Princeton school district applies for tree planting grant

Trees in Millstone Park in Cranbury, on May 15.

Princeton public school district officials have applied for a $165,245 grant through the Trees for Schools program to plant trees at Princeton High School, Princeton Middle School and the four elementary schools.

The money would be used to replace dozens of trees that have been lost to the emerald ash borer and other tree diseases, officials said. It would also expand the tree canopy.

The grant would cover the costs of planting 152 trees and planting tubes for each tree. There is money to remove 16 additional dead or dying trees, and to grind out and remove 10 tree stumps.

A qualified professional would be hired to select appropriate tree species, provide a detailed plan and oversee the initial planting and maintenance of the trees. A health check of the trees would take place at two years to ensure the success of the project.

School district officials expect to learn by mid-September whether the grant was approved, according to Sustainable Jersey. If the grant is approved, the tree work would begin in the spring.

Sustainable Princeton supports the application and the opportunity to replace and expand the tree canopy, officials said. Planting the trees would help to mitigate the impact of climate change, they said.

Jenny Ludmer of Sustainable Princeton worked closely with David Harding, the school district’s director of Plant and Operations, and Tony Diaforli, the grounds foreman, to prepare the grant application.

Parents, educators and principals at each school, as well as Municipal Arborist Taylor Sapudar, and the Princeton Environmental Commission also helped to write the grant application.

The Trees for Schools program is providing $2.5 million to public school districts, county colleges and state colleges and universities to pay for the planting of trees on campuses across the state, officials said.

The grant program is being funded by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection with proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. It is being administered by the Sustainability Institute at The College of New Jersey.