AN INDEPENDENT PROGRAM OF TOWER HILL BOTANIC GARDEN
Burncoat: Past, Present, and Future Recap
On Saturday, 10/29/16, we hosted a guided walk through part of the Burncoat/Greendale Neighborhood to look at the impact of Asian Longhorned Beetle and the effect of the replanting efforts 7 years later. Clark University PhD student, Arthur Elmes, wowed us with the research he has been doing on temperature change in Worcester using a combination of satellite data and local temperature sensors.
Arthur and the Human-Environment Regional Observatory (H.E.R.O.) Program at Clark have been able to track the changes in temperature in the neighborhood from pre- tree removal to present conditions. Using the pre-removal temperatures as a baseline we can see that the average temperatures from June through August went up about 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter conditions remain more or less the same, or perhaps a few degrees warmer. The real change is felt in the summer when the days are longer and the exposed pavement and rooftops are absorbing heat and holding onto it. Such a dramatic temperature increase makes your neighborhood considerably hotter in the summer and incurs higher energy bills. Our walking tour began on Whitmarsh Ave at the intersection with Leeds St. Whitmarsh Ave is somewhat unique within the neighborhood because it offers a view of what the rest of the neighborhood used to look like. The lower portion of the street still has a full canopy of Linden trees, which are thankfully not targets of Asian Longhorned Beetle. Since they cannot be effected by the beetle they remain as a testament of the canopy that was. The trees are 25” in diameter on average and rise up to 30-40’ tall. The linden trees are mostly in good condition, they shade the street, the sidewalk, and the houses next to them, and they make the street a very pleasant place to walk. Leeds street offers us the contrasting view, a street with no street trees. The sidewalk is at least 6 feet wide and yet not one tree is planted along the street from the nearby King Philip Road down to Kendrick Ave. We look to this street to get a sense of what many streets must have felt like in the time between removal and planting. The view from one end to the street is very clear, which is not the case with adjacent Whitmarsh. When the sun shines the light glares off of windows and lightly colored houses and if it were a summer day this street would offer no relief from the heat. In the winter, it will offer nothing to break the wind. We walked up the street toward Summerhill Ave and turned our attention to that street, which did get replanted after the ALB infestation. As we trekked up the hill we took note of the trees that had been planted 6 or 7 years ago. They are getting tall and beefy! We measured one of the pin oak trees at about 7 inches in diameter. We know that they get planted at between 2 and 3 inches in caliper (which is measured at the base of the tree). Since the tree tapers that usually equates to about 1.5 inches DBH (diameter at breast height, 54” up the trunk). That means that many of these trees have put on about 5 inches of girth in just 7 years. They grow up so fast! We also noticed a couple other remaining species, mostly evergreens. Pines and other conifers are not targeted by ALB so now the neighborhood’s tallest trees are all evergreens and they stand out against the skyline, towering over the homes they live beside. The most notble trees we saw up close was a VERY large White Pine tree measuring about 35” in diameter. Estimates vary when trying to come up with a tree’s age based on its diameter, it’s all so dependent on the climate and conditions the tree is living in, as well as the species and how fast it grows, but one estimate I found was nearly 150 years old. Take that with a grain of salt because, as I said, there are a lot of variables, but in any case, this tree is old and it is thriving. We had a lot of fun hosting this walk and would love to do it again next year. If you did not make it this time around, we think you would like it and we hope you will join us next time. Also, if you know of another neighborhood or set of streets we should investigate for a possible tree walk we invite your input; send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nearby Granville Ave, in the background you can see the large evergreens poking out of people's back yards and if you look closely you can see the street trees running the entire length of the street.