def #236 012/02/10
OCEAN COUNTY PARK TO BE ‘WORK DAY’ PROJECT FOR ARBORISTS
LAKEWOOD - More than 100 volunteer arborists are expected to fan out across the wide expanse of Ocean County Park off Route 88 in
Lakewood, to provide a time- compacted tree maintenance service to the county on Saturday, Dec. 4.
"Ocean County Park will be closed to the public on Saturday, December 4 as part of the ‘Work Day’ project allowing arborists from the
International Society of Arborists, New Jersey Chapter, to prune, provide care to and remove hazardous trees from the park," said Ocean County
Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation. "This is a partnership that will
help make the crown jewel of Ocean County’s park system safer and will save Ocean County money at the same time."
According to the chapter’s website, the New Jersey Arborists, Chapter of ISA (NJAISA) hosts an annual Work Day Project to provide high quality
tree care to deserving properties, landowners and associations, who in turn provide a monetary donation back to NJAISA.
"This unique partnership provides cooperating organizations that cannot afford tens of thousands of dollars worth of tree work an opportunity to
have the bulk of the work completed by some of New Jersey's best professional arborists," according to the NJAISA. "In return, the selected site
donates to NJAISA a fraction of the value of tree care provided. Recent projects have been valued at well over $100,000, showing quite a return
for a donation of $17,000."
Bartlett noted that Ocean County Forester Richard Reenstra brought the idea to him recommending the county apply for the ‘Work Day’ project.
"During these times when budgets are very tight, locating this kind of partnership is very beneficial to Ocean County and its residents who enjoy
using our park facilities," Bartlett said. "Safety is paramount in our parks and this will help us with increasing the safety at Ocean County
Ocean County Park is, for the most part, a planted forest. The trees were planted by John D. Rockefeller around the turn of the century, making
the trees between 100 and 110 years old. At this age, many tree species go into slow decline. This has led to conditions that have necessitated
the closing of the park whenever the winds get to be 25 miles per hour or better.
"With 323 acres, Ocean County Park is the centerpiece of our park system," Bartlett noted. "It has a rich and fascinating history. Ocean County
Park was originally part of Financier John D. Rockefeller's vacation estate. White pine, hemlock and other unique trees, now mature, were
imported by Rockefeller from all over the country.
"Tennis courts, open play fields, beach volleyball and even a driving range, all free of charge, appeal to adults of all ages, and there are
plenty of playgrounds for children. It is a setting that is enjoyed not just in the warm weather but during the winter months also," Bartlett
said. "With all it has to offer, it is paramount that it is properly maintained."
According to the arborists association, the "work day" is truly a partnership for the betterment of the property, the trees, and the
associations. Meetings are held early in the year to identify applicant properties and suitable candidates, determine the scope and need of tree
care, the amount of work to be completed that day, highest priority areas and tasks, property access, the need for specialty equipment or
services (cranes, skidders, fertilization rigs, stump grinders), locations of staging areas for equipment, chips and logs, and lunch and
refreshments for the volunteers.
The NJAISA and its membership provide the expertise, manpower, and equipment.
Bartlett noted the project is a very task driven event and all the work is expected to be completed in the one day.
"The association has been providing this service since 1994 and has provided a helping hand in maintaining a host of parks, cemeteries and
public lands across the state of New Jersey," Bartlett said.
Any wood produced from trees that are removed will be placed on the public woodpile at the park and will be offered to the public free of charge
at a later date.
"This is truly an innovative way for us to maintain and make safer Ocean County Park. While we save money, the association also receives funds
in order to advance tree related research projects (insects, diseases, etc), and for scholarship funds (Rutgers Urban Forestry) among other
things," Bartlett said.
Money for the project was allocated from the Ocean County Shade Tree Commission budget.
"Because of the expertise and equipment needed in this kind of work, it can be very expensive," Bartlett said. "This project provides us with
the expertise and the equipment in addition to an affordability factor that makes the benefits invaluable."