Monday, August 20, 2007

A nest of robins in her hair.*

In yesterday’s Providence Sunday Journal, Paul Davis wrote, “RI forests are losing ground”. He tells us that “A relentless march of development is eating into the State’s forests, threatening the natural, economic and spiritual benefits of Rhode Island’s woods.”

In 1861, Henry David Thoreau asked, “What are the natural features which make a township handsome? A river, with its waterfalls and meadows, a lake, a hill, a cliff or individual rocks, a forest, and ancient trees standing singly. Such things are beautiful; they have a high use which dollars and cents never represent. If the inhabitants of a town were wise they would preserve such things; for such things educate more than any hired teachers or preachers, or any at present recognized system of school education. I do not think him fit to be the founder of a state or even of a town who does not foresee the use of these things, but legislates chiefly for oxen, as it were.” ( from H. D. Thoreau: A Writer’s Journal, p. 226)

Old photographs of Foster, from the turn of the century, record the long views over countryside cleared of forests. Trees served the need of early settlers for shelter, space to grow food, as well as timbers for King Charles. Today, much of the forest cleared for housing is cast into a chipper to mulch suburban landscapes.

The Foster Conservation Commission is currently helping the RI Tree Council find a Champion Tree. If you know of a special specimen, email a member of the Conservation Commission.The Tree Council also sponsors a Tree Steward Program.

The Foster Land Trust has worked quietly and effectively since 1990 to save both forests and meadow for our future. We’d like to publish a list of their properties for our readers.

Forests are a major asset in Foster, the State, the world---a topic for endless discussion---environmental, economic, and as poetic muse.

* “Trees” by Alfred Joyce Kilmer, 1913.

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