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Amherst’s Alan Snow named state’s top tree warden

CAROL LOLLIS
Alan Snow looks over a young tree that was damaged in the storms.

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

Amherst’s tree warden, who has spent the past year working to restore the town’s tree canopy, maintain the existing street trees and professionalize the oversight of the urban forest, has earned state recognition.

Alan Snow, director of trees and grounds for Amherst’s Department of Public Works, last 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 for 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.”

Those who work closely with Snow say 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 last week’s award ceremony in Sturbridge, said Snow’s planting plan calls for an inventory of shade trees to be conducted by interns from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture. It also establishes 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 means the town’s efforts are attracting notice. “It’s a big plus,” he said. “We don’t get recognized by the state for doing things.”

Snow said he was shocked and humbled by the award. “To be recognized by this organization is quite a feat,” he 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. He also continued working as a community-action forester with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, helping communities identify funding opportunities and ways to improve green spaces.

“We try to make it so trees can survive along with all the infrastructure we want to have,” Snow said. Such infrastructure, he said, includes water lines, sewer lines, fiber-optic 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, he became a full-time employee of the town. His role now encompasses caring for all green spaces in Amherst, including parks, commons and cemeteries.

Snow’s former colleague Eric Seaborn, coordinator of DCR’s urban and community forestry program, said the nominations for Snow as tree warden of the year noted a number of his accomplishments: working 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 chain saw safety seminar.

Crolius said Snow is respectful and attentive in his dealings with Shade Tree Committee volunteers. She said his involvement spurred Town Meeting to go forward with the plan to plant 2,000 trees.

“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 credited Mooring and other DPW employees, members of the Shade Tree Committee, the Information Technology Department and Town Meeting representatives and other elected officials with the progress the town has made in its commitment to green spaces.

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

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