OCEAN COUNTY – There is a lot of history in Ocean County. Some of these big, old trees have seen quite a lot of it.
The Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation, in partnership with the Ocean County Shade Tree Commission is urging residents to nominate big trees throughout the county for a Big Tree Registry.
The Big Tree Registry is a compilation of the largest native and naturalized tree species in the county. Residents will nominate the trees that have environmental and historical value that should be conserved for future generations.
Ocean County Commissioner Virginia Haines recently visited downtown Toms River to examine a sweet gum tree (liquidamber styraciflua) at Mott Place which clearly fit the bill of one of Ocean County’s big trees.
Haines, who serves as liaison to the County’s Parks and Recreation Department, joined the agency’s director, Michael Magnum, in measuring the tree’s circumference, noting it was almost 10 feet.
The tree height of 70 feet and the crown spread of 68 feet makes it a perfect candidate for the county’s Big Tree list.
“This tree is probably 100 years old if not older. We have big trees gracing lands across this county. We want to know about them in order to preserve and protect them. Big trees play an important role in the health of our environment and ultimately our health,” she said.
Some of the environmental benefits of big trees include the removal of tons of pollution in the air; combating climate change by removing carbon dioxide; preventing water runoff, erosion and water pollution; preventing flooding; providing wildlife habitats; and the tree roots help filter ground water by absorbing nutrients and toxins.
Haines added that “big trees provide up to 600 times the environmental benefits of typical trees. It is important that these trees are documented to keep them from being removed.”
Large trees that preserve history and provide historic value are also called Heritage or Witness trees.
She said, “many trees also have historic value and have been around for hundreds of years. The only way for these trees to truly tell their story is for us to preserve and appreciate them for the value and pleasure they bring to the county.”
Since the 1930s Ocean County has been part of the New Jersey Forest Service (NJFS), who oversees the state Big Tree Conservation Program and keeps a record of the largest trees in the state.
Ocean County has 23 trees listed on the NJFS Big Tree Registry with most of them located on the grounds of Georgian Court University in Lakewood Township.
Those seeking to nominate a big tree should go to the Ocean County Parks Facebook page (@OceanCountyParks), or the Ocean County Parks website oceancountyparks.org to find the necessary forms, as well as instructions as to how to measure the tree.
For more information on the Big Tree Registry, contact the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation’s administration office at 732-506-9090 ext. 5941 or email email@example.com.