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  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    McGuinness Tree Service chews up a large pine tree taken down at Benson Park in Hudson Friday, April 27, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Crista Gagnon, volunteer coordinator for Benson Park, works on an adopt-a-site spot at the park Friday, April 27, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Jonathan Maltz works on his adopt-a-spot site at Benson Park in Hudson Friday, April 27, 2012.
Saturday, April 28, 2012

Getting rid of big, dying trees at Benson Park to mark Arbor Day

HUDSON – Celebrating Arbor Day by taking down large mature trees and chopping them up sounds a little odd, but at Benson Park it makes perfect sense.

“They can come in and get rid of the … dead trees, diseased trees that we can’t handle,” said Crista Gagnon, volunteer coordinator for the Benson Park Committee, as she watched massive machinery from McGuinness Tree Service turn a 70-foot-tall pine into a truckload of wood chips.

This was the second year that McGuinness, which recently moved into new offices and a new storage yard along Amherst Street in Nashua, has done Arbor Day volunteer work at the former Benson’s Wild Animal Farm.

The obvious thing for a tree service company to do on Arbor Day is plant some trees, but a company that owns huge ladder trucks that cost six figures and massive chippers that can handle a 9,000-pound tree at one go has other options.

“Our company has been built on services like this, doing difficult removals,” said Michael LaClair, marketing manager for McGuinness.

Because the property was largely neglected for 20 years, the company said, many older trees were choked with vines and have fallen into decline, which is not only ugly but can pose a safety hazard as the town tries to draw more people to Benson Park.

The McGuinness employees on site Friday were all volunteering their time, said LaClair.

They included Kevin Kazmirchuk, who remembers visits to the park in its heyday.

“My father used to take us here,” said Kazmirchuk, taking a break from feeding the Typhoon chipper.

He recalled a hollow redwood log that you could walk inside, Colossus the gorilla and, of course, the Old Woman in the Shoe house that has been refurbished.

“Being here really brings back some memories,” he said.

Removing trees isn’t the only work that was taking place on Arbor Day.

Volunteers from the park committee were working in several locations Friday, sprucing up areas as part of the Adopt-a-Spot program, adding plantings, and getting the park ready for its busy season.

Next week, as of May 1, the park enters summer hours, staying open until 9 p.m. It opens at 5 a.m., all year round.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or