree Warden Fayette Amsden confirmed this week.

And while other communities offer sidewalk tree-planting programs and other incentives for residents to plant new trees on their own, North Providence really doesn’t, leaving a tree cover decimated by drought and insects to slowly dwindle.

There has been no true study to determine just how many trees have been lost over the past decade, said the part-time Amsden, but the town certainly has lost quite a few. He said he gets called in only when it’s time to inspect a tree that’s dead or infested by insects and deemed hazardous, and Northeastern Tree is then brought in to take care of such trees on town property.

Amsden’s good friend, the late Roland Mergener, was North Providence’s staunchest advocate for planting new trees, particularly in the Fruit Hill neighborhood, but no one has really taken up that cause since he died in 2011.

A drive around town reveals that many of the evergreen arborvitae trees, often used as property barriers and screens, have also died, in addition to the taller trees.

The fact that the town is so over-developed, with so many trees located in close proximity to where plows push snow and salt, further adds to the issues created by climate conditions and insects. North Providence also has a dearth of street trees.

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Amsden, who was set to be reappointed as tree warden on Tuesday, Jan. 12, said he would be willing to help coordinate any type of program the town starts, perhaps in the spring, though he noted that he has limited hours and the pandemic has complicated such efforts. He said it’s also become more difficult to acquire the money for such plantings.

Asked this week about the town’s efforts on trees, Mayor Charles Lombardi conceded to The Breeze that such efforts really haven’t been much of a priority, but he would certainly consider doing more to push them.

The trees Amsden inspects after getting called often look like they’re on private property, said the warden, but the town is responsible for them because they’re within 6 feet of the asphalt.

A healthy tree cover is considered important for a number of reasons, including creating lower temperatures in neighborhoods, reducing pollution, lowering exposure to the sun, and overall contributing to the beauty and quality of life in the community.


Anybody can plant a tree, it's easy to do. It's time to give back instead of time to take. Plant a tree this spring, do your part. I make such effort every spring. Give back, it's time.