A Norway spruce sapling is bagged by Shea Schindelar, 11, and Georgia Schilling, a member of the environmental commission.

Hopatcong and Roxbury offer free tree saplings

HOPATCONG – Two-and-a-half years after Hurricane Sandy blew down hundreds of trees around the Lake Hopatcong area, borough residents picked up 750 free saplings from the Community Tree Recovery program Saturday, April 18.

“The state provided the trees to replace those lost in New Jersey municipalities during Hurricane Sandy. Hopatcong was hit especially
hard,” said Jule Girman, chairman of Hopatcong’s Environmental Commission said. More than 100 residents stopped by for the saplings.

One week later Roxbury offered four different species (oak, sycamore, sweet gum and dogwood), totaling 625 tree saplings, to its residents. By mid afternoon on the day of the giveaway all the dogwoods were gone and only a handful of oaks, sycamores and sweet gum saplings remained available.

Terri Speizer from Hopatcong checks out her new saplings.
Terri Speizer from Hopatcong checks out her new saplings.

Hopatcong residents were offered 1,000 trees in seven species native to the area: dogwood, American persimmon, Norway spruce, sweet gum, willow oak, white oak and northern red oak. The saplings ranged in size from a foot-long stick that will grow into a 6-10 ft. dogwood to an 18-inch fir with dangling roots that will grow to a 80- to 100-foot spruce.

Trees are still available by calling Girman at 973-770-0461.

“My husband just took down two huge pine trees. We have several smaller trees that are dying on our property and we want to replace them. I thought this was a great opportunity,” said Terri Speizer, who picked three dogwoods, a red oak and a willow oak. She planned to plant the trees Saturday afternoon.

JoAnn Gomez and Diane Parks, both Succasunna residents, the trees were needed for different reasons. Gomez and her husband will plant the trees for more privacy in their backyard. Parks said her new trees would hopefully help with a standing water problem in her yard.

JoAnn Gomez and Diane Parks pick through the remaining tree saplings.
JoAnn Gomez and Diane Parks pick through the remaining tree saplings.

Hopatcong councilwoman Marie Galate stopped by the stand to pick up four trees — two dogwoods and two yellow oaks. During Hurricane Sandy, she lost six full-grown trees of those varieties. The following year, mature trees on her property were hit by lightening.

Each family was permitted to select five trees. The program started last year and will continue for three more years via the New Jersey Community Tree Recovery campaign in partnership with New Jersey State Forestry Service, under the Department of Environmental Protection. Nationally, the program is an initiative of the Arbor Day Foundation and sponsored by FedEx. The trees are being distributed to 178 towns hard-hit by the 2012 hurricane. The programs will be back in each town in 2016. Roxbury’s program is not limited to just its own residents, said Sandy DiDomenico of the Roxbury Township Recreation Department.

“Today was a total success,” said DiDomenico.

By 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning, Hopatcong residents had picked up nearly 200 of the free tree saplings at the municipal building.

Of the 1,000 trees set for distribution in Hopatcong from the New Jersey Community Tree Recovery program, the remaining 250 are slowing being distributed. All of the Norway spruce are gone; a volunteer will plant them in Modick Park, Girman said. Any trees that remain will be planted by the Department of Public Works on public property.

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