While I was researching my red maple tree, Portland City Arborist Jeff Tarling sent me a series of Forestry Yearly Reports from 1900 to 1934. They make for surprisingly fascinating and entertaining reading. Enjoy these excerpts.

— PEGGY GRODINSKY

1902

We also remove many limbs which interfere with the draft of chimneys. Some of these complaints are real and some are fancied, but we try to please all. The labor, expense and maintenance of the trees of Portland has been enhanced by the annexation of the City of Deering to Portland. When they came under our control they were found in bad shape, owing to the indiscriminate way they had been trimmed by a certain electric light company, who showed no regard for the beauty of the tree, instead only thought being to get the wires through…

1903

The guarding of the trees is an item of large expense, and no little annoyance on account of the heedlessness of the drivers of horses. This is not confined to the boys who take orders for stores and markets, but many professional and business men persist in driving past a hitching-post to hitch to a tree a few feet away, and the guards and trees are mutilated and often destroyed by the gnawing of the horses. That the attractiveness and comfort of the City streets are largely enhanced by the shade trees, no one will deny, and it would seem that the public, generally, should take pride enough in them to see that they were not injured through their carelessness. There is ample law for the protection of the trees, and a vigorous application of it in a few cases, would doubtless have a most salutary effect, and prevent this needless injury and consequent expense.

1906

Brown Tail Moth: A vigorous effort was made in the early spring to stay the devastating work of this insect pest. A systematic examination was made of the city, taking sections, street by street, and examining the back yards of the abutters. Many trees were found to be infested and the abutters notified and urged to have the nests destroyed. In most cases a hasty cooperation was met with and efforts made to destroy the nests: in other cases, a feeling of indifference was shown and rather than allow the moths to hatch and destroy the trees that were not taken care of by their owners, the Commissioners had the nests removed by their own men…

1907

Portland has been justly called the Forest City, but when you hear this report you will wonder how many years longer it can pose as the Forest City, for unless something is done to replace the old trees that have to be removed each year, some of our streets, especially in the western part of our city, will be about treeless, and I think the child born 50 years hence will wonder why Portland was ever called the Forest City.

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