Submitted by STEVE JASIECKI
MARGATE – Sustainable Margte, the city’s green team, Friday, April 29, planted a seedling from the renowned, mighty “Salem Oak” tree and gave away beach plum and bayberry shrubs, red maple tree seedlings and pollinator plant seed packets in celebration of Arbor Day.
The Salem Oak, located in Salem County, was one of New Jersey’s most recognized historical trees. The white oak was the sole surviving tree from the original forest that covered the land and was estimated to be more than 500 years old. Legend has it that Quaker John Fenwick, the man who brought the first English settlement to West Jersey in 1675, brokered a treaty with the Lenni Lenape Native American tribe under the branches of the stately tree.
The old oak met its demise when it came crashing down on June 6, 2019 due to old age; however, its legacy lives on. Before it fell over, state foresters collected acorns and raised seedlings in the NJ Forestry nursery with the intention to distribute a tree to each of the 565 municipalities in the state.
The sapling serves as a bridge linking all the New Jersey communities together through a common ancestor, the Salem Oak.
Recycling Coordinator Anthony Edge picked up the small seedling from the NJ Forestry Service in Mays Landing and on Arbor Day, the tree was planted in the field behind the Ann Pancoast Dog Park. A plaque about the tree has been ordered and will be installed to educate the public of its historical nature.
In addition to the tree planting, the city gave away beach plum and bayberry shrubs, and red maple tree seedlings.
Native purple coneflower and butterfly weed seed packets were also given away to help promote the planting of native pollinator plants to restore the declining butterfly population.
Arbor Day is an internationally recognized day created to promote the conservation and recognition of the benefits of trees. In 1970, President Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday in April Arbor Day.