On Friday, April 26th, the City of Summit will celebrate “Arbor Day” in two separate locations. At 9:30 AM, Mayor Ellen Dickson will read a proclamation declaring “Arbor Day” at the Jefferson Primary Center on Ashwood Road to commemorate the planting of a sugar maple tree at the school; a short interactive program will follow with the students at the Primary Center. At 10:30 AM, the second celebration at Soldiers’ Memorial Field will commemorate the dedication and planting of a littleleaf linden tree. All are invited to attend.

Arbor Day is traditionally celebrated on the last Friday of April. Since its founding in 1872 by J. Sterling Morton, Arbor Day has become a nationally celebrated observance that encourages tree planting and care. Typical of the pioneer spirit of his generation, Morton was born in New York, raised in Michigan and eventually settled in Nebraska. Morton hoped that mature trees would act as wind-breaks in the vast, windy prairies prone to soil erosion.

The celebration of Arbor Day is a keystone in the Arbor Day Foundation’s designation of a municipality as a “Tree City USA” – Summit has been a Tree City USA for the past 18 years. Summit’s Shade Tree Advisory Committee, which consists of local interested residents, a representative from the Reeves-Reed Arboretum, and representatives from the City’s Department of Community Services including the Director of Public Works and the City Forester, coordinates, among other things, the annual celebration of Arbor Day.

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Summit’s Shade Tree Advisory Committee recommends the following list of trees for Summit residents to plant in the City of Summit:

·         American Hornbeam

·         Dogwood

·         White Oak

·         Swamp White Oak

·         Hackberry

·         Littleleaf Linden

·         Red Maples

·         Sugar Maple

·         Northern White Cedar (evergreen)

·         Yellow Wood

·         River Birch

·         American Holly (not near streets)

·         Black Gum (great fall color)

·         Sweet Bay Magnolia

·         Service Berry

Where possible, the Shade Tree Advisory Committee has taken care to identify native trees that are especially adapted to our local soil, rainfall, wind and temperature conditions. These trees, which are widely available in our area and are less susceptible to insect damage and other diseases, are expected to thrive in Summit with a minimal amount of maintenance. Summit residents are reminded that trees that are brought to Summit from other parts of the United States (or other parts of the world) may cause unintended harm. This may occur when these trees introduce pests or diseases to which they have become resistant. In addition, some of these trees become invasive and crowd out native species. Summit’s Department of Community Services plants trees throughout the year to maintain the City’s urban forest; any residents who would like City trees planted at or near their homes should contact the City Forester or the Department of Community Services. In addition, the Department of Community Services has implemented a Tree Dedication Program where private citizens can pay to have a tree planted in the City to commemorate a special personal event like a graduation or birthday; for more information on this program or to request the planting of a tree, contact the Department of Community Services at (908) 273-6404, or submit a request via e-mail to pcascais@cityofsummit.org.

FAST FACT:  J. Sterling Morton served as Secretary of Agriculture under President Grover Cleveland (who was born in nearby Caldwell, New Jersey).