September 23, 2008

Thanks to Law, New Trees Grow on Campus


LITTLE FALLS -- Montclair State University has planted nearly 200 trees on campus to comply with a state law requiring state entities to replace trees it cuts down.

Across campus, newly planted trees, including white oak, sugar maple, Carolina silverbell and flowering dogwood, now adorn the grounds.

MSU is adhering to the state's "No Net Loss Reforestation Act," which requires state institutions to replace deforested trees on land a half-acre or larger. The university had to replace trees lost in 2003 when it built its newest residences, "The Village at Little Falls."

In order to build the five-building residential village, trees were removed from more than 30 acres of land on campus. Before construction could begin, MSU had to submit a plan to the state Division of Parks and Forestry that showed how it would reforest the campus.

"No. 1, we want to be in compliance with the state mandate," said Timothy Carey, assistant vice president of facilities services at MSU. "But it also makes good sense from a sustainability perspective. It's really beautified the campus."

The total cost of the tree-planting project was $90,000, according to Paula Maliandi, a university spokeswoman. That included landscape design and the installation of the new trees.

Under the No Net Loss Reforestation Act, the state uses a formula to determine how many trees have to be planted. If the entity cannot plant trees on the affected area or on nearby state-owned land, then it must plant trees on property owned by the town.

"We try to plant the trees as close to the location they came from as possible," said Dana Loschiavo, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

If a state entity is unable to plant new trees, it must pay the state compensation for the lost foliage. To date, the state has raised about $3 million this way, all of which will be redistributed as reforestation grants, Loschiavo said.

In the case of MSU, workers from an outside contractor spent the summer planting 196 trees on campus. The newly planted trees can be recognized by the green bags surrounding the bases of their trunks.


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