In the News

Tree walk opens at Atkinson Common

An announcement of the new addition to our town of Newburyport. One that will teach and bring generations closer to nature.
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NEWBURYPORT — Visitors curious to know just what kind of tree they’re looking at when walking through Atkinson Common no longer need to ask now that identifying markers have been placed throughout the popular park.

Local environmentalist and Parks Commission member Ted Boretti loves the wide variety of trees at Atkinson Common. But he was also aware that most people do not know all of the park’s species of trees and was looking for a way to come up with a system of signs.

Boretti said the idea was hatched after running into Art Currier, a member of the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards – or ACEs, a few years ago.

At that meeting, Currier suggested to Boretti that he could get some help with his endeavor by becoming a mentor for local high school students who want to help the environment.

Now that he had a plan, Boretti attended an ACES event and recruited four Newburyport High School students to help him create what is now being called the Atkinson Common Tree Walk.

“There had been a tree walk already piloted at the Indian Hill Reservoir over in West Newbury,” he said. “So we hoped to sort of replicate that program in Newburyport at Atkinson Common.”

Audrey Langley was one of the four NHS students, along with Emma Low, Claudia Cummings and Lyza Marino, who worked to research, design and deploy the new interpretive tree walk signs. Each sign provides in-depth facts on a tree’s ecology and its impact on society by way of QR codes that take visitors to a special ACES website.

Langley said she and her three friends have long been fans of the city’s trees, ever since climbing on many of them near the waterfront as young children.

“Trees kind of hold meaning for us and we wanted to get involved in the Newburyport community and its environment,” she said.

Port Signworks, a local company, was chosen to make the signs which, according to Boretti, cost only $560.

“I know there are some people who are venomously opposed to an abundance of signage in parks and in public places and we were trying to be very sensitive to that,” he said. “I think the kids did a great job of creating elegant, informative signs that were unobtrusive and aren’t really going to diminish a park user’s experience.”

Boretti said Atkinson Common was selected for its bucolic setting and variety of trees, 14 species of which have been identified and cataloged.

“Atkinson Common is considered the most arboretum- like of all of Newburyport’s parks,” he said. “You’ve got your red oak, your Eastern white pine, your Eastern hemlock but then it also has some more interesting species like the sycamore tree and the sourwood tree and the seven- son flower, which is actually a tree originating in east Asia.”

Langley and her friends were honored for their contributions during a special tree walk-through recognition ceremony at Atkinson Common on Wednesday afternoon.

“I’m so excited to see it come to fruition,” Langley said. “I’m excited to see my name on it and I’m excited to see Claudia, Lyza and Emma’s names. It has been this file on my computer for so long and it’s so cool.”

Boretti said his student volunteers did a fantastic job creating the tree walk.

“They came up with the design for the signage after meeting with the graphic designer. They did all the research. They were able to decide what kind of information is going on the sign and what kind of information is best reserved for the website,” he said. Langley, who is kicking off her college career at Northeastern University next week, said she was happy to leave a little piece of herself in her hometown.

“I love Newburyport and I’ve been here my whole life. So, for my name to be more permanent in one of the parks is meaningful to me, for sure,” she said.

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