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'CAT Scanner' for Trees at CT Tree Festival in Norwalk May 17

The Connecticut Tree Festival in Cranbury Park May 17 is a spend-free, family-oriented day of entertainment and education, dedicated to advancing the place trees occupy in the vitality of the ecology.

Dr. Robert Marra takes readings on the health of a tree without penetrating the trunk, using non-destructive technology called tomography.
Dr. Robert Marra takes readings on the health of a tree without penetrating the trunk, using non-destructive technology called tomography.
The Connecticut Tree Festival in Cranbury Park May 17 is bringing Bob Marra back to Norwalk as an expert in plant pathology with instrumentation to assess the internal condition of trees non-invasively.

Marra grew up in Norwalk. He returns as Dr. Robert Mara of West Haven, an associate scientist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in the department of plant pathology and ecology.

He is an authority on molecular biology and the diseases that cyclically fell iconic trees like the oak, birch and authentic American chestnut and destroy plant life in the Northeastern salt marshes.

And he is on the schedule of demonstrations in the park with technology developed in Germany called sonic and electrical impedance tomography that utilizes sound waves and electrical currents to detect irregularities in the trunks of trees without penetrating the bark.

The principle is similar to CAT scans used for medical diagnostics in humans.

A copper beech tree in the park, probably a legacy of the Gallaher Estate that was converted into parkland by the city, has been selected for the exam which identifies cavities, rot and incipient decay and detects the presence of water, valuable data for arborists and forest pathologists.

The festival is a spend-free, family-oriented day of entertainment and education, dedicated to advancing the place trees occupy in the vitality of the ecology.

The format assembles up to 40 exhibitors in booths on a U-shaped midway. On the periphery tree care specialists show how to plant and care for trees.

They also offer children rides sweeping the treetops in cherry-pickers or securely strapped in a rope harness, all under supervision. Face-painting, scavenger hunts and arts and crafts have been arranged as additional activities for the younger set.

Everything in the park is free to the public--admission, parking, door prizes, even a picnic-style lunch. Exhibitors, given space at no charge, are not permitted to sell merchandise.    

If householders bring with them sample leaves or twigs, certified arborists are on-site to help identify trees, foliage or unusual conditions. Look for signs that read: “Ask the Arborist.”    

At the Norwalk Tree Alliance booth, to go on display are images taken by the winners of the NTA’s second annual photo contest, capturing  the spring vitality and splendor of flowering trees in Fairfield County. Information is available online www.norwalktreealliance.org,   at ntact@ymail.com or by calling 203.847.1600.    

Activities run 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine. They incorporate ceremonies recognizing  Christine Names as Norwalk’s Tree Advocate of the Year for 2014 and the planting of a redbud tree in memory of Dick Aimee, the NTA’s late secretary and a dedicated supporter of a green environment.

 (Cutline)   Dr. Robert Marra takes readings on the health of a tree without penetrating the trunk, using non-destructive technology called tomography.

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