2007-01-18 / Front Page

Residents asked to help find E.B.'s biggest trees


Staff Writer

EAST BRUNSWICK - Who says older isn't better? When it comes to being the biggest tree in town, age will be a key factor.

Trees, most of them anyway, have been able to withstand the onslaught of highways and modern development, and the East Brunswick Environmental Commission wants to shed some light on what can be considered the township's oldest living residents.

The commission is holding a Big Tree contest this winter and through the spring in an effort to determine the biggest ones in the township.

"There is something really special about big trees and in many ways they are a wonderful link to the past," commission member David Moskowitz said. "This contest will allow us to find the oldest living members of our community, many who have witnessed the wonderful history of our town."

Those entering should measure the tree's circumference at 4.5 feet up from the ground. Tree height is not a factor in the contest, because it is not a standard in measuring trees.

"A great way to measure the circumference is to circle the tree with a piece of string and then measure the string," he said.

The commission wants to determine the largest tree in each species.

"We may have 30 different species," Moskowitz said.

The contest is open to anyone, and five awards will be given out. Of the largest from each species, five will be randomly selected for the prizes, which will be a copy of the Peterson Field Guide Series' "A Field Guide to the Trees."

Moskowitz said that, not surprisingly, the largest trees tend to be the older ones. Some of the larger oak trees in town are between 200 and 300 years old, he said.

"They will be the oldest living things in the township, much older than any structure," he said, adding that the old trees are really historic treasures, and they offer a habitat that younger trees cannot.

"Winter is the perfect time to search for big trees, as they stand out now that the leaves have fallen," he said. "Great places to look are in cemeteries, tree lines on farms, around historic houses and in parks."

He cautioned, however, that anyone taking part be respectful of private property and not enter such places without first getting the owner's consent.

The commission will help identify the trees and will post updates on its Web site as entries come in, he said.

Entries should be made to the commission at its Web site - - njnaturenotes.com. Entries should include a photograph as well as the location of the tree.

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