May 18, 2022

Stafford changes Arbor Day celebration to scavenger hunt format

HUG ONE: The cherry blossoms at Lake Manahawkin Park are one of the reasons Stafford maintains its Tree City USA designation. This year’s celebration spans the month of April, with prizes to be given out by raffle. (Photo by Ryan Morrill)

Arbor Day has always been a big deal in Stafford Township.

For decades, it was considered one of the biggest Arbor Day celebrations in the state. The first Stafford Arbor Day celebration took place in 1988; a single white dogwood tree was planted at the library. The following year, and every year since, the township has retained its Tree City USA designation by meeting four standards established by the Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of Foresters: a tree sign; a tree care ordinance; a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita; a celebration and proclamation of Arbor Day.

This year, with a native plant theme, the format changed from a poem/essay/poster contest to a scavenger hunt. The official celebration will be integrated into the city’s inaugural Green Fair on Friday, April 29, from noon to 4 p.m. at Heritage Park.

From April 1st until the end of the month, using inaturalist.org for identification help, children will seek to find at least 12 of the 17 listing plants native to Stafford: red maple, American holly, Atlantic white cedar, dogwood, eastern teaberry, eastern red cedar, mountain laurel, sweetgum, red oak, northern blueberry , pitch pine, beach plum, black cherry, white oak, willow oak, sassafras and swamp cranberry.

Those who complete the hunt will be entered to win a $50 gift card in a raffle that will take place at the May 2 meeting of the city’s environmental commission.

As stated in the official rules, “plants that grow naturally in an area in which they evolved are called native plants. Native plants are low maintenance, requiring little water or fertilizer, which helps conserve water and reduce the amount of pollution that enters the soil, our storm drains and our yards. of water. Native plants also help support wildlife by providing shelter, essential food, and nectar for pollinators.

Trees and seedlings will be distributed on Arbor Day/Green Fair. Homeowners are also encouraged to learn about the benefits of native planting and to landscape more wisely. To see jerseyyards.org for resources.

Treasure hunters can register as individuals or teams; plants should not be disturbed or moved from their location. Observations should be recorded in the iNaturalist app.

To qualify for the sweepstakes, submit your name/email and iNaturalist username to [email protected] (with the subject line “Scavenger Hunt 2022”) by midnight on the last day of the month.

To document a sighting, take and upload at least two photographs of the species, preferably from multiple angles – eg bark, leaf, flower, bud, etc. Entrants who cannot use the app can submit comments (tagged photos) to the email address above.

The Township of Stafford considers itself a “peak of environmental leadership,” with its “history of fighting to preserve natural lands and to establish ordinances and innovative management practices that protect and minimize impacts on our environment”.

The Tree City USA program is a community improvement initiative of the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service.

The town’s official position on environmental excellence is: “We aim to be good stewards of our resources and are concerned about our footprint on our beloved Barnegat Bay estuary. Our wish for our children is that they carry on this tradition and be proud of their community.

For more information, contact Linda Yockachonis at 609-597-1000 ext. 8537 or by email at [email protected]

—Victoria Ford

[email protected]


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