BEDFORD, N.Y. - History, in the form of one beautiful old tree, is being preserved with modern DNA technology for future Bedford residents to enjoy.
Bedford Supervisor Lee Roberts, the Town Board and the town's Tree Advisory Board have invited the public to celebrate the planting of two baby sycamores at the historic Bedford Oak site on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 9:30 a.m.
The seedlings were propagated from the sycamore tree in front of the Bedford Village Library, the remaining of two sycamores that had stood there for hundreds of years.
In August 2008, after painstaking examination by tree experts and members of the Bedford Historical Society, it was concluded that the tree was rotted at the base and posed a hazard to the library building and passing cars and pedestrians.
“Unfortunately, that was the end of its life in that spot,” said Tree Advisory Board chair, arborist Mike Serio.
Out of approximately three hundred cuttings taken and propagated at the time the tree was removed, two survived. These seedlings were grown for two years under the care of Wayne Cahilly, owner of Cahilly’s Horticultural Services and site historian at The New York Botanical Garden.
“There are only certain areas that have these great big old trees that date back several hundred years,” Serio said, and if there is ever any way to procure an original DNA sample and keep the line going, it should be done, he added.
The preservation effort was the brainchild of Bedford resident Sharon Kennedy-Nolle, one of Serio’s clients.
“It is my great hope that these two ‘Witness Trees’ will be enjoyed and treasured by Bedford residents for centuries,” said Kennedy-Nolle in a statement.
Preserving these stalwart reminders of an age gone by is important, said Serio, because of what went on underneath the spread of their branches: the development of an entire town over hundreds of years.
Looking at the great historic Bedford Oak that will stand in guard of the seedlings at the site on Route 22, Serio said he hopes it will be around for many more years to come. The board is looking into procuring clippings from this landmark tree as well, he said.
Trees play a big part in the life of the town, Serio said. Bedford has been designated a Tree City USA by the National Arborists Association, in part because of the works of the Tree Advisory Board, which plants memorial trees, advises residents on planting and caring for their own trees, and oversees the planting of a new tree every Arbor Day.