When the calendar turns to 2020 and gray skies go back to blue, the borough of Haddonfield is expected to receive 80 new trees as part of the Shade Tree Commission’s spring planting program.
In mid-November, the STC headed to a pair of South Jersey nurseries to locate suitable stock, and ended up tagging all that were needed between visits to Fernbrook Nursery in Bordentown and Rivendell in Greenwich.
“Both are top-quality nurseries. They do a really good job ensuring there’s a nice selection of trees,” said STC chairperson Robin Potter. “And the other thing they do, which is important, as we move into climate change territory, their arborists are counseling us to choose trees that can deal with more heat, because temperatures are getting warmer.
“For example, sugar maples are lovely trees but they’re really northern trees, and we don’t plant them anymore because it’s getting too warm for them,” Potter added. “We want to make sure we get the best because those trees will have to be out on the street for 30, 40, up to 60 years.”
The STC has already chosen most of the planting locations, a decision made between STC members and staff from the Department of Public Works. Potter revealed that most of the plantings will come in response to replacement requests by residents, but there are also aesthetic considerations.
“We’re also trying to take a look at all the main entryways in and out of town, the show streets, and we are going to try to build up a number of new trees there are well,” she said.
For those curious about who actually does the planting, for the fall and spring the STC will host a team from the NJ Tree Foundation, an organization that primarily plants trees in cities throughout the state where there are relatively few, such as Camden, Newark, Trenton and New Brunswick.
“They train a team to do this, and they’re price competitive with our Public Works people,” said Potter. “So we use them because they do a good job and they allow Public Works to do what it needs to do: take down and prune trees.”
Thirty trees were added to Haddonfield’s leafy byways last fall, thanks to a windfall from the STC’s own escrow fund, originally set up in 2014. Funds for these projects arrive through construction-related fees and assessments. As Potter explained, if someone builds a house, and due to the way it is placed on the lot a tree must be removed, borough code dictates they must pay a certain amount into the fund for removal. The borough has to be reimbursed, otherwise all residents share in the tax burden.
In addition, when lots are subdivided and trees taken down on the property, compensation for tree removal also goes into the escrow fund.
To determine locations for tree replenishment, the STC considers factors such as age, disease and falls due to weather, as well as the sidewalk and pavement construction for a particular street. Roughly 150 to 200 trees come down every year, so the trick is to replace them as soon as possible.
“We go for streets where a number of trees come down in a short period, like the first block of Estaugh,” Potter revealed. “On both sides of the street over the last four to five years, there were something like eight to 10 trees to take down there alone. Among the trees we planted in fall, we replaced all eight of those trees.
“In planting, we also try to make them fit the space,” Potter added. “We try to put in trees that don’t spill over onto the road or sidewalk, and we try to find trees that don’t interfere with overhead wires, so we’re trying to be smarter about things. We also try to group the trees to make it easier to water them in the summer and in winter to raise them so people can walk under the branches more easily.”
Despite the rigorous amount of thought and planning that goes into tree replenishment each year, Potter centers herself by being present in the moments of beauty surrounded by nature.
“One perk of being on the STC is the trips we make to go out tagging, and if you’re a real tree hugger, it’s a real pleasure to be out there among acres and acres of trees.”
For all things arboreal, visit the STC site at: http://www.haddonfieldnj.org/boards_and_committees/shade_tree_commission/index.php