From seedlings and saplings came Symphony Woods, where nearly 3,000 trees now stand in the downtown of Columbia, a town that grew itself from more than 14,000 acres of rolling farm fields to a community of approximately 100,000 residents, more than 39,000 dwellings and thousands of businesses.

Symphony Woods Park remains one of the Columbia Association's greatest open space assets, and CA and others are striving for it to become a great park for the community, a vibrant gathering place that becomes more of a destination for area residents to enjoy.


The creation of our great community came with the taking of thousands of trees, yet those who moved to Columbia have done an incredible job in replacing trees, helping allow Columbia to remain an attractive place to live, work, play and grow.

The removal of up to 64 trees, at most — about 20 of which are unhealthy — will help create a greater Symphony Woods Park. And nearly twice that number will be planted elsewhere in the park, which will maintain its wooded character. The south side of Symphony Woods, which includes flood plain and streams, is designed for far less-intensive use and will include forest and stream restoration work, including the planting of trees to replace those lost in the process.

With this effort to preserve the past while preparing for the future, CA — inspired in part by a young man who spoke before the Planning Board — has developed the following program that will be implemented when development of the park begins. CA will plant one tree in Symphony Woods for each of the first 100 "Pioneers" who came to change the way communities were and will be developed. The trees will be distinctive and ornamental native species and will have plaques indicating the name of the pioneer.

Subsequent to planting the "Pioneer Trees," CA will also develop a program where its archivist will work with a group of young people to not only teach the history of Columbia, but also to assist the young people to choose names of people who have played a significant role in making Columbia what it is today. Based on the recommendations of the committee, CA will plant trees to commemorate those people who helped Columbia mature into this premier community.

When people visit Symphony Woods Park, they will see in the beauty and splendor of the trees the visual story of those who helped to shape our shared Columbia history.

It is regrettable that any tree has to be removed. CA understands the elements and aspects involved in each one of the losses, and will work with designers of the park and especially with the community to ensure that each tree removed to accommodate the changing needs of the community will be replaced with both the history and the future of Columbia's essence.

Phillip Nelson


Columbia Association