There's a new tree planted in the shadow of Bedford's symbolic oak, with tender branches and delicate leaves, ready to take a page in town history books.
The tree was planted as part of an Arbor Day Celebration on Monday, during which the town of Bedford was presented with the Tree City Designation, which recognizes the town's care and protection of its trees.
As guests gathered in the thicket between the two trees, Tree Advisory Board Chairman Mike Serio and Lou Sebesta, an Urban Forester from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, inspected the old white oak, believed to be somewhere between 400 and 500 years old.
The health of the Bedford Oak is monitored regularly. A lightning protection system was installed to direct current away from the tree, copper cables were attached to support its massive breadth, some 130 feet, and soil samples are frequently taken.
It is the close monitoring of this oak, and other town trees, that earned Bedford its Tree City Designation for the tenth year in a row.
The brief ceremony included a reading of the Arbor Day proclamation by Town Supervisor Lee Roberts, a ceremonial "planting" of the new tree, and remarks presented by Sebesta on the significance of the town's decade-long commitment to caring for trees. The distinction is awarded to communities that have met a set of criteria including having a tree advisory board, a tree care ordinance, an active urban forestry program and an arbor day proclamation and observation.
"Your tree progam shows your dedication to the community," said Sebesta. "The roots of these trees will intertwine and link together, nurturing and benefiting each other. It's symbolic of the ecological benefits they provide to the community, and testimony to this town's care of trees," he said.
Other ceremony-watchers included Lynn Ryan, Executive Director of the Bedford Historical Society, Bedford Bee owner DJ Haverkamp, who arrived on horseback, Sonja Lovas and Tree Advisory Board members Jeff Carpenter and Bea Rhodes, who also serves as the board's secretary.
Rhodes said that the allure of trees brought her to the board.
"I wanted to be a part of it—I love trees and wanted to learn about the planting and preservation of them," she said. "Mike [Serio] is an incredible resource for this town," she said.
Serio, who owns a landscaping company, along with members of the six-member board, volunteers about 125 hours a year for the town. They interface with other town boards such as planning and wetlands, and with individual homeowners who have questions about their trees.
Though the new oak was actually planted last week, town officials gathered around the tree, posing with glinting ceremonial shovels, to commemorate the occasion.