A local nonprofit has developed an affordable way to plant a native tree while protecting it from deer damage.
The Sourland Conservancy is offering 200 native tree kits for just $10 each.
Every kit contains one native tree seedling, a 6-foot by 6-foot or 5-foot by 6-foot length of heavy duty metal fencing to protect the tree from deer browse, a metal post, and zip ties.
Sourland Conservancy members who participate in this fall’s tree sale will also receive a bonus scarlet bee balm.
“We are truly grateful for the tremendous community support,” Laurie Cleveland, Sourland Conservancy’s executive director, said in a prepared statement. “Rosedale Mills and Pinelands Nursery have sponsored the program, so we can offer the kits to everyone below cost. Fifty generous donors have purchased trees to offer for free to residents who request them.”
“The Conservancy’s Ash Crisis Team (ACT) developed this idea as a way to raise awareness of the over 1 million trees being killed by the emerald ash borer in this area,” Marylou Ferrara, Sourland Conservancy trustee, said in the statement. “This is not a fundraiser, we just want to give everyone the opportunity to connect with nature and help restore the forest. This has been a difficult time for everyone. Planting a tree is a wonderful, positive activity for individuals and families.”
The New Jersey Forest Service estimates that the invasive emerald ash borer is on track to kill over 1 million trees in the 90-square-mile Sourland Mountain region within the next few years, according to the statement. The Conservancy’s staff and ACT volunteers urge all residents, land managers and municipalities to help restore the forest by helping to replace this generation of ash trees.
“Approximately one-third of the Sourland Region is privately owned. Homeowners can provide critical habitat by simply choosing native plants for their landscaping,” Carolyn Klaube, Sourland Conservancy’s Stewardship Program coordinator, said in the statement. “Native trees are easy to care for, and they provide food and shelter for native birds, pollinators and other animals. Last spring, Sourland residents planted over 600 trees purchased or donated through our ACT program.”
The Conservancy staff and ACT volunteers have scheduled a contact-free pick-up day, Oct. 24, at their office parking lot at 83 Princeton Ave., Hopewell. Participants will receive pickup instructions via email including time and slot number.
Measure your vehicle’s capacity in advance. Fencing will be rolled and can be cut to 5’ height if needed, but still takes quite a bit of space to transport, according to the statement. Delivery is available if needed, but arrangements must be made in advance.
Roger Thorpe, Stewardship Committee chair, said, “We’re very fortunate to have a great group of volunteers who are very dedicated to the environment. Our no-contact pickup works very well. Participants order their tree kits in advance, and everyone gets an email with their pickup time and spot number. Staff and volunteers set out the orders in designated areas in the Conservancy parking lot. Folks just pull up and load up their own fence and trees. We’re on hand to help, if needed.”
The trees are small, about 8 to 24 inches tall, but the fences are large.
Participants are advised to wear a mask and come alone, if possible, to ensure social distancing.
Drive a pickup truck, SUV or minivan, if possible.
“We knew we were going to need a lot of room,” Conservancy member Meg Harmsen said in the statement, “so we emptied out the Subaru.”
“The birds and butterflies will thank you,” Klaube added in the statement. “The Sourland region is a critical stopover for migratory birds and is home for several threatened and endangered species. We’ve selected a nice variety of native trees for this fall’s sale. They will look attractive in your yard or woods and strengthen the ecosystem. Everyone wins.”
The Conservancy has posted a series of informational videos on YouTube to help participants choose, properly plant and care for their new trees. Subscribe to the Sourland Conservancy’s YouTube channel for free or visit https://youtu.be/ihKDeznyJWs to learn how to plant a native tree.
To learn more, purchase or donate a $10 a tree kit, or to request a free tree kit, visit the Sourland Conservancy’s website www.sourland.org or call 609-309-5155.
Sourland Conservancy’s fall tree kits are available online while supplies last. All orders must be made in advance on the Conservancy’s website https://www.sourland.org/act-ash-crisis-team. Participants will receive pickup information via email.