“Hey! We live in Vermont, people come here and see the trees we love."
Name: Dan Adams
Profession: Private Consulting Forester
Area: 32.63 square miles
Years serving as tree warden: at least 20
Favorite Tree: red maple (Acer rubrum)
Advice for other tree wardens: “The first thing is to create a tree advisory board, the next piece is the tree ordinance; where you go from there is straight to Elise [VT UCF].”
Dan Adams has always had an affinity for forests. He grew up in Keene, NH where as a kid, he enjoyed hunting in the woods. As Dan grew older he gave up hunting, preferring to let the animals live, but he still enjoyed his time outside. In high school, he got a summer job doing forestry, fulfilling both his desire to be outside and to earn some money. Dan pursued this interest through college, graduating from the University of Maine with a degree in forestry, after which he made his way to Vermont. In Brattleboro, Dan works as a private consulting forester, with over 35 years in the forestry business. But Dan’s doesn’t discriminate; he likes trees even when they’re not in the forest. Since the mid-90’s Dan has served as the town tree warden for Brattleboro, working to beautify the urban environment.
Dan found himself in the role of tree warden after the town’s decision to take down a row of large pine trees stirred dissent among the local population. This controversy highlighted the need for a person to oversee town trees and to act as a go between for the public and the town. At the time, there was no one in Brattleboro acting in the role of tree warden, but Dan was part of a citizen organization called Trees Please, which supported tree plantings and maintenance. He had always had a hand in volunteer work, from manning hotlines to building playgrounds, so it makes sense that when pushed by another Trees Please member, Helene Henry, Dan decided to step up to protect and care for the trees in Brattleboro.
From the very beginning of his time as tree warden, Dan has been instrumental in the development of tree care in Brattleboro. One of Dan’s first projects was advocating for the establishment of the Brattleboro Tree Advisory Board. The group is recognized as an official town board, giving it certain privileges and access to town officials. The board is comprised of 5 to 6 members who meet once a month and work to plant trees, write grants, conduct tree inventories, and generally take action for the trees. Working together with the town highway department, the board spent four years developing a comprehensive tree ordinance. The ordinance is incredibly thorough, stipulating what each of the town’s responsibilities are, to the detail of identifying each of the areas in town where the tree warden has authority. Dan is proud of this work but also generous, offering the Brattleboro Tree Ordinance up to any other towns to use as an example. They’ve done most of the work so that other towns could pick and choose the pieces they like.
One of Dan’s strengths as tree warden is his willingness to accept help. This is especially true in the relationship Dan has formed with VT UCF. When asked what advice he would give to new tree wardens he said go straight to Elise (the program's technical assistance coordinator). With Elise’s help, Brattleboro was able to complete a web-based tree inventory which they have been able to put to use immediately. Dan and the members of the Tree Advisory Board secured a large grant for tree care in Brattleboro but they didn’t know which trees needed help. Using the inventory, they were able to map and number each tree on the Brattleboro common and then identify maintenance needs of the trees.
Dan sees as a significant change in his role and that of the Tree Advisory Board in the future; Dan currently operates on a Brattleboro tree budget of $3,000 a year, which hardly covers removals of hazardous trees (a job he sees as paramount in protecting the public). The Tree Advisory Board has recently been working with VT UCF to develop a tree management plan, which will shift Dan’s tree warden role from reacting to situtations to supporting proactive tree management. As the management plan develops, Dan envisions a scenario in which he can plant trees without having to worry that they will be plowed over; instead, a plan, precedent, and crew of people will be there to ensure the well-being of all town's trees.
While he may not be a native Vermonter himself, Dan’s perspective emphasizes just how special Vermont is. He describes the desire by some to plant exotic species of trees, but to Dan, there’s nothing better than the traditional maples. Maples embody the character of Vermont and while he’s sad that sugar maples are damaged by road salt, red maples seem to thrive. Dan gets a satisfaction from the urban environment, beautifying it, and seeing his hard work pay off.
Thank you to Dan Adams for bringing a passion for trees to your role as Brattleboro tree warden, you are an inspiration to us all!
- Dan's tree warden profile was written by Greta Binzen, VT UCF 2017 summer intern