By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Writer
(Jan. 18, 2023) Berlin has a vibrant downtown, historic architecture and a friendly atmosphere, but what it also has are some outstanding tree specimens.
One is the big magnolia on South Main Street and the bald cypress at the Burbage Funeral Home. The town is also home to the Dr. Mary Humphreys Arboretum on the property of the Calvin B. Taylor Museum, which was dedicated in 2022 because of its magnolias, silver, red and sugar maples, sycamores, scarlet oaks and tulip trees.
Even so, there is no organized effort to encourage the planting of native trees or the protection of the monumental trees around town, beyond the Humphrey’s Arboretum.
A tree ordinance and an open space commission could help the town promote native trees and consider protecting open spaces in and around town, according to Joan Maloof, a resident of Berlin and the founder of the Old Growth Forest Network. Maloof has authored five books on trees and is a professor emeritus at Salisbury University, where she taught environmental studies.
Maloof provided these suggestions at the Planning Commission meeting last week, during a discussion about the comprehensive plan for the town.
She cited numerous examples of regulations to protect trees, including those in Ocean Pines and said she wants to work with a committee to see what would work in Berlin.
Currently, the town has nothing on the books to prevent anyone from cutting down trees in town, including the most majestic ones. She said the biggest threats to these trees is if a property changes hands and a new owner does not want to care for a tree.
A tree ordinance does not need to be just punitive, she said. but could help to protect trees and encourage the planting of more trees in town. She contends that fines could be used to provide support and advice to residents with these significant trees.
Maloof also pushed for the creation of an open spaces committee that could look at a map to identify important green spaces left and consider how these can be preserved.
Some of this land could be outside of the town boundaries, which would require the committee to convince property owners to cooperate.
“Once you identify a parcel, the committee could work with the landowner through Program Open Space, easements or land trusts,” Maloof said.
“If you never identify the land, you never take the first steps.”
Heron Park provides some open space, but there is only a small strip of forest along the railroad tracks, according to Maloof.
Maloof said she hoped to hear from others who might be interested in being involved in developing a draft tree ordinance or engaging in an open space committee. Interested residents can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I love trees and I love this town,” Maloof said.