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Shade Tree Commission takes root on Web
Replanting, care of plant life top priority of Mtn. Lakes group
by Beth Rooney Suereth
As published in the Daily Record, October 13, 2004

“Take a look at the What’s New portion of the Mountain Lakes Web site home page at and scroll down. [NOTE: The Web site has changed since this article was published.] Click on the link for Shade Tree Commission, and you will have the opportunity to delve into fascinating information about what is arguably the most important resource in Mountain Lakes – the trees.

The lovely curvilinear streets, charming Arts and Crafts houses, sparkling lakes and undeveloped space all contribute a great deal to the incomparable beauty of Mountain Lakes. But the most significant effect – the part that fills you with a sense of peace and the joy of living – is created by the trees. The leaf canopy canopy created by towering oaks and other hardwoods is beautiful. It provides shade, adds charm and creates a sense of tranquility.

Consider these fascinating facts: A single healthy mature tree converts 26 pounds of carbon dioxide into oxygen every year. One sugar maple along a roadway removes – 140 milligrams of chromium, 820 milligrams of nickel and 5200 milligrams of lead from the environment.

Trees can decrease winter heating costs by up to 25 percent and buffer buildings from winter winds. In summer, they can slash air conditioning demand by up to 50 percent. They absorb sunlight, provide shade and lower ambient temperature though evapo- transpiration in leaves.

The state-chartered Shade Tree Commission is charged with regulating the planting and care of shade trees and shrubs in the borough right-of-way along public roads.

The right-of-way is the section of property that extends from the roadside five to 15 feet onto each and every property in the borough. Every summer, commission members walk every street in town and inspect every tree in the right-of-way. The commission maintains a database that lists the location, size, species and condition of all trees in borough rights-of-way.

To find the size of a street’s right-of-way, contact either Borough Hall or the Shade Tree Commission. If you have a survey of your property, it may appear there. Also Borough Hall tax maps show rights-of-way. The Boulevard is a Morris County Road. The borough owns a linear park along the Boulevard on the path side. The Shade Tree Commission maintains the trees in this park. On the other side of the Boulevard, trees in the right-of-way are maintained by the county.

Commission members identify any trees that may require attention, especially where there is danger of tree limbs or trunks falling on people, property or power lines. They create a “prune and remove” list that is used by the borough manager to plan the annual tree maintenance program executed by the Mountain Lakes Department of Public Works. But the commission’s top focus is replanting.

“We are trying to be a lot more proactive about replacing shade trees,” Shade Tree Commission member Alison Stone said. Many existing shade trees were planted in the early part of the last century, with a vision of how they would grace and enhance Mountain Lakes homes and streets today.

Many households receive saplings through an ongoing Shade Tree Commission program. Over the last five years, the Shade Tree Commission has given about 1,500 saplings to school children. Over time, these saplings will produce tall trees.

The Shade Tree Commission is comprised of seven members. One member of the borough council, currently George Jackson, serves as liaison to the commission. Longtime resident Marianne Wilson serves as tree historian to the borough. Her father, Thorleif Fliflet, created the Shade Tree Commission. Her husband, Lyman, took the helm after her father.”