EAST ORANGE, NJ - The Friends of Watsessing Park Conservancy will be planting 400 native trees and shrubs in various areas of the park on Sunday, April 23. This is one small step in the conservancy’s broader long term goal of revitalizing the botanical milieu within the park.
Many of the trees living in the park are 100 years old or more. It is important to augment the existing and aging arboreal population with new and younger trees in order that they will mature to take their place in the distant future. These 400 trees and shrubs were awarded to the conservancy through a grant from the New Jersey Tree Foundation based on the merits of the Conservancy's plans to enhance the value of Watsessing Park to the surrounding communities.
According to their website, www.njtreefoundation.org, the “Foundation is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to planting trees in New Jersey’s most underserved neighborhoods.” This grant is just one of the ways that the NJ Tree Foundation has pursued urban forestry replenishment across the state. It is also a priority for the Conservancy to restore the park, as much as possible, using native species and in accordance with the original designs of the Olmsted brothers, who designed many of the parks in the Essex County Park System.
The Friends of Watsessing Park Conservancy formed a committee of its members to develop a long term strategy to accomplish this based on the extant archival documents and drawings from the collection of the Essex County Park Commission. The plans for this current phase of the tree restoration will focus on entryway beautification, shade improvement, and screening from the urban context creating a natural sanctuary that remains connected to the surrounding residential neighborhoods in a meaningful way.