December 20, 2023

Trees of Trenton’s Cadwalader Park Receive Day of Much-Needed Care

TRIMMING AND MORE: Led by professional arborists, students from Trenton Central High School and Rutgers University were among those who participated in the “Work Day” on December 2 to help care for trees in Cadwalader Park.

By Anne Levin

Every year, members of the New Jersey Arborists Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (NJAISA) volunteer for a “Work Day” at a site where trees need attention. This year, it was Trenton’s Cadwalader Park.

On December 2, more than 150 volunteers fanned out in the 105-acre urban forest designed in the 1890s by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Joined by partners from the City of Trenton, New Jersey Tree Foundation, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association, and several other organizations, they removed hazardous trees and stumps to make the park safer for visitors. They reestablished the lawn to provide space for new trees that will be planted in the near future, and they pruned and rehabilitated some of the very mature trees that date back to the original planting of the park.

This effort, which included “tree ambassadors” from Trenton Central High School and the Rutgers University Forestry Club, required 14 bucket trucks, 19 chippers, 18 chip trucks, six track lifts, an excavator, three log trucks, and three cranes. All of this would have cost about $180,000 had it been contracted out, said Joe Greipp, NJAISA executive director.

“This set a new record for us,” he said. “We’ve done $150,000 worth of work at other parks, but this is the first time we’ve broken past that.”

The NJAISA chapter selects a location to help each year, and the recipient organization pays a fraction of what the total work is worth. The money goes into the International Society of Arboriculture’s tree fund, which provides grants for research in arboriculture and urban forestry. The City of Trenton contributed $25,000 toward the Cadwalader Park work day.

“This invaluable work fits with our park’s master plan and will keep the beauty and luster of this Trenton jewel for generations to come,” said Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, in a press release.

Maria Richardson, director of Trenton’s Recreation, Natural Resources and Culture Department, said, “I am deeply grateful for the outstanding volunteer work done by ISA. Their expertise and dedication have greatly contributed to the preservation and beautification of Cadwalader Park’s landscape. This collaboration. Highlights the importance of community engagement in enhancing and maintaining our natural spaces, ensuring that Cadwalader Park remains a treasured green oasis in Trenton.”

Greipp added, “Our annual Work Day is a source of pride for our association. It is a chance for us to come together from all across New Jersey and beyond to support a park in need, to collaborate with peers, and to catch up with old friends. We are filled with gratitude for all of the volunteers and our partner organizations.”

The significance of trees cannot be understated. “People have no idea how important they are,” said Greipp. “They moderate air temperature, reduce air pollutants, help mitigate flooding, sequester carbon, and have been shown to reduce crime in crime-ridden areas. They support local eco-systems. Flora and fauna depend on them.”

Cadwalader Park’s trees are particularly noteworthy. “The park was designed by Olmstead, so it has some historical significance,” Greipp said. “There are still some very large, very mature trees that exist from that original planting in the 1890s. We did undertake saving and preserving one of them.”

The goal of the work day was twofold. “In addition to the incredible value of the work on the ground, an important bonus benefit was the introduction of the tree care industry and job paths to Outdoor Equity Alliance’s tree ambassadors, who were on site to learn from these industry experts,” said Jay Watson, co-executive director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

That organization has recently partnered with the New Jersey Tree Foundation and the City of Trenton to plant 46 shade trees at the intersection of North Clinton and North Olden avenues in the capital city. Earlier this year, the three partner organizations planted 32 trees at Mulberry Street Park as part of an Arbor Day celebration.

The goal is to provide tree equity in Trenton neighborhoods, increasing shade for residents while reducing the effects of heat in the city. More than 1,000 shade trees will be planted throughout the city beginning in the coming spring.

At the end of the Work Day in Cadwalader Park, about 320 cubic yards of debris were removed. Some of the work was hazardous. But the effort was a record-setter, according to Greipp.

“I don’t think there’s another place in the country where you can do $180,000 worth of tree work in one day,” he said. “It’s something we’re very proud of. We’re very proud of the work that got done.”