By Joe Hart
Trenton, NJ (September 18, 2009)- Some local municipalities can apply for federal funds to hire private contractors to remove hazardous trees, plant trees, or perform other shade tree functions. On Sept. 11, Gov. Jon S. Corzine announced $2 million in federal economic stimulus funding to the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Forest Service including nearly $1 million for tree-friendly municipalities throughout the state including four in this county.
A DEP release stated that the New Jersey Community Stewardship Incentive Program received $992,000 for use in urban and community forestry projects. The release stated that 137 cities and towns statewide have qualified for this grant program by filing state-approved tree stewardship plans.
According to DEP spokesman Larry Hajna, Cape May, West Cape May, Ocean City and Woodbine are the four local municipalities eligible to apply for funding. Hajna said that the eligibility is reviewed annually and local towns may change. “We’re happy to hear that these funds are becoming available,” said Woodbine Mayor William Pikolycky. “Woodbine has always been a tree-lined community and we’ve developed plans with short and long term goals to take care of our trees. Our second plan is about to expire and we’re working on our third to remain eligible for these grants.” “This is something that’s very dear to me, but the state doesn’t always consider it a priority so funding isn’t always available,” he added.
In Dec. 2008, Woodbine received a $3,000 Green Communities grant to hire a qualified expert to assist in the development of its third five-year Community Forestry Management Plan. According to the release, the major goal of the State’s Community Forestry Program is to educate all 566 municipalities in New Jersey about the benefits of developing their own distinctive community forestry program and to offer support for these programs. As a community’s program develops, the extent of its tree cover will increase with an improvement in the vitality of all its trees, leading to greater awareness and appreciation of the benefits of its arboreal resources.
“Woodbine has become a model throughout the State for its Community Forestry initiative,” said Pikolycky. “We are delighted with the New Year’s present of this assistance toward the development of our next round of planning for our historic tree cover. This will place us into a continued preventative maintenance program, so as to be able to protect our tree inventory and sustain our tree-lined community without excess burden on the taxpayer.”
For Pikolycky’s ongoing efforts in the Community Forestry Program, he was honored in October 2008 with the Green Community Achievement Award at the annual New Jersey Shade Tree Federation meeting in Cherry Hill. Award presenters noted that Pikolycky was very active regionally in the Community Forestry Program making Woodbine a model community that was ranked first among municipalities with over $110,000 in State community forestry grants that have greatly enhanced the quality of life for the families residing in his borough.
Cape May Herald- Woodbine, Three Others Eligible for Federal Tree Funds