Ocean County Press Release
WHILE the winter season may have stripped it of its leaves, the Sweet Gum tree (Liquidamber styraciflua) at Mott Place in downtown Toms River still fit the bill of one of Ocean County's big trees.

With measuring tape in hand, Ocean County Commissioner Virginia E. Haines, liaison to the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation, along with Michael Mangum, Director of the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation, measured the tree's circumference noting it was almost 10 feet.

The tree height of 70 feet and the crown spread of 68 feet makes it a perfect candidate for the county's Big Tree list.

"This tree is probably 100 years old if not older," Haines said. "We have big trees gracing lands across this County. We want to know about them in order to preserve and protect them.

"Big trees play an important role in the health of our environment and ultimately our health," she said.

The Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation, in partnership with the Ocean County Shade Tree Commission is asking residents to nominate big trees throughout the County for a Big Tree Registry.

Ocean County has launched the Big Tree Registry, a compilation of the largest native and naturalized tree species in the County. Nominated by Ocean County residents, these trees have environmental and historical value that should be conserved for future generations.

To nominate a big tree, visit the Ocean County Parks Facebook page (@OceanCountyParks), or the Ocean County Parks website www.oceancountyparks.org to find the necessary forms, as well as instructions as to how to measure the tree.

Some of the environmental benefits of big trees include the removal of tons of pollution in the air; combating climate change by removing carbon dioxide; preventing water runoff, erosion and water pollution; preventing flooding; providing wildlife habitats; and the tree roots help filter ground water by absorbing nutrients and toxins.

"Big trees provide up to 600 times the environmental benefits of typical trees," said Ocean County Commissioner Virginia E. Haines, who serves as Chairwoman to the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation, as well as liaison to the Ocean County Shade Tree Commission. "It is important that these trees are documented to keep them from being removed."

In addition, large trees are also a way to preserve history. Trees that have historic value are also called Heritage or Witness trees.

"Many trees also have historic value and have been around for hundreds of years," Haines said. "The only way for these trees to truly tell their story is for us to preserve and appreciate them for the value and pleasure they bring to the County."

"The Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation has always taken great pride in educating our residents on proper conservation," said the Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Gary Quinn. "With the help of our residents, we can continue our ongoing conservation efforts and make sure our trees are protected."

Ocean County has been part of the New Jersey Forest Service (NJFS), who oversees the state Big Tree Conservation Program and keeps a record of the largest trees in the state, since the 1930s.

On the NJFS Big Tree Registry, Ocean County has 23 trees listed, with many of them located on the grounds of Georgian Court University in Lakewood Township.

For more information on the Big Tree Registry, contact the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation's administration office at 732-506-9090 ext. 5941 or email bigtreelist@co.ocean.nj.us.

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