ROXBURY, NJ – Some parts of Ledgewood and Succasunna will soon echo with the sound of chainsaws as two significant tree removal projects get underway.

The Roxbury Mayor and Council recently passed resolutions authorizing Tree King of Landing (a TAPinto Roxbury sponsor) to remove trees at Ledgewood Pond Dam and Succasunna Fields.

The $30,000 Ledgewood tree removal project will allow crews to shore-up the 19th century dam at Morris Canal Park; the $47,700 Succasunna project will clear trees killed by the Emerald Ash Borer.

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“For the past few years, the township has been removing dead or dying ash trees,” said Roxbury Township Manager John Shepherd in a report to the council. “The Emerald Ash Borer continues to take its toll on ash trees throughout New Jersey.”

At the Succasunna Fields site, Tree King will remove almost 100 trees killed by the insects, according to Shepherd and Roxbury Department of Public Works Director Rick Blood. The trees are in a swath off of Tania Court and Mountainview Road that serves as a buffer between homes there and the baseball fields.

“Over the next few years, the township will need to continue to remove affected ash trees from the street rights-of-way and other public property (parks and open space property),” Shepherd said.

Funding for the Succasunna Fields culling will come from the township’s Tree Replacement Fund, he said. The fund has a balance of about $185,379, most having come from various Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) storm reimbursements over the years, Shepherd said.

“Moving forward, we will be concentrating on removing the remaining dead or dying ash trees from street rights-of-way and developed park areas,” said the manager in his report. “The Open Space Committee is currently discussing a forestry plan for various Open Space properties. A component of the forestry plan will be the removal of dead or dying Ash trees.”

Protecting the Critters

Unlike the Succasunna Fields project, the work at the Ledgewood Pond Dam will involve healthy trees, said Blood. They need to be removed to give construction crews access to the old dam, built as part of the Morris Canal in the early 1800s and in need of stabilization.

“They have to remove all the trees along the dam in preparation for the work that will probably start in the spring,” he said.

Various environmental concerns have slowed the dam restoration, particularly the discovery of migratory birds and Indiana bats that make the trees their homes during warm weather.

The tree removal will not take place until the birds head south and the bats move out from under the tree bark and into their winter homes in caves, Blood said. “The season from November to March is when you can cut trees down,” he said. “When the bats are asleep (in caves) and not living in the trees anymore.”

Money for the tree removal is coming from the township’s capital ordinance.

“There are a number of environmental restrictions which affect the allowable time to construct various aspects of the project,” wrote Shepherd. “Due to these restrictions, construction of the project is limited to a 30-week period between Aug. 15 and March 15."

But, because the bats won't leave until next month, "an additional restriction requires that trees within the project limits be cleared only between Nov. 15 and Feb. 15," wrote the manager. "Therefore, in order to construct the project in 2021, we need the trees to be cleared between Nov. 15, 2020 and Feb. 15, 2021.

Work on the dam is expected to take place between Aug. 15, 2021 and March 31, 2022, said Roxbury Township Engineer Mike Kobylarz.

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