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Arbor Day Celebration 2015

On Saturday, April 25, the Liberty Twp. Environmental Commission and Girl Scout Troop 94330 of SU 91 of GSHNJ Council hosted an Arbor Day celebration. More than 300 trees were given away free to the community, including redbuds, dogwoods, willow oak, Concolor fir, Colorado blue spruce and Norway spruce. There was also a dedication of a dogwood tree in memory of Beverly Gloumakoff, a founding member of the Liberty Environmental Commission as well as a town volunteer for over 25 yrs. Deputy Mayor Dan Grover led the dedication and commented that it was the perfect way to remember Beverly and her contributions over the years.

The GS Troop, which consists of 10 sixth grade girls from White Twp. and Belvidere tackled the "Breathe" journey about air quality starting last fall. After learning about air quality issues, the girls were to take the final step and complete a take action project related to the journey. The girls slowly narrowed their projects ideas down and decided to give away tree saplings. By raising funds at a bake sale on Valentine's Day, the girls were able to purchase 100 Redbud trees to give away. Soon after, as they were deciding the best way to give their trees to community residents, they learned about the Arbor Day event that the Environmental Commission was planning. It was a natural fit for the two to work together. With trees donated by the Warren County Soil Conservation District and the NJ Forest Service, plus the trees purchased by the Girl Scout Troop and the Liberty Environmental Commission, 370 trees were made available to the community on Arbor Day. "Working with the Cadette Troop was an inspiration! These young ladies learned and shared so much about trees and how they are a vital resource," said Shannon Schaaf, Liberty Environmental Commission Vice Chair. More trees are still available. If you would like a tree, please contact the Liberty Environmental Commission at 908.637.4579 orshanschaaf@gmail.com.

The Arbor Day event was more than just a tree giveaway; it was an opportunity for the girls to share some of their knowledge about the benefits of trees with the community. The girls met ahead of time with Shannon Schaaf and they did field work together to identify and measure trees. They used an online tool to place a dollar value on each tree, determining how trees pay us back annually through stormwater filtration, carbon sequestration, energy savings and various other ways. For example, a white oak measuring at 26.5" diameter has a value to the environment of $203 for the year with 3,918 gallons of water filtered, 176 kw hours conserved, and 1,111 lbs of carbon sequestered. The girls made posters to share at the event labeling the trees and providing the information on each tree's value. The posters will remain on the trees at the Liberty municipal building to increase awareness in the community.

The girls were overwhelmed by the response of local residents and are happy to see that their efforts will pay off one tree at a time to help the environment. "We just want to say thank you to all who came out to support our project. It really meant a lot to the girls to see so many turn out on Saturday," said Troop Leader, Kathy Muscat.