The centennial tree project established as part of Upper Arlington's yearlong celebration of its 100th birthday turned out to be more successful than anticipated.

Correction: A caption in the print and earlier online version of this story incorrectly identified a tree on Marta Bergese's property on Woodbridge Road. The one in the photo is a pin oak, not a beech.

The centennial tree project established as part of Upper Arlington's yearlong celebration of its 100th birthday turned out to be more successful than anticipated.

Upper Arlington Parks and Forestry inventory specialist Matthew Stewart said 167 trees that are at least 100 years old now are included on the city's official registry, but 300 signs identifying centennial trees were placed throughout the city.

And project organizers still are trying to get a handle on exactly how many trees in Upper Arlington have reached the century mark -- or are even older.

"I do not have an exact number on the number of centennial trees that have been identified," Stewart said. "Nominations have continued to come in as recently as last week.

"Not all nominated trees were placed on the registry due to either missing the (registration) cutoff date or the participant not wanting their tree to be listed," he said.

Two of the identified centennial trees are on property owned by Marta Bergese and her husband, Sergio, at 3839 Woodbridge Road, where the family has lived for 23 years. One is a pin oak in the front yard estimated to be 140 years old, and the other is an American beech in the backyard estimated at 132 years old.

Bergese and her husband are natives of Argentina and said the communities they grew up in had a number of old trees. That's part of the reason they were attracted to the house on Woodbridge, which also features younger trees throughout the yard.

She said over the years, her family has sought to preserve the trees because they appreciate them, the shade they provide and the environmental benefits they offer to people and wildlife.

When she heard about the centennial tree project, Bergese said she did some research and thought her trees could be candidates for recognition.

"I did a few measurements, and I figured they were close," she said. "I love the recognition, but I also know we won't be in this house forever. By having this nomination, hopefully, it will encourage other owners to treat the oak and hopefully they won't be brought down."

Bergese said she hopes city officials will take note of her centennial trees and other trees in her neighborhood as they plan to install sidewalks, a project she said she also supports.

"These trees are old," she said. "They've been here way before us, and we should care for them."

Stewart said the Upper Arlington Tree Commission and the Parks and Forestry Division organized the centennial tree project as a way to identify trees that were present when Upper Arlington was founded in 1918, as well as to draw attention to the city's efforts to preserve and protect trees through the years.

"It was also a way to draw attention to Upper Arlington's tree canopy and standing as a Tree City USA," he said.

Tree commission member Anya Cara said the last time the city cataloged its oldest trees was in the 1970s, and commission members thought it was time to revisit the effort.

"People should know about them and be proud of our old canopies," Cara said. "It's also a way to encourage people to plant trees because these are our living witnesses to history. We need to have another round of plantings so these can be replaced when they're no longer viable."

The tree commission and the Parks and Forestry Division also worked with the Tri-Village and Upper Arlington Rotary clubs, which together raised more than $16,000 to plant a total of 100 trees in groves around 10 schools in Upper Arlington.

As for the centennial tree project, Parks and Forestry Division officials inspected each of the trees nominated and estimated their ages by measuring the diameter of the trees at breast height, approximately four and a half feet above ground. They then multiplied that number by a growth factor for various species.

Stewart said many of the community's oldest trees are located south of Lane Avenue, including the largest tree in the city -- an American sycamore at 2140 Cambridge Boulevard that had an 80-inch DBH measurement -- more than six and a half feet -- and possibly the oldest tree in town, a swamp white oak at 2448 Southway Drive that's more than 250 years old.

Both are in public rights of way, he said.

"There are also 200-plus-years-old oaks at Thompson Park and Westover Park," he said. "The official registry has names and/or addresses of willing participants. However, some residents did not wish to have their information listed.

"Approximate locations are listed as well, but no more specific than 'front yard, side yard, next to driveway, etc.,' " he said.

Cara said she was overwhelmed by the response the project received. Likewise, Stewart said the Parks and Forestry Division is pleased with the centennial tree project.

"Overall, in my opinion, the program was very successful in recognizing old trees within the city, as well as giving some publicity to the forestry program," he said. "Many residents were surprised at the number of old trees in the city, which is why interest picked up as more and more signs began popping up around the city.

"I personally saw that many residents grew a new appreciation for the tree canopy around the city that they had not noticed before."

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