ROXBURY, NJ – Roxbury residents will be able to get five free tree seedlings later this month as part of a state Forest Service program.

The seedlings will be distributed April 25, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Roxbury Recreation Department, 72 Eyland Ave., in Succasunna. Roxbury is one of 10 Morris County municipalities participating in the Forest Service’s “Tree Seedlings Program.”

“The state Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Parks and Forestry, in connection with Arbor Day, is making 60,000 free tree seedlings available to residents throughout New Jersey, including 11 Morris County locations -- 10 towns and the Park Commission's Frelinghuysen Arboretum -- throughout the month of April,” said the county in a statement today.

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It said the program is part of the Tree Recovery Campaign, an effort of the Forest Service, the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation and other partners.

“This is an excellent program that can help enhance our neighborhoods and towns across the county, while also offering environmental benefits,’’ said Morris County Freeholder Director Doug Cabana. 

The county noted the free tree seedlings program began after Superstorm Sandy destroyed and damaged trees across New Jersey in 2012.

“Since then, the program has made more than 500,000 trees available to state residents,” said the county. It noted that while some of the seedlings are not native to the area they might actually may be more durable than native species “and able to thrive in harsh weather conditions.”

The seedlings will be only two or three feet tall, but “with proper care they soon will grow to be powerhouses at cleaning the water we drink and the air that we breathe,'' said  New Jersey Forest Service Chief Todd Wyckoff in the statement.

The county offered the following tips:

•          Plant seedlings promptly to ensure they take root and thrive.

•          Be mindful of the planting site’s surroundings by avoiding overhead utility lines and proximity to structures in case of storms and consider the size of the tree when fully grown.

•          Moisten roots before planting.

•          Dig a hole two to three times larger than the roots when spread apart. Do not plant roots too deep or shallow.

•          Add loose soil gently, then add more soil and pack down firmly. Add water to firm the soil if necessary.

•          Place wood-chip mulch around the base of the seedling.

•          Water the seedling regularly but do not over-water, as this can cause roots to rot.

Residents may buy additional tree seedlings in packets of 50 that start at $18, said the county. For more information, visit www.forestnursery.org or call (732) 928-0029.

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