It's About the Land 8-10-2012

Totoket Times August 10, 2012

The North Branford Land Conservation Trust, Incorporated

It’s About the Land 


”You don’t know what you got till it’s gone” the theme from the song Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell is as relevant for shade trees, forests and open space in our town as it was in 1970 when she wrote the song. Now that the trees and forests in our town are fully clothed in foliage, we begin to appreciate the benefits they provide. Forest trees, for example, hold soil in place during unusually heavy rain storms, especially on steep slopes. Forest and shade trees also modify high temperatures by transpiring moisture into the atmosphere through tiny pores or stomata in their leaves. Until recently people overlooked the function of trees in their capacity to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it into carbon, locking it up for long period of time as wood. When summer comes to a close and cold nights and the bright, crisp cool days of autumn prevail, we all enjoy the colorful displays of tree foliage. We take other benefits of trees for granted: like comforting shade for hot summer days, screening of conflicting land uses, and softening the visual impact of stark but necessary things such as utility poles, cables and lines. Trees go unappreciated until they suddenly vanish.


Although we thought we were prepared for the visual impact that comes with rebuilding highway infrastructure along route 80, the clearing of forest and shade trees along the highway to create a better intersection came as a shock even to this ”old-timer”, a resident of town since 1960. Unsightly utility poles laden with wires and cables now stand against the background of excavation on the slope of Great Hill devoid of trees. Yes, they will be relocated, and new trees will be planted where it is possible to do so. But the landscape of yesterday is gone forever. We understand that growth must be accommodated and sometimes the only way is by making a drastic change to an old familiar landscape. But at the same time we need to renew our appreciation of trees and forests. Both are equally important features of our community’s landscape. We need to protect what we have left.


Otto Schaefer, Secretary