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Amherst tree warden Alan Snow gets state honor

Alan Snow looks with  a  tree that was damaged in the storms.

CAROL LOLLIS Alan Snow looks with a tree that was damaged in the storms. Purchase photo reprints »

Alan Snow, director of trees and grounds for Amherst’s Department of Public Works, this week was named tree warden of the year by the Massachusetts Tree Wardens & Foresters Association.

Town Manager John Musante said the award honors Snow for his care of the town’s trees and undertaking a three-year, $612,000 plan to plant 2,000 new trees.

“What a valuable addition to the Amherst team Alan has been,” Musante said. “He has certainly brought his talents to town service.”

For those who work closely with Snow, the award is well deserved.

Shade Tree Committee Chairwoman Hope Crolius said Snow is regarded as a leader among his fellow arborists and has an unmatched depth of knowledge. “In my time on the Shade Tree Committee, it began to dawn on me that we were working with one of the best,” Crolius said.

DPW Superintendent Guilford Mooring, who attended Tuesday’s award ceremony in Sturbridge, said Snow has done a lot of work for the town, including developing the planting plan, which will include having two Stockbridge School of Agriculture interns inventorying shade trees and establishing a tree steward program in which community volunteers can learn the ins and outs of planting trees and ensuring their long-term health.

Mooring said the award also means the town is being noticed by outside observers. “It’s a big plus,” Mooring said. “We don’t get recognized by the state for doing things.”

Snow said he was shocked and humbled. “To be recognized by this organization is quite a feat,” Snow said. “These are some of the best communities around. To have them think I do a good job means a lot.”

Snow became the town’s tree warden in 2007, succeeding Stanley Ziomek in the role, while continuing professionally as a community action forester with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation. In the state role, Snow helped communities to identify funding opportunities and means of improving green spaces within the increasingly built-up environment.

“We try to make it so trees can survive along with all the infrastructure we want to have,” Snow said.

This means maintaining healthy, mature trees, as cities and towns confront threats posed by development, including water lines, sewer lines, fiberoptic cables and driveway curb cuts.

Snow was also instrumental in Asian longhorn beetle mitigation and the replacement of 15,000 trees affected by the pest in Worcester.

In July 2011, Musante chose Snow to be a full-time Amherst employee, which allowed Snow to expand his role to caring for all the green spaces in town, including the parks, commons and cemeteries.

Snow’s former colleague Eric Seaborn, coordinator for DCR’s urban and community forestry program, said the nominations for Snow to earn the tree-warden-of-the-year title included his work on the town’s annual Sustainability Festival, speaking with state highway officials about road projects impacting trees, assisting the University of Massachusetts in moving toward Tree Campus USA status and promoting a chainsaw safety seminar.

Besides Snow being respectful and listening to committee volunteers, Crolius said that Town Meeting was able to go forward with the 2,000-tree planting plan in large part because of the confidence Musante and Mooring had in Snow.

“Because of his steady and visionary approach to cultivating the urban forest, he’s won respect of people at Town Hall and the superintendent of public works,” Crolius said.

Snow agreed with Mooring that the award reflects well on the town and those who make his job easier, including Mooring and other DPW employees, members of the Shade Tree Committee, the Information Technology department and Town Meeting representatives and other elected officials.

“These are the people who make it happen,” Snow said.

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