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Herbie's days are numbered, but Yarmouth hopes to preserve his legacy

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Herbie's days are numbered, but Yarmouth hopes to preserve his legacy

YARMOUTH — The tree affectionately known as Herbie – a 240-year-old, 110-foot American elm at the corner of Yankee Drive and East Main Street – will be removed on Jan. 18.

But Herbie's admirers hope to raise enough money to keep pieces of him around for years to come.

Debbie Hopkins, the town's tree warden, said Herbie has Dutch Elm disease, a fungus spread by bark beetles. If Herbie is not removed soon, the disease could spread to other trees and Herbie will die.

Removal is estimated to cost nearly $7,000. To have Herbie milled and kiln-dried would cost up to $14,000 Hopkins said.

"We are trying to raise about $20,000 for the costs," Hopkins said. "Then the wood can be used to create crafts and products."

The wood salvaged from Herbie will be used by local woodworkers to make bowls, cutting boards and other wooden items. Next year, she said, there will be an auction of the items at the DeLorme Map Store on Route 1.

But there will be items created from Herbie's wood available for the general public before then, too. Part of the money will go to the wood workers, and a percentage will help fund the newly created Tree Trust.

The Tree Trust was created to honor the legacy of Herbie and will add more trees in Yarmouth that are disease resistant. Since nearly 800 trees have been lost to the disease over the past 50 years, Hopkins said it is important to replace those that have died.

The benefits of lining the streets with trees justify the expense that can be associated with buying and caring for them, she said. Trees improve property values, remove air and water pollution, and provide food and shelter for wildlife.

Hopkins said donations from residents and businesses are welcome, and will help fund the tree removal, replacement, and Yarmouth Tree Trust.

"To me, no donation is too little," she said. "It all goes to help Herbie and to make sure there will be trees in the future."

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net