HOWELL – Local residents planted over 700 trees across Winston Park at the Roots For Rivers Community Tree Planting Event.
The Howell Environmental Commission created the event after receiving a grant that was awarded earlier in the year from Sustainable Jersey and the Nature Conservancy. The grant program is designed to fund the planting of 100,000 trees in New Jersey.
“We had to identify a township owned property that was alongside a river or a stream that needed reforestation,” Environmental Commission’s Chairperson Joan Osborne stated. “With the help of the other commissioners we identified a few parcels and then after assistance of Jim Herrmann (the township engineer at the time), we settled on Winston Park. The park previously had a baseball field, but because of chronically wet conditions, had become unusable. The planting of trees in the park will help with drainage issues and provide a good riparian buffer to protect the water quality of the Toad Creek.”
Osborne also explained how important it is to plant trees through the community since an increase in development has led to many trees being removed.
“The fact that the grant would pay for the trees and the tree protection materials was a great opportunity to do something to increase the amount of forested land in the Township,” Osborne said. “The tree protection will protect the saplings from deer and other local wildlife so they can grow. Additional protection for the trees is being provided through the Township Shade Tree Commission which paid for a fence around the site of the new trees and shrubs. The trees selected are all native to New Jersey.”
The Commision created the tree planting event and sought out volunteers since the grant does not fund any labor to plant the trees. The event was originally planned to be held on Earth Day but due to COVID-19, it was postponed and eventually rescheduled. Once they got approval of the new date, the township Department of Public Works Supervisor Paul Novello organized the fencing on short notice and helped with all other aspects of the project.
Over 150 volunteers of all ages came out to help and support the tree planting. Mayor Theresa Berger, Councilman John Bonevich and Andrew de Garmeaux attended the tree planting and showed their support to the community.
“The best part of the project was the great response from the community,” Osborne said. “We have school officials, teachers, scout troops, families, business groups, friends of the members of the Environmental Commission, Shade Tree Committee members and folks from the Winston Park neighborhood coming out to help. Community service certifications are being provided for those who need it for scouting or school purposes.”