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Governor Baldacci Honors Long-time “Herbie” Guardian Frank Knight of Yarmouth
May 17, 2010
AUGUSTA, Maine - Gov. John E. Baldacci on Monday honored the guardian of "Herbie," the famous, old elm tree in Yarmouth, by dedicating a statewide community-forestry award in his name.
Frank Knight, 101, the former Yarmouth tree warden who worked for 50 years to preserve the 217-year-old tree, received a standing ovation as Gov. Baldacci announced the dedication during the 2010 Arbor Week celebration and award ceremony held at the Maine State Museum atrium.
Saying he was "overwhelmed" by the honor, Knight said, "I never knew Herbie would attract quite that much attention," accepting a certificate from the governor as the audience applauded him.
During his remarks, Gov. Baldacci stressed the importance of good, sustainable management to maintain and benefit Maine's forests. He noted that Maine is the most forested state in the U.S., with almost 18 million acres of trees and forests that produce about 500 different products and directly create 20,000 jobs.
"Maine's identity is inseparable from its natural resources, and our future economic prosperity depends upon our ability to distinguish what makes Maine so special," the governor emphasized.
Gov. Baldacci, who also was given a unique pen made of "Herbie" wood, presented the 2010 Frank Knight Excellence in Community Forestry Award to Debra Hopkins, the current Yarmouth tree warden, for her work in preserving the Herbie legacy and developing the "Herbie Project" tree trust.
The governor also presented the National Arbor Day Foundation Poster Contest Prize to John Lane, 11, of Yarmouth, a fifth-grader at the Harrison Middle School, who was joined by his family and class for the ceremony. The theme for the poster was "Trees are Terrific...energy wise!"
In addition, 17 communities were honored with the 2009 Tree City USA Awards, which recognizes municipalities in Maine and nationwide for working to promote community tree care.
The annual event is sponsored by Project Canopy, Maine’s community forestry program for municipalities and non-profit organizations, under the Maine Forest Service and the Maine Department of Conservation.
In her welcome remarks, MDOC Commissioner Eliza Townsend pointed out what trees can do for all people "close to home." In addition to their environmental benefits, trees "soften the hard edge of the human environment," the commissioner said. "Our own experience tells us that the places we’d rather spend time are the places with trees, while the ones we'd rather hurry through are the ones without."
Commissioner Townsend noted that Project Canopy, as a partnership between the Maine Forest service and the Viles Arboretum in Augusta, is helping Maine cities and towns develop long-term forestry programs and maximize the benefits trees and forests provide.
"The trees in our local communities, whether on the street or part of a park or trail, are the most basic starting point," she said.
Alec Giffen, Maine Forest Service director, welcomed those present and reviewed the history of Arbor Day, which was started in 1872.
"Trees have been very important to Maine historically," Giffen said, adding that they are "no less important to us now" as the "backbone of the state economy."
The following communities were honored with the 2009 Tree City USA Awards:
Auburn - 7 years
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