The Hunterdon County Shade Tree Commission held its 5th annual Arbor Day ceremony on Friday April 30, 2004 at 12 Noon at the new Hunterdon County Fairgrounds, located on Rt. 179, just south of its junction with Rt. 202 in East Amwell, NJ.
The ceremony was sponsored by the Commission, Hunterdon County Department of Parks & Recreation and the Hunterdon County Soil Conservation District. The tree planting was held to recognize the 132nd anniversary of Arbor Day. The Commission, Soil Conservation District and Department of Parks & Recreation distributed free white pine, Douglas fur, Norway spruce and Colorado Blue spruce pine seedlings to all who attended. The event was free and open to the public. The Commission was joined at the ceremony by Hunterdon County Freeholder Director, Marcia A. Karrow and Freeholder Member, Nancy Palladino. See below for photos from the event.
The Commission chose the new County Fairgrounds this year as the site to commemorate Arbor Day to plant trees in different parts of Hunterdon County and to contribute to the implementation of the Fairgrounds landscape plan. The new 43-acre County Fairgrounds is the premier section of the South County Park, an emerging general use Hunterdon County park facility, with additional adjacent properties slated for acquisition, in East Amwell and West Amwell Townships. A pin oak (pictured above) has been chosen as the tree species that was planted to celebrate Arbor Day and to begin the process of implementing the landscape plan for the new County Fairgrounds property, as previously approved and funded by the Board of Chosen Freeholders. The pin oak or Quercus palustris is native to the Eastern United States and is probably the most widely used native oak for landscaping and streetscapes. It is one of the fastest growing oaks and grows 12-15 feet per year over a 5- 7 year period thus making it a short lived tree as they rarely live to more than 100 years old. The name pin refers to plentiful, slender twigs, which end up as pin-like knots in the wood thus causing it to be one of least likely trees to be used for lumber.
The idea for Arbor Day originally came from the state of Nebraska. On January 4, 1872, J. Sterling Morton, who was a lover of nature, proposed a tree-planting holiday to be called "Arbor Day" at a meeting of the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture. Arbor Day was officially designated a holiday in 1949 by the New Jersey state legislature. Today the most common date for the state observances is the last Friday in April, and several U.S. presidents have proclaimed a national Arbor Day on that date. Arbor Day has now spread beyond the United States and is observed in many countries of the world. (Please see the Hunterdon County Board of Chosen Freeholder's Proclamation for Arbor Day 2004 for additional information)