Chatham Shade Tree Commission Says 175-Year-Old Scarlet Oak Can Be Saved

Scarlet Oak Tree at Lum Field can be treated and saved Credits: Chris Stepanian

CHATHAM, NJ - As many people in the borough have recently realized there is a barricade around the 150-200 year old Scarlet Oak Tree in Lum Field. While there have been some reports that the tree is unhealthy and will be removed, the Chatham Borough Shade Tree Commission (STC) announced that the tree needs to be pruned and treated for ant and fungus protection, but should stand as a monument in Chatham for the foreseeable future.

Recently, Chatham Borough conducted a “windshield survey” of all the public trees in town, something that the Borough and the STC conducts on a periodic basis to determine the health and wellness of the public tree population. While some trees clearly warranted removal, others required a more thorough evaluation. Therefore, a more detailed evaluation of the Lum Field Scarlet Oak was commissioned by Certified Tree Expert John Linson.

Linson’s presented his report at the July 21st meeting of the Shade Tree Commission, where he reported the following: “The tree is in fairly good condition for a tree of this age (approximately 175 years old). It exhibits good crotching structure. The canopy is well distributed. It has very little residual storm damage.”

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While the tree clearly needs some attention, the STC and the DPW have agreed to follow Linson’s recommendations and should be addressed in the coming weeks, after which, the barricades will be removed. By addressing these issues and continuing to monitor the tree, Linson believes that the tree could survive for another 30 years or more.

Patrick Carroll, chairman of the STC reports:  “The Shade Tree Commission is very sensitive to the risks associated with falling branches and declining trees. Each member of the commission takes their role very seriously especially when it comes to the safety of the public. Each member of the commission has read Linson’s report in detail and had the opportunity to ask questions to clarify items in the report.  

"Unanimously, the Commission voted to conduct appropriate maintenance on the tree and continue to evaluate its health periodically.”

Chatham Borough has had a Shade Tree Commission since 1909. The Shade Tree Commission’s responsibilities include planting and maintaining trees along Borough streets, public rights-of-ways, and municipal open spaces. The goal of the Shade Tree Commission is to create and maintain optimum tree cover and species diversity while keeping up a pruning and removal program that will keep our streets and parks safe.

The commission is made up of seven (7) members and two (2) alternates. Members are appointed by the mayor for a five-year term. The commission meets every other month. There is currently an opening on the STC, if interested in joining, please fill out the Volunteer form on the Borough Website.  


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