• Tree for All: NJ Forest Department Distributes Free Trees to Residents
  • April 24, 2018 | Author: Rosa D. Forrester
  • Law Firm: Goldberg Segalla LLP - Newark Office
  • We thought it would be a breath of fresh air to report this week on a positive development to the local environment, in this instance, happening right here in my home state of New Jersey. In recent years, New Jersey has been hit with more natural disasters than ever before, resulting in a serious reduction in the amount of healthy trees in the state. The Forest Department has been pining for that to change, so it has instituted a free tree sapling program for residents of counties hit hard by Hurricane Sandy and the recent Nor’Easters. The Tree Recovery Campaign, which began in 2014, has taken root and has now been opened to all communities in the state for a limited time.

    Registered municipalities across the state will receive up to 2,000 seedlings per town for distribution to residents through early May. Municipal residents are eligible to leaf the distribution site with up to five bundles of free seedlings. Communities will receive species that grow well in their region, with towns in North Jersey receiving sugar maple or black oak trees. Southern counties may get Atlantic white cedars, and shore towns may receive beachy shrubs like bayberry and beach plum. Planting local species ensures that no invasive strains of trees are brought in by overzealous green thumbs, and adds to the beautification of the Garden State.
    The DEP Acting Commissioner Catherine McCabe said, “Trees provide habitat for wildlife, clean the air we breathe, provide shade, reduce the damaging effects of wind, limit erosion, and contribute to a healthier environment.” About 500,000 trees have been distributed around the state since the program started, but new governor Phil Murphy has promoted the project and has drawn attention to the tree distribution in various towns as part of his environmental initiatives. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, the trees distributed by the campaign have taken 950,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and have saved millions in energy costs.
    So if you’re like me and live in the Garden State, help yourself to a tree — they’re free.