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“Canary Trees” in Acton

Did you see one of the “Canary Tree” signs in Acton?

Just as canaries were used in coal mines to warn of imminent danger, these “Canary Trees” are being damaged by leaks from underground gas pipes and they warn us of danger to our health and our climate.

What is the Problem with gas and trees?

  • “Canary Tree” signs mark some of the 124 trees in Acton where a tree has been damaged by underground “natural” gas pipes actively leaking methane. Methane gas suffocates tree roots.
  • Methane gas is also a potent contributor to climate change and to human illness. On the
    other hand, our street trees add beauty, cleanse the air, and moderate temperatures!
  • National Grid is responsible for these leaks, yet they have no mandate or incentive to fix
    them unless there is a risk of explosion. Nor does National Grid acknowledge
    responsibility for tree die-back.
  • And you are paying for the leaked gas. National Grid is permitted by law to charge you
    for the losses in its system.

What You Can Do

Contact National Grid

It’s important for National Grid to know that the community is paying attention, wants to know what is happening, and expects results.

  • Email National Grid executive Marcy Reed at Ask that the company prioritize fixing leaks that affect the root zones of trees. Tell them about your concern for Acton street trees along the leaking gas pipelines.
  • National Grid claim form for loss of property / tree.
  • If you smell gas, call National Grid’s emergency line: 1-800-233-5325.

Help change policy on gas leaks and climate crisis

  • Mothers Out Front supports the FUTURE Act in the Massachusetts legislature. This state legislation would require National Grid to fix gas leaks in the root zone of trees, and create a gas system transition to renewable energy. We support additional legislation to address the climate emergency. Learn more here.
  • Join Mothers Out Front Acton
  • Sign up for Mothers Out Front action alerts to write emails to support state climate legislation, learn about hearings, rallies and more.

Support the Acton Climate Coalition Town Meeting Resolution!

Be an Acton tree advocate!

  • Email us at if you would like to learn how to advocate for a tree affected by gas. We will help you to recognize the signs of tree damage and will share our healthy tree protocols.
  • Honor all trees! Click here for our Acton Tree Scavenger Hunt
  • See our Resources link below for a list of great activities for kids, from wonderful picture books to lessons to organizations with family-friendly tree ideas.

Post on Social Media!

  • Post photos of signs to social media. Post a photo and address of the sick tree or the empty tree pit. Use the hashtags #CanaryTrees or #FixBigGasLeaks  #nomorefossilfuels  and  @NationalGridUS
  • Follow us on Facebook: Mothers Out Front Acton.
  • We are asking National Grid to take action on gas leak repair. Contact them on social media and let them know what you learned here. @NationalGridUS “Give all new and sick trees a chance.”





  • Gas leaks located near your home (National Grid Reports compiled by HEET)
  • 2017 Acton Gas Leaks Survey (including affected tree locations)
  • Gas Leaks and Trees information from Mothers Out Front: Fact Sheet
  • Article: Dead and dying trees have more methane in their soil. Recent study by B.U. about street trees, gas leaks, and human health in Chelsea, MA – HERE
  • Article about trees and Nathan Phillips, a plant physiologist at Boston University, who has done extensive research on gas leaks and their impact on trees.
  • Silver Unicorn Bookstore website has a great Tree booklist. Scroll down to the second list.