West Tisbury approves development of tree committee

Howes House article amended ahead of town meeting.

Trees adjacent to Field Gallery & Sculpture Garden are hazards to the wires. — Eunki Seonwoo

The West Tisbury select board unanimously approved the formation of a tree advisory committee during a Zoom meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 9. The issue of replacing dangerous trees in West Tisbury was brought up in October. 

Tim Boland, who is helping to establish the committee and is the executive director of Polly Hill Arboretum, said many trees have fallen in West Tisbury, including at the arboretum since he discussed the matter with the town. 

“The town has, what we call, a kind of similar age group of trees that are about 60 to 70 years old,” Boland said. “With some recent plantings though, [with] several at the library: new maples. But, there’s certainly more opportunities for new trees to be planted.” 

The person Boland had primarily been in contact with was West Tisbury tree warden Jeremiah Brown, who often makes “the hard call” about the town’s trees. 

“What I ended up saying to him in talking about this is a forming a kind of ‘tree council,’” Boland said with a chuckle because he thought that name sounded like it came from Middle-Earth.

Brown would be a part of this committee. According to an email, there are several more people who want to be a part of the committee who were in touch with Boland: Oliver Ossnoss from the arboretum, West Tisbury residents Angela Luckey, Jevon Rego and David Fielder, and Oak Bluffs arborist JT Hunt. Boland, who would also be on the panel, said this committee would not be a regulatory body. 

“Maybe a tree advisory committee might be a good [name],” West Tisbury select board chair Skipper Manter suggested. “I like your enthusiasm for this program.” 

However, Manter was concerned about the size of the committee since seven or eight people would not be considered small. Select board member Cynthia Mitchell pointed out that when the Mill Brook committee was founded, it was also a fairly large committee. 

“People have a passion for trees,” Mitchell said. “It can work.” 

A document showing the short term (one-to-three year) goals of the committee listed the following: advising about planting, developing a map of the town’s trees, assessing tree health with the tree warden, to offer informal classes about trees at the West Tisbury Library, and obtaining grants for a “long-range tree care program.” 

Boland will be the temporary chair of the committee until the first meeting. 

In other business, the board unanimously approved Howes House feasibility study committee’s change to its warrant article. The change was to reduce its budget by $100,000 from the planned $523,000 to renovate Howes House. Manter said he is also a part of this committee, but “there’s nothing personal involved here.” 

The board also plans to ask town counsel Ron Rappaport his opinion about the final housing bank legislation.



  1. Such great news! Way to go WT! Katama should do the same. The con comm continues to approve the clear cutting of densely forested land (aka significant ‘site grading’) for pools, pool houses and asphalt driveways with NO pushback whatsoever.

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