Cranford tree enthusiasts are seeking a new ordinance for designating historic trees, gearing up for a new street tree inventory, and helping to stabilize the tree population in Cranford.
“We’re advocates for the trees of Cranford,” said Chairman Mike Rediger of the Cranford Tree Advisory Board (CTAB). He also owns the landscaping business MCR Horticultural Enterprises. “We promote trees, we educate the people of Cranford about trees, we protect trees, create ordinances that protect trees, and try to enforce those ordinances.”
CTAB's 15 members are selected by the township committee. They regularly attend continuing education classes on tree management and share that information with other group members, town officials and residents.
Their newly proposed tree ordinance would make it easier to designate a tree as historic. It states that “trees are one of the principal components of our township’s character and sense of place” and that “by preserving our natural resources, we preserve a valuable link to our township’s past.”
If the ordinance passes, CTAB would be able to designate a tree as historic if it meets one or more of six criteria, among which are “has historical significance to a person, place or event,” and “possesses rare horticultural value.”
One example of an historic tree is the iconic Pepperidge tree in Lincoln Park.
The widely branching tree, called “Old Peppy,” is currently being considered as a historic landmark in Cranford, but it is also suffering from a big crack in one of its large branches. Public works employees noticed the structural damage earlier this month.
Town officials are talking with a professional contractor to trim the undercarriage of the tree—alleviating some of the weight of the canopy. The contractor would also install a cable system that would connect branches in a way to reinforce the structural integrity of the tree.
Plans should be in place in the near future to minimize the risk of injury.
CTAB is also getting ready to take a new street tree inventory to count each tree on public land and categorize them by species. The last inventory was completed about 10 years ago, and trees have since been added and taken away.
Last year's inventory was funded by a Community Stewardship Incentive Program grant, and the group will seek another grant for the new inventory. This initiative is necessary to remain in compliance with the New Jersey Community Forestry Assistance Act, which provides municipalities with free tree-related liability insurance.
Cranford has also implemented a No Net Loss of Trees program. When a citizen wants a tree removed from his or her property, they can contact CTAB about replacing the tree on public land. That way Cranford keeps the same number of trees in town.
CTAB has not gone unnoticed. For their hard work and dedication to the beautification of Cranford, three members received a "Pride in Cranford” award from the Cranford Chamber of Commerce in October.
As busy and active in the community as the Cranford Tree Advisory Board is, its message is simple.
“Plant a tree for Cranford,” said Rediger.