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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2011

Contact: Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Abbie Tang-Smith (609) 984-1795

DEP, AGRICULTURE SECRETARY FISHER CELEBRATE ARBOR DAY WITH
"SPACE TREE" PLANTING, CEREMONY HONORING PROTECTORS OF TREES

(11/P60) TRENTON - The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Community Forestry Program, the New Jersey Community Forestry Council, the New Jersey Tree Foundation and Agriculture Secretary Douglas H. Fisher today celebrated Arbor Day by planting more than 100 trees at Durand Park Arboretum in Freehold Township, including a special 10-foot white pine grown from seed that traveled aboard a 1997 Space Shuttle Columbia mission.

During the ceremony, the DEP presented the Joyce Kilmer Award for outstanding contributions to community forests to George Klinger for his lifelong advocacy for trees as a member of Freehold Township Shade Tree Commission and the New Jersey Community Forestry Council. The DEP also presented Tree City USA awards marking milestones in local efforts to protect New Jersey's trees. Awards also were given to students across New Jersey who took part in the annual Arbor Day Art Contest.

"This day is all about caring for our environment, especially our trees,'' said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. "It's a day when every community and every person in the state can do something lasting to improve our environment, make our world greener, and beautify the places where they live and work. I commend all of today's award winners and everyone throughout the state who works to protect this important natural resource for all of us to enjoy."

"Trees beautify our landscape, play an important role in filtering the air, and provide a healthier environment," said Secretary Fisher. "In New Jersey, we have a long tradition of strong partnerships that work to protect our tree abundance and diversity for today and for future generations. Today, we are taking time to recognize those partnerships and to honor those who have done so much to protect trees in the Garden State."

More than 300 volunteers, including students from local schools, helped plant trees in celebration of Arbor Day and Freehold's 30th year as a Tree City USA. Freehold Township's Shade Tree Commission, established in 1963, maintains the largest acreage of municipal open space in Monmouth County. The Durand Park Arboretum, opened in 2000, spans 100 acres and provides recreation opportunities and valuable wildlife habitat.

"This Arbor Day, we planted over 100 trees, each a unique species." State Forester Lynn E. Fleming said. "From oaks and pines to dogwoods and maples, the Durand Park Arboretum exhibits the great diversity of trees found in our state."

Arbor Day concluded with a ceremonial planting of a white pine tree presented to Freehold Township by Dr. Gregory Linteris, the astronaut who brought white pine seeds on the 22nd flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia in April 1997 and 83rd space shuttle mission overall.

The New Jersey Forest Service's Community Forestry Program, in cooperation with the New Jersey Community Forestry Council and the Demarest Shade Tree Commission, provided the seeds to Linteris to take on the mission. Linteris grew up in Demarest, Bergen County, and attended Northern Valley Regional High School and Princeton University.

"I love trees, and would like to thank the New Jersey Forest Service for all they have done to take care of these historic trees, from seeds that accompanied me into space, and that will be used to promote community forestry conservation and the greening of New Jersey," said Linteris.

Although the flight was cut short, the seeds traveled at 17,500 mph for a distance of 1.5 million miles. Once the seeds were returned to the DEP's New Jersey Forest Service, they were germinated at the program's greenhouse in Jackson Township as part of the State's Heritage Tree Program. The seeds germinated in half the time typical of white pines.

More than two dozen other New Jersey municipalities, chosen by raffle in October at the 85th Annual Shade Tree Federation Meeting, also received white pine "Space Trees" to plant at local Arbor Day celebrations.

With 170 Tree City USA communities, fourth in the nation, New Jersey shows a strong commitment to maintaining and enhancing community forests. The Tree City USA Award program, sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters, recognizes cities, counties, and military bases that develop tree management programs and help educate the community on tree care.

Tree City USA Anniversary Awards

30th Year: Lakewood Township, Wayne Township, Englewood Cliffs Borough, Atlantic Highlands Borough, Freehold Township.
20th Year: Glen Rock Borough, Cranford Township, Bernardsville Borough, Manalapan Township, Lacey Township, Rumson Borough, South Brunswick Township
1st Year: High Bridge Borough, Brooklawn Borough, Beachwood Borough, Spring Lake Borough.

Calendar Art Contest Awards, First Place Winners

Kindergarten: Rebecca Rincon, St. Philip the Apostle School, Clifton; First Grade: Layla Malave, St. Francis Academy, Union City; Second Grade: The Lower Elementary Class, Netivot Montessori, Edison; Third Grade: Joseph Lacovano, Marlboro Elementary School, Marlboro; Fourth Grade: Anna Nomura, St. Michael School, Newark; Fifth Grade: Lauren Towlen, Joseph T. Donahue School, Barnegat; Sixth Grade: Aurora Dislaking, St. Joseph Academy, Bogota; Seventh Grade: Taras Bodnare, St. Joseph Academy, Bogota; Eighth Grade: Kerry Dyke, Perth Amboy Catholic School, Perth Amboy; Ninth Grade: Aisha Lance, Passaic County Technical Institute, Wayne; 10th Grade: Ashley Aquino, Passaic County Technical Institute, Wayne; 11th Grade: Taylor Foster, Union County Vocational Technical High School, Scotch Plains; 12th Grade: Jemena Wilson, Union County Vocational Technical High School, Scotch Plains.


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