Mapping the Big Trees: A Bulldozed Beauty Prompts a Program Aimed at Protecting Water Quality by Preserving Arboreal Treasures

By Lantz, Gary | American Forests, Autumn 2003 | Go to article overview

Mapping the Big Trees: A Bulldozed Beauty Prompts a Program Aimed at Protecting Water Quality by Preserving Arboreal Treasures


Lantz, Gary, American Forests


It was the diesel cough or a bulldozer headed for a potential state champion that motivated a group of New Jersey conservationists to look to the sky for help ill saving forest giants threatened by development.

The Garden State's Big Tree Water Quality Project materialized when officials with the Mercer County Soil Conservation District beard of a huge old swamp chestnut oak facing developer-imposed demolition.

"We found out about the tree in the eleventh hour, actually the eleventh and a half hour, and we just couldn't come up with a way to save it," recalls conservation district director Bill Brash. "The tree had a tremendous amount of character, and it may have been a state champion for all we know."

The loss of the giant oak prompted the agency to seek a better way of identifying and protecting big trees threatened by development--a way that would cause a blip on the environmental radar screen long before the 'dozers began to billow black smoke.

"We needed a method that would let developers know these big trees were out there, where they were, and how they could avoid destroying them," Brash says. "After some research on our part we convinced the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection that big tree protection could be fundable as a way to protect water quality under the Clean Water Act."

Soil conservation officials had plenty of data on hand to help them prove that trees provide the best available land cover for reducing rainfall runoff and preserving groundwater recharge, both critical factors in maintaining the "base flow" of any stream. And, since base flow is synonymous with stream health and water quality, it was clear that clean water is directly linked to the canopy cover provided by trees.

With a grant in hand to develop a demonstration project, the Mercer County crew looked to the sky for information that planners could access at the speed of light. Utilizing GPS/GIS satellite data, the group assembled a database that included all the big trees in a sprawling watershed district including portions of Hunterdon, Mercer, and Monmouth counties.

"We worked in tandem with the New Jersey Forest Service to put together a list of all state champion tree nominees found throughout the watershed, along with any trees of historical value," Brash says. The program is similar to AMERICAN FORESTS' National Register of Big Trees, which compiles records on the largest known of 826 native and naturalized species in the continential U.S. and Alaska.

The end result has been a web-based Big Tree information center that instantly identifies the location of each big tree in the watershed district, provides a photograph of the giant and includes all the vital statistics developers might require. Each New Jersey big tree in the study area also can be cross-referenced with a municipal tax map and a lot and block number.

The database, funded by taxpayer dollars and available to the public under New Jersey "right to know" laws, is open to anyone with the curiosity and a PC to access it. At the same time builders can check for the presence of big trees as part of, or even before, the development planning process.

The project benefits developers in several ways. "Most important from our point of view is the fact that they'll be protecting big trees and in turn, protecting local water quality," Brash says. "At the same time, identifying and saving big trees can reduce costs; the developer won't have to pay someone to clear that particular parcel of land or a crew to haul away the debris. And in the long run, we believe big tree zones will add to the real estate values of surrounding homes."

Since between 90 and 95 percent of all tree roots are in the upper 18 inches of the soil and generally extend to twice the diameter of the crown spread, the new program asks developers to "set aside a 'safe zone' distance that equals twice the crown diameter," Brash says. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Mapping the Big Trees: A Bulldozed Beauty Prompts a Program Aimed at Protecting Water Quality by Preserving Arboreal Treasures
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.