CAMDEN — Maine’s Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry will celebrate the state’s annual Arbor Day at the Camden Amphitheater on May 20, and during the ceremony, Camden resident Nancy Caudle-Johnson will recognize several Camden citizens representative of the town’s own tree stewardship efforts.
Camden will host the celebration and Tree City USA awards, as Camden celebrates its 25th Arbor Day and enters its 25th year as a Tree City USA.
The festivities will take place at the Camden Amphitheater Monday, May 20, beginning at 1 p.m.
The amphitheater is a National Historic Landmark. In case of rain, the ceremony will take place inside the Camden Public Library.
Project Canopy Director Jan Ames Santerre will present the Tree City USA awards to Maine’s 18 qualifying municipalities. Gov. Janet Mills has been invited to present this year’s Frank Knight Excellence in Community Forestry Award, as well.
May 20 is Camden’s official Arbor Day, proclaimed by the Camden Select Board.
“I’m delight that Project Canopy chose Camden for this year’s celebration,” said Caudle-Johnson, in a news release. “The beautiful Camden Amphitheater, with its wonderful trees, is the perfect location and we are grateful to the Camden Public Library for offering it. It presents a unique opportunity to share our treasured trees capes with people from across Maine.”
In recognition of the event, Maine is donating a tree to Camden, a Prairie Dream paper birch to be planted in the amphitheater. Treekeepers LLC, of Camden, is donating the planting.
Following the program, Library Parks Director Dave Jackson and Arborist Douglas Johnson will lead a guided tour of the library parks, pointing out historic details and unique trees,
The terraced amphitheater was designed by landscape architect Fletcher Steele, while the adjacent Harbor Park and Camden Library grounds were designed by Olmsted Brothers.
Camden benefactor Mary Lousie Curtis Zimbalist Bok purchased the properties, hired the architects, and gifted the work to the town.
The landscapes were constructed in the 1930s with local labor and planted with full-grown trees transported from the local countryside by ox cart.
Timing of Arbor Day varies across the world, according to the planting season.
Maine’s official Arbore Week is celebrated the third full week in May. During the same week, Maine communities that qualify for Tree City USA hold Arbor Day celebrations.
Tree City USA flags will fly over the Camden town office, on the Village Free, and in Harbor Park from May 19–26, in recognition of Maine’s Arbor Week. Tree City USA signs are posted on Route 1 at the north and south entries to the Village, and a walnut plaque in the town office displays each year’s award.
Tree City USA program was established by the Arbor Day Foundation in 1976, and is administered in cooperation with Maine’s Project Canopy.
To qualify, a municipality must adopt a tree ordinance, establish a tree board, expend at least two dollars per capita on its tree program, and proclaim and celebrate Arbor Day. Annual recertification is required.
The Camden Conservation Commission serves as Camden’s Tree Board.
Nancy Caudle-Johnson initiated Camden’s Tree City USA program in 1994 at the suggestion of David Spicer, then director of the state’s Community Forestry Program, since branded Project Canopy.
She, with her husband, Doug Johnson, has organized the Arbor Day programs and prepared the Tree City recertifications since 1995.
In May 1995, Camden celebrated its first official Arbor Day, marked by the planting of two Gallery pears on Washington Street, opposite the town office, the first of approximately 240 street trees financed by a grant from MBNA bank and planted through the Village.
Participating then were David Spicer, Camden Garden Club members Elinor Klivans and Beedy Parker, Camden Conservation Commission members Doug Johnson, Karin Rector and Bart Wood, then Camden’s Tree Warden, as well as Caudle-Johnson.
In 1996, Camden was name a Tree City USA for 1995, becoming the eight Maine municipality to qualify, and Camden’s Arbor Day was celebrated at the Camden Amphitheater where Camden resident and naturalist Beedy Parker was honored for her decades of advocating for street trees in Camden, including replanting disease-resistant American Elms.