A second tree sculpture takes root along the city’s railroad | Local News

NEWBURYPORT — Among the many works of art lining the Clipper City Rail Trail is a bas-relief steel tree sculpture with leaves near Washington Street.

The leaves are the result of the Friends of Newburyport Trees Dedicate-a-Tree program which encourages residents and businesses to donate $650 to the non-profit organization. In addition to the metal sheet, the donation can result in the planting and maintenance of a tree in a city street.

In total, the campaign raised $40,000, with all funds going towards the protection, preservation and maintenance of the city’s trees.

With this sculpture recently filled to capacity with leaves, a similar sculpture has taken root next door. Both were the creation of local sculpture and wire artist Ryan Kelley, said Friends of Newburyport Trees president Cris Miller.

“I love recognition sculptures because they give people a permanent, prominent place to acknowledge an important person/company in their life. Whatever the reason… memorial, honor, congratulations, thank you, etc. The tree that accompanies the leaf helps the environment, beautifies Newburyport and helps improve the urban canopy,” Miller said.

Miller said that due to the increased cost of planting and maintaining a tree, a $750 donation is needed to secure a spot on the new sculpture. There are 55 sheets available and so far 10 have been added.

A typical new tree costs around $250 and it costs $200 to plant. Watering also costs more than $100 for the tree’s first two years in the ground, Miller said.

The area where the sculptures are located has attracted unwanted attention in recent weeks after 27 trees of varying sizes were felled over the train tracks in December.

The Parks Commission approved the removal of two trees so that additional space could be used for the sculptures. But instead of cutting down two trees, 25 more were felled in December. Within hours, the railroad abutments lost much of their privacy and were exposed to windier conditions.

City officials said they would plant 30 trees this fall at a cost of about $20,000 to recreate conditions there, but admitted it would take years for that to happen.

The all-volunteer FoNT was established in 2004 but lay dormant for several years before Miller joined. Its mission is to raise funds for the city’s Tree Commission. The group consists of three board members and about 10 volunteers, including an arborist, landscape architect and weed puller, according to Miller.

Miller said the Tree Commission returned the fundraising favor when it created the Newburyport Tree Guide, a catalog of all tree species in the town.

“It’s awesome, it blew my mind,” Miller said.

The catalog, presented by the Tree Commission, came about after FoNT completed a comprehensive inventory of the city’s trees about two years ago. This inspired the creation of the guide which, to date, is in its fifth edition.

Guides cost $20 each and are available at City Hall.

Dave Rogers is a reporter for the Daily News in Newburyport. Email him at: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.

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