Opinion:  Felling Of Merry Maple Was Premature, Lamentable

A worker from Lyndon Tree Care takes down the Merry Maple on November 17, 2022. Photo: Art Keene

Just in time for the Holidays the powers that be in Amherst have allowed the legacy “Merry Maple” tree on the Town Common to be cut up and destroyed. This Norway Maple, planted in 1875, has been the focus of yearly holiday festivities and helped create fond memories for generations of residents from Amherst and the surrounding communities. Countless appeals from townspeople and others to save the fabled tree were dismissed even though various arborists and the Amherst Tree Warden himself noted in the Amherst Bulletin that the tree could live another 20 or 25 years. Strangely, a majority of Amherst Shade Tree Committee members signed off on the cutting as well. Apparently, it’s all about development in this once quaint town and plans to redevelop the North Common were deemed more important than tradition or preservation.

With just weeks away from the traditional holiday celebration in front of the Merry Maple, workers arrived this Thursday (11/17) morning with boom trucks and chainsaws. The evening before people gathered to both celebrate and mourn the tree’s demise but no one chose to defend the tree at the 11th hour. Trees, especially older trees, are among the few natural carbon capture sources on the planet and crucial to capturing CO2 emissions and storing the carbon, thereby confronting the climate crisis. The days of neglect for trees in forests and in our communities must end. Future generations will be watching what we do in these times.

Don Ogden blogs on environmental issues at Concerto For A Blunt Instrument and hosts the Enviro Show on Valley Free Radio (WXOJ-LP, Northampton) and WMCB, Greenfield.

The felling of the Merry Maple, November 17, 2022. Photo: Art Keene
The felling of the Merry Maple, November 17, 2022. Photo: Art Keene

Spread the love

4 thoughts on “Opinion:  Felling Of Merry Maple Was Premature, Lamentable

  1. Those in power in Amherst are using it to sell out the town’s New England appeal for short term gain for their own interests. They’re destroying the very aspects of it that made it appealing, by tearing it down, cutting it down, and replacing it all with suburban blight. They tell themselves and everyone else it’s necessary. And the population that cares is too demoralized, too disempowered, too beleaguered, too propagandized, too subverted to recognize they’re the only ones who could stop it.

  2. We could have stopped this execution from happening. There was no need for us to lose the Merry Maple. Many arborists and research scientists from UMass said, with support, the MM could live another 20-25 years. The town did not value her presence enough. The message to children, our next generation, is that elders are disposable. When they start to decline, just cut them down.

    Any of us could have stopped this from happening. All we needed to do was stand with MM the morning the chainsaws appeared. Just stand with our beloved tree, and not budge. Where were our brave comrades? My heart aches about this loss. A magnificent living being, 150 years old, wise beyond any human mortal. We let her down; we let ourselves down; we let our children down. There is no forgiveness or amends to be offered. We didn’t stand up in her final hour.

  3. Thanks Don, and John. You’re so right and I always agree with wise and smart opinions for the common good. The town councilors, wardens and coordinators knew that there was a numerous group against the execution of the MM. But they had other plans. Since August I’ve been sending letters to them to reconsider and stop the destruction for many reasons: traditional, social, educational, historical, cultural, ecological. It didn’t help.
    Symbols like the Merry Maple, are logical entities charged with meaningful connotations for and by the residents. They must be kept in good functioning condition as long as possible. This unethical destruction will be remembered.

  4. It’s a shameful day for this community that we put to death a living thing in order to rebuild with concrete.
    The contribution of trees to our health and well-being is well documented, but we seem not to care about lives not exactly like our own. That these lives support the ecosystem without which we ourselves would not be alive doesn’t matter. We just destroy. Saying goodbye as though we’re sending family off on a vacation is worse. It does not recognize the choices we are making.
    Would we put our grandmother to death while she still has many years left in her, simply because she is dying?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.