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Saturday, August 30, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 75.0° F  Partly Cloudy
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Perhaps if Ents still roamed the earth, Madison's trees would get a little more respect. Ents, you'll recall, are the humanoid tree-beings who figured prominently in one of the climactic battles in The Lord of the Rings. The Ents were the protectors of the woods, and if you read contributor Katherine Esposito's report, "A Tree Falls in Madison," you'll see that our city's trees could use some heroes.

The term "urban forest," when applied to Madison, would lead one to think immediately of the magnificent UW Arboretum. But that Depression-era gift to Madison (see "Back to Nature," 5/29/09) is not what Esposito, a longtime contributor to these pages, is investigating. Rather, it is the thousands of trees that both the city, in its rights-of-way, and private citizens, in their yards and properties, are responsible for throughout Madison.

We take for granted these silent residents of our city's streets and parks, protectors and nurturers of our homes, until their sudden absence reminds us of what is no longer there. Trees are valuable for more than harvesting, and we gain from tending them, much like livestock. To understand the full scope of the neglect Madison trees suffer from our lack of interest, read Esposito's report, then go out and hug a tree.

This being the first issue of October, you'll find Kids & Parents coverage in this edition, as you will in the first issue of every month. Author Lynn Welch reports on the efforts to minimize the flu threat this fall. The frontline defense, we learn, is hand-washing. And there is more to this than simply running water. You'll also find Kids' Critics Choice, with a select list of October attractions. For a full lineup of events of interest to kids and/ or their parents, visit "Families" and "Kids Stuff" at TheDailyPage.com/theguide.

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