Union County, NJ -- In recognition of Arbor Day 2017, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is again partnering with the Union County Shade Tree Advisory Board to sponsor the annual Arbor Day Tree Planting Program for schools.

This year, one free hundred trees will be given away to schools on request.  

“Union County is proud to support Arbor Day, a great American tradition that celebrates the many contributions that trees make to our quality of life, including economic development as well as a more diverse and healthy environment,” said Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen.

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Studies have shown that trees improve property values and provide many other civic and health benefits. They airborne pollutants, provide a cooling effect in summer, prevent soil erosion, and help to alleviate flooding.

“Our Arbor Day planting program is a hands-on exercise that helps our Union County students see themselves as stewards of the environment, one tree at a time,” said Bergen.

The annual giveaway is one of several Union County tree initiatives. The Freeholder Board’s longstanding policy calls for a one-to-one replacement of any tree lost on Union County property.

The Board also supports the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Master Tree Steward and Arbor Day Poetry Contest educational programs, and provides annual grants to plant trees on municipal property through the Greening Union County program, which launched as an initiative of Freeholder Angel T. Estrada when he was Chairman in 2004.

“Since its inception, Greening Union County has helped to plant more than 9,700 trees in our urban and suburban communities,” Bergen noted.

This year’s free Arbor Day tree is the flowering Dogwood.  Each tree is about five feet tall and weighs about 20 pounds. When fully grown they will be about 15-20 feet tall.

The trees are available on a first come first served basis while supplies last. Requests from schools must be received by Thursday, April 13, 2017. 

Schools that receive a tree can also participate in a free training session in tree planting and care.

The sessions are available to students, teachers, and parent volunteers through Union County and the Master Tree Steward Program.

The tree care training session will be held at Williams Nursery in Westfield on Thursday, April 20, from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Registration is required.

To request a tree and register for a training a training session, contact Barbara Knapp at Union County, 908-789-3653 or bknapp@ucnj.org

For quick links to all Union County environmental programs and activities visit The Green Connection online at ucnj.org/green-connection.