Planting the swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) they’ve named the “Generation Oak,” the Town of Bedford celebrates the legacy that tree planting leaves for future generations, and gives a delightful nod to Star Trek Next Generation.

Town of Bedford Conservation Board Chair Simon Skolnik said, “A healthy swamp white oak can live for up to 300 years. That puts its old age into the 24th Century. To put that into context, that will be the century that Star Trek’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard takes the Starship Enterprise ‘Where no one has gone before.’ That expression, ‘where no one has gone before’ is a perfect segue into why we are calling this swamp white oak the ‘Generation Oak.’ Our generation, the adults standing here today, have planted it. We will nurture it. Water it. Watch out for any disease, and will prune and treat it. If it is to grow and flourish, it will need the help and care of the generations represented today by our children and our grandchildren, and then their children and their grandchildren, and then their children and grandchildren.”

The Town of Bedford in Westchester County was awarded a tree grant on September 23, 2020, from the New York State Urban Forestry Council under our program to celebrate those communities that have been a Tree City USA for at least 5 years, and to support their on-going community street tree and forestry programs.

Bedford has been a Tree City USA for 18 years. Bedford used the grant amount of $1,000 to plant a large specimen tree in a prominent site within the community, accessible to the public. Bedford chose to plant a native swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) in front of the Town Hall, at 321 Bedford Road in Bedford Hills.

A ceremony took place on Wednesday, October 21st at 10 AM in front of the Town Hall. Students from the nearby Bedford Hills Elementary School have been invited to attend as a way of expressing the town’s vision of connecting generations to the incredible value that trees provide our environment.

Town of Bedford Conservation Board Chair Simon Skolnik acknowledged the following folks:

Representing the NYS Urban Forestry Council at today’s ceremony is Jean Zimmerman, a member of the NYSUFC grant committee. Jean is an ISA-certified arborist who is employed by our good friend and local neighbor, SavATree.  Thank you, NYSUFC!

I also want to acknowledge George Profous, senior forester for Region 3 of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, who when asked for a quick email note acknowledging and approving Bedford’s choice of tree and planting location, an important pre-requisite for getting this award, instead sent us an essay-length reply. George, whatever Bedford  brought to the application, your support greatly helped. Thank you, George.

I want to especially acknowledge the group of town boards, committees and departments that listened to me pitch this grant application, with an incredibly  short due date, all to be put together in the middle of COVID, and instead of throwing up their hands, and saying “Simon, are you…!” instead they said “Let’s do it!” Of course, our Town Board and Supervisor Chris Burdick have always supported good tree management in Bedford, and for that we thank you.

I thank the Conservation Board (of which I’m the chair), the Tree Advisory Board (Jeff Carpenter, chair), the Tree Planting Committee (Heather Langham, chair), and the Recreation and Parks Dept, the Department of Public Works, and the Building Department. Thank you all.