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Lawrence Township officials receive grant to conduct tree inventory

With a $10,500 state grant in hand, Lawrence Township officials are planning to take stock of every tree in the southern part of the municipality.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection approved the township’s Urban and Community Forestry grant application earlier this year, clearing the way for the tree inventory to take place in the spring.

The grant will provide funding for municipal officials to hire a licensed arborist to perform the tree inventory in the southern part of the township; south of Colonial Lake and to the township’s borders with Ewing Township, Hamilton Township and Trenton.

The study area includes the Colonial Lakelands, Colonial Heights, Slackwood, Harney’s Corner and Spruce Street neighborhoods, and the Brunswick Pike Redevelopment Area. Those neighborhoods are older and some trees have died or have been removed over the years.

In newer developments in the northern part of Lawrence Township, trees were required to be planted as part of the Planning Board approval process. The southern part of the township was developed before those planning requirements were in place and thus there is no tree inventory for that part of town.

The tree inventory calls for the arborist to locate the trees, planting sites and stumps along the right-of-way areas in the study area, township officials said. There are an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 trees, planting sites and stumps.

The species, location, diameter and a health rating will be provided for each tree. A risk analysis will be completed for each tree and will provide specific maintenance recommendations.

Lawrence Township will benefit from the arborist’s assessments, officials said. Trees that have been lost to winds and storm damage could have been saved by proper maintenance of those trees.

In addition to locating the trees and documenting their condition, the tree inventory will help municipal officials plan on where they will plant new trees in southern Lawrence Township. One priority is to add to the number of trees in public areas.

The tree inventory also could help guide a cohesive neighborhood planting plan by providing information about other available planting areas, together with an existing tree species list for that part of the township.

Lawrence Township also has focused on revitalizing the southern part of the township over the past 20 years and streetscape improvements are part of future planning, municipal officials said.

The Brunswick Pike Redevelopment Area, which stretches from around Whitehead Road to the Brunswick Circle, is one of the key areas that would benefit from the tree inventory and plans for future tree planting.

There is a 15-foot-wide strip median that divides the northbound and southbound lanes of Brunswick Pike in the Brunswick Pike Redevelopment Area and township officials would like to plant trees in the median.

Once completed, the South Lawrence Tree Inventory Project could serve as a model for the rest of the township, municipal officials said. The data process, mapping and project format could be used to expand the tree inventory to other parts of the township.

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