Tag Archives: Monica Buesser

Tree Board Sheds Members

Five years ago, Monica Buesser’s husband got a job in Norwalk.

They bought a home in Westport for the usual reasons: lower taxes than surrounding towns, excellent services, beaches, marinas and summer entertainment.

During their 20 years in New Jersey, Monica — who is a master gardener, and earned a master’s degree in biology — had served on the Ridgewood Tree Commission. She wondered if there was something similar here.

Her first week in town, she heard about a tree giveaway at the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum, near her new home. She walked over, met members of the Westport Tree Board, and — without knowing quite what it did — offered to help.

Chair Dick Fincher and tree warden Bruce Lindsay were happy to have her. Monica interviewed with then-2nd Selectwoman Jen Tooker, and joined the group.

When Fincher resigned as chair in 2021, Monica took over. She continued the work he had begun, earning certification as a “Tree City USA” from the Arbor Day Foundation.

Westport Tree Board member Monica Buesser (left) and Lynne Perrgo celebrate the town’s “Tree City USA designation in October 2021.

Twice a year the Tree Board hands out trees, at places like Town Hall and Jesup Green. They’ve organized “Oaktober” celebrations, and worked with the Wadsworth Arboretum to upgrade its visibility and educational offerings.

Monica has not accomplished all that she wanted. A tree planting program similar to one in Ridgewood is still not off the ground.

The Tree Board’s role, Monica says, is to “support the tree warden, and educate the public about trees and the community.”

Westport Tree Board sapling giveaway.

But working with the town’s bureaucracy can be frustrating. Pages of informational content created by Tree Board member Jim Corley is not yet available on the town website.

A link to report problem trees using photos and GPS coordinates — similar to a link on Fairfield’s website — is also not yet live.

Part of the problem, Monica says, is that Westport’s tree warden is not a full-time employee. In addition, he only handles “street trees” — not those at schools and parks, or on private roads.

Buesser and her husband are moving soon, to be closer to 2 children in Washington, DC. (A third is in Utah.)

Her departure — coupled with the Tree Board resignations of Jim Corley and Alice Ely — means there will be 3 vacancies.

She is excited by the passion and knowledge of members like Dick Stein (“he knows every house, every person and every tree,” she says), and Frank Rosen (the News12 videographer helped produce a feature on oak trees; a new one, on sycamores, is in the works).

The Tree Board is important, she says. As Eversource pursues a controversial vegetation management plan — which included cutting trees 100 feet away from utility lines in Redding — the town will need to be vigilant, she warns.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Tree Board — including how to serve — should email treewarden@westportct.gov.

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Free Trees!

Most “06880” tree stories involve cutting them down.

This one is about planting more.

Westport’s Tree Board is gearing up for Arbor Day with 3 days of free giveaways.

Bartlett Tree Experts is providing 100 red maples and 100 smaller native variety trees. They’re small enough to carry away yourself. After you plant them, they’ll grow large.

The red maples being given away are smaller than these.

Some of the trees will be given away on April 23, as part of the Westport Book Shop’s Jesup Green event.

On Arbor Day itself — April 29 — the trees will be offered at Town Hall.

The next day (April 30), the Tree Board partners with Earthplace. Following the 3-4 p.m. giveaway, there’s a “Toast to the Trees” educational talk.

But that’s just part of the Tree Board’s work.

At last week’s meeting, chair Monica Buesser says, they discussed a “tree inventory.” The survey of every tree on town property (parks, schools, rights of way, etc. — not private land) would allow warden Ben Sykas to figure out where trees should be removed and new ones planted, and the best maintenance schedule, among other information.

An inventory would also provide a record for possible reimbursement, when trees are destroyed in a natural disaster.

The computerized list would be updatable, and searchable. The Public Works Department is looking a different vendors, and costs.

Also in the works: updating the Tree Board’s webpage with more resources, and information on planting, mulching and more; creating a “Be a Tree” story walk at the Wadsworth Arboretum; planting red maple hybrids at Grace Salmon Park, and a “Mayple” spring event to complement “Oaktober” in the fall.

A 2019 storm downed trees at Grace Salmon Park. The Tree Board hopes to replace them. (Photo/Wendy Cusick)


Westport is now officially “Tree City USA.”

Earlier today, Tree Board chair Monica Buesser and Westport Library children’s librarian Lynne Perrigo raised a “Tree City USA” flag on Jesup Green.

The designation — by the Arbor Day Foundation —  gives Westport the chance to apply for tree grants, and participate in educational forums sponsored by the Foundation.

Monica Buesser and Lynne Perrigo hold the Tree City flag. (Photo/Frank Rosen)


On a recent Zoom forum, Buesser learned about “Oaktober” events. There’s a Wakeman Town Farm panel this Monday (October 4, 7 p.m.), on tree care. Attendees will learn about all the good that trees do in our yards, and how to return the favor in caring for them. Free saplings are available too. Click here for details.

In addition, the Tree Board, Earthplace and Westport Book Shop are partnering with the Library for one on Saturday, October 23. It includes crafts, guest animals, and Halloween fun (come in costume!). Free baby oaks will be available to take home. Click here for details.

“Oaks are very important for our environment,” Buesser says. “They support over 450 types of caterpillars, which birds need. Acorns feed everything from squirrels to deer.”

One more Tree Board bit of news: They’re looking for another member. To learn more, email mkbuesser@gmail.com.