The town of Camden was well represented when it was recognized for its annual Tree City USA designation, along with officials from 19 other Maine cities and towns, at the state Arbor Week Celebration held May 20 at the Camden Public Library.

When it was Camden's turn to receive its award, Nancy Caudle-Johnson called to the podium "an impressive group," whom she noted have made considerable contributions to Camden's tree program.

The group accepting the award included Roger Moody, who was town manager for 11 years, including in 1995, when Camden became a Tree City USA; current Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell, Select Board Chairman Bob Falciani, and board members Taylor Benzie, Jenna Lookner, Alison McKellar and Marc Ratner, "who support the tree program by adopting and supporting policies that preserve and protect our trees;" Camden Library Director Nikki Maounis, who budgets to maintain Harbor Park and the Amphitheater, including the historic trees on the grounds; Library Parks Director Dave Jackson, who "knows every tree by name and who personally undertakes the daily watering of the young trees; Nancy's husband, Douglas, who was Camden Conservation Commission chairman or vice chairman for many of his 24 years with the commission; longtime Historic Resources Committee member Beede Parker, who has an extensive history planting and preserving trees in Camden, and Camden Garden Club officials Karen Cease, co-chairperson, and Priscilla Granston, the club's Tree Committee chairperson, who represented the club's long history of planting trees.

Caudle-Johnson also recognized others who could not attend, including Bart Wood, tree warden for 25 years, and the CCC chairman who initiated Camden's street tree ordinance, and conducted and oversaw a three-year effort to inventory the town's street trees. She also noted the gift of Mary Louise Curtis Zimbalist Bok, who secured the properties and hired Fletcher Steel to design the Amphitheater and the Olmstead brothers to design Harbor Park. She said these parks were "responsible for attracting more people to Camden than anything else. People can come here, park and walk through those two parks and look at the beautiful view of the harbor, which is what people think of when they come to Camden."

Lastly, she thanked the "unsung heros “Trees need people. They need people just like children need adults to help raise them," she said. "They can't do it on their own. We need to look after them, and for everyone who has loved and cared for a special tree, thank you.”

Earlier in the program, Nancy Caudle-Johnson and Douglas Johnson were presented the 2019 Frank Knight Excellence in Community Forestry Award by Jan Ames Santerre, director of Project Canopy, Maine's community forestry program. Santerre recognized the couple's 25 years of community and professional work. Caudle-Johnson worked with the CCC and Wood to achieve the requirements to become a Tree City USA, and since that time has served as a member of the CCC and as Camden's Tree City USA coordinator. Together the couple own the arboriculture company TREEKEEPERS LLC devoted to tree protection and preservation. Doug is a Maine licensed arborist and is certified by the International Society of Arboriculture, a skilled climber and has excelled at his chosen profession, Santerre said. "Countless trees from Mount Desert Island to Boothbay and the offshore islands stand and thrive as a testament to his skills."

In accepting the award, Doug said it belongs to Nancy, who “does all the work with Tree City USA. He added, “Listen to trees and speak for trees. As Dr. Seuss let us know, you can be that Lorax who speaks for the trees. If you haven't read "The Hidden Life of Trees," that is a good place to start.”

The event opened with remarks by Amanda Beal, commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, who attended and read Maine's Arbor Week proclamation on behalf of Gov. Janet Mills.

Beal spoke to the representatives of many of Maine's 20 Tree City USA cities and towns, thanking them for their "environmental stewardship, and leadership in your communities, for keeping cities and towns beautiful and preserving Maine's tree canopy.

"As I travel throughout this great state, I'm constantly in awe of its beauty," Beal said. "It never gets old. Healthy trees in our rural, suburban and urban areas protect us by removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon and releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere, our life support system, as we all know. This all in addition to other benefits, from attracting birds and wildlife to cleaning our water, and being part of our magnificent landscape."

Beal quoted her friend, Nancy Harmon-Jenkins, of Camden, who once told her, “We plant gardens for today for us, and trees for the next generations," and said she she now thinks about this in planting trees on her farm in Warren.

"Thank you for all your hard work in caring for our trees, an important asset that will benefit Maine for all generations to come."