GR Shade Tree Commission deliver’s ‘state of the trees’ report

The Glen Ridge Shade Tree Commission has released the following year-end report to the residents of the borough.

GLEN RIDGE, NJ — Glen Ridge is well known for its arboreal splendor, but never more so than this fall. For weeks, now, leaf color has been nothing short of breathtaking. However, climatologists confirm that such autumnal splendor is yet another symptom of climate change. As the Northeast gets warmer and drier, we can expect the color change to start later and to last far longer. And while it is tempting to see this trend as a rare bonus of climate change, it also has a distinct downside for the borough, as it will help to accelerate the decline of our iconic maple trees. Maples are actually cold-weather hardwoods, and thus more susceptible to the temperature increase. It can also be anticipated that the dry summers of the last three years, which have taken a severe toll on our trees, are the new normal.

So, there is both good news and bad news to report as we wrap up our year in trees. Fortunately, the good outweighs the bad!

Glen Ridge wins prestigious award for its tree program
In early October, Glen Ridge received the exciting news that it was to be this year’s recipient of the Green Community Achievement Award” This prestigious award, given by the NJ Forest Services in cooperation with the NJ Community Forestry Council and the NJ Tree Federation, is designed to spotlight conspicuous efforts to “improve the Garden State’s environment and overall quality of life through wise management and care of trees, raising awareness of the value of community trees, and enhancing the beauty of towns and cities with trees.”

The borough was cited in particular for its many initiatives to preserve and restore the historic character of its urban forest, not only with bold replanting expenditures, but also with innovative educational programs and outreach projects. These have included photo contests, tree walking tours, tree scavenger hunts, and even the placement of QR code tags on trees to engage passersby.

In accepting the award for the town, Deputy Administrator Michael Zichelli noted that these initiatives had begun in earnest in 2010 when a Shade Tree Commission was re-established to deal with the alarming and precipitous decline of the borough’s much touted street trees. To meet this challenge, the commission, working with the town arborist, completed a tree inventory, created a comprehensive master plan, and set a goal of planting 1,000 trees in five years’ time.

“To have a successful program,” Zichelli concluded, “one must recognize that trees are part of the borough’s infrastructure and need to be attended to just like the water system and roadways.” To that end, the Shade Tree Commission’s “commitment to healthy trees represents a long-term investment in the beauty, biodiversity and historic character of Glen Ridge.”
This fall’s planting: a celebratory milestone
In 2013, largely in response to the devastation left by hurricane Sandy, the Shade Tree Commission, with the full cooperation of the mayor and council, established the ambitious goal of planting 1,000 trees in five years. With this fall’s planting of nearly 100 trees, more than 600 trees will have gone into the ground.

And, despite three consecutive summers of especially dry weather, remarkably few of these saplings have died. This is due in part to the remarkable efforts of residents to keep them well watered — no small feat considering a newly planted tree requires five gallons of water each week for every inch of trunk diameter!

For this reason, it has been the commission’s policy to satisfy as many homeowner tree requests as possible, knowing that requested saplings generally get optimal care.

Tree requests for spring 2017 should be sent as soon as possible to shadetree@glenridgenj.org or trees@glenridgenj.org.

Weed-whacked saplings
Dry summers in the Northeast appear to be the new normal. So our trees have been under considerable stress during the last three. This past summer took an especially high toll, as 80 trees were removed in August, and an additional 54 trees will be removed imminently. Of these 134 trees, over 60 were mature trees, and close to 90 percent were maple trees.

Particularly sad, however, is the fact that a portion of these trees died of “unnatural causes” — several, including some larger trees, as a result of being girdled by the reckless use of weed whackers and power mowers. So one of the reasons to properly mulch trees is to keep power equipment safely away from tree trunks.

Do you have an ash tree, or think you do, in your yard?
Let us kn0w.
It can be anticipated that over 97 percent of untreated ash trees will die from emerald ash borer infestation within the next eight years. While the town has only 44 ash street trees, the number of ash trees on private property has not been determined. What has been determined is that homeowners with ash trees face complicated decisions about whether or not to treat their trees. What are the trade-offs? Making the situation more fraught is the fact that dead ash trees dry out rapidly and become particularly dangerous — so much so that the costs of their removal are often very high.

Obviously, those with ash trees need to have all the reliable information available to make these crucial decisions. Therefore, it is the Shade Tree Commission’s intent to provide up-to-the-minute information to all those who need it.

So if you have an ash tree, or think you do, email us at shadetree@glenridgenj.org.
The members of the Shade Tree Commission are Elizabeth K. Baker, chairwoman, Larry Stauffer; Joan Lisovicz and Eric Hanan.

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