Fairfield loves its trees. We are, after all, designated a Tree City U.S.A. by the Arbor Day Foundation. There is a banner at Sherman Green to prove it. The town administration even established a Fairfield Forestry Committee to promote and safeguard the trees.

Fairfielders can get riled up about a lot of things. We've seen how anything to do with their kids' education will send them into a tailspin. Others have fought and petitioned against new developments in their neighborhoods. We have witnessed yearly arguments over budgets and taxes.

The trees are just one of the many facets of Fairfield that make it a beautiful place to live. Take a ride up Bronson and Redding roads in October and you will see fall's splendor. People come from miles around to soak up the local color in May for the annual Dogwood Festival. Fairfield is as famous for being home to the dogwood tree as it is for some of its celebrity residents.

So don't mess with the trees -- anywhere, anytime. History has shown just how irate residents can get when the trees are the object of destruction or potential destruction. Let's take a stroll down a tree-lined memory lane:

"¢ In 2002, the town administration and the Elementary School Building Committee were faced with how to save an old 70-foot red oak on the property of McKinley School that interfered with access to the new facility. The issue even was sent to court when the tree warden ruled that the tree could not be cut down to make way for the new driveway. A new design for the driveway had to be done.

"¢ In 2006, a small amur maple tree mysteriously disappeared from in front of Snappy Gator and La Moda on the Post Road. No one saw anything suspicious. There were no clues, no evidence. Just a stump. Downtown business owners and others were upset.

"¢ In 2007, 30 Hillcrest Road residents signed a petition to try to save six maple trees, one cherry tree and one locust tree from being removed during the Tomlinson Middle School tennis court reconstruction project.

"¢ In 2008, the Conservation Department violated protocol when it failed to notify the tree warden about cutting trees down in the Home Street/Holland Hill area to make way for a wetland. A miscommunication apparently was to blame for why the tree warden was unaware any tree cutting was planned.

"¢ In 2009, the clearing of trees along the Merritt Parkway between Congress Street in Fairfield and the Route 8 interchange in Trumbull sparked a debate between the state Department of Transportation and the Merritt Parkway Conservancy and other preservationists. In addition to saying that the complaints were exaggerated, a DOT official claimed the removal was necessary for the safety of the driving public and construction workers. Interesting, the tree removal debacle surfaced two months before the World Monuments Fund put the parkway on its list of endangered sites. A replanting project is expected to be completed by 2012.

"¢ In March 2010, the Fairfield University community was up in arms about tree clearing that took place on campus to make way for a new residential hall and an apartment complex. Professors and students decried that the tree removal would adversely affect the environment.

With the history in mind, it is inconceivable and unfathomable then that anyone would think cutting down trees for fun or sport is a good idea. But that seems to be the case in October when 10 trees were cut down by vandals at Lake Mohegan and High Wood Park. At the park, two of the trees, flowering pears, were planted in memory of a family's deceased daughter.

These are such callous and insensitive acts by a person or persons who have nothing better to do with their time and energy. When caught, they should be required to repay that family for the pain and anguish they undoubtedly caused.

These vandals left about $4,000 worth of destruction in their wake. The two long traffic islands at Lake Mohegan are now without tree cover, which helped to mitigate water runoff from the south side of the lot. In all of the incidents, a hand saw was used to make a deep cut, then the trees were pushed over. Why is this fun?

Tree Warden Ken Placko told the Fairfield Citizen after the first incident, "It's definitely malicious in nature and a lack of understanding and appreciation on how trees work and function and what they mean to other people."

The trees will be replanted. Until then and until this malevolence is solved, perhaps we can help. Contact the Fairfield Forestry Committee via www.fairfieldct.org/forestry.htm to see what you can do to educate yourself and others. We can't let the vandals win.

Patricia A. Hines can be reached at hinessight@hotmail.com. She also can be followed at http://blog.ctnews.com/hines