The Bonsal de Montclair reserve obtains 254 trees thanks to Clifton


Trees are waiting to be planted at the entrance to the Daniels Promenade in the Bonsal Preserve on November 17. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR LOCAL MONTCLAIR)

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Clifton began a tree and vegetation replacement project on the Alonzo F. Bonsal reserve just across its border in Montclair, after cutting vegetation on the property in 2018 to replace its sewer line .

“The Friends of Bonsal have worked for 20 years to resolve the issues we have faced with the failing Clifton sewer line. This restoration project is the culmination of that effort, ”said Jonathan Grupper, member of the Friends group, on his behalf. “Almost 300 trees and shrubs and over 8,000 square feet of native grasses are a big improvement for a small reserve.”

In May 2018, Clifton felled 30 trees on the 21-acre property to replace and relocate an 80-year-old sewer line that runs under the property and serves Clifton’s residences near the reservation. Later that year, the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission cut dozens more.

Montclair has owned the reserve since the 1970s, when a group of residents lobbied to save the forest from development. The Bonsal Reserve was named after a local resident whose family contribution increased Green Acres funding for the purchase of the site. The urban reserve consists of wetlands and uplands surrounding the Third River, a major tributary of the lower Passaic River watershed.

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After the Friends of Bonsal Preserve, the group that oversees and defends the property, lobbied the city to restore the property following the year-long sewer line project, Clifton officials agreed to dedicate $ 240,000 to plant trees and grasses.

From left to right, Bony Ramirez, Jose Poma and Evan Widner planted a tree in the ground on November 17th. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR LOCAL MONTCLAIR)

Last week, Clarke Moynihan Landscaping crews were scattered around the reserve with hole-digging machines and trucks filled with tall, ball-bound trees and native grasses.

Of the four bids for the project collected by Clifton, Clarke Moynihan Landscaping was the lowest bidder, amounting to $ 239,851. The restoration includes the purchase and planting of 254 trees and shrubs, and the planting of a lowland grassland seed mix.

In 2001, the Clifton sewer line burst and the city was able to repair it with minimal damage to flora. But during repairs in 2008, 10 trees had to be razed. At the time, Montclair was promised to replace these trees, but the trees had not been planted until now.

Ten years later, the city embarked on a $ 5 million sewer line replacement and relocation project, but other trees that hindered construction were cut down. Clifton Town Manager Dominick Villano, however, sought out new technology that would allow for a more respectful approach to preservation. The city used horizontal directional drilling, with pipelines installed in underground tunnels and on the edge of the reserve. Without this new technology, greater deforestation could have
happened, according to Grupper.

In 2018, during a meeting at the Montclair municipal building, the Friends learned that for every tree felled – including those felled in 2008 – Clifton would install 10 new trees.

Last week, teams were planting white oaks, northern red oaks, maple leaves, Appalachian dogwoods, American beeches, white oaks, tulip trees, red and white maples, and red buds of the ‘East. Seeds of spice bushes and meadow grasses are also being planted as part of the project. All trees and plants are native, Grupper added.

“We especially like Clifton City Manager Nick Villano, who had the vision to make the whole business come true, ambitious as it is. Thanks to them, we have a whole new life, ”said Grupper.

In July 2018, a few months after the city razed all 30 candies, the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission also slashed several dozen. Part of the board’s many-mile system, which supplies more than 100 million gallons of water per day to nearly 3 million people, runs through the basement through the reserve.

The Friends group assesses the total commission reduction at 70, although at the time the commission’s executive director Tim Eustace described it as a little less – 35 on the Bonsal property itself and 30 others on an easement that the commission has through the reserve.

Eustace had said deforestation was necessary due to damage to the roots of the pipes, as well as liability and safety concerns.

The North Jersey District Water Supply Commission received a notice of violation from the state for improper notification and authorization. Due to Green Acres funding for the reserve, its wildlife habitat, and protected wetland status, the Department of Environmental Protection should have been made aware of the commission’s tree cutting plan. water.

He has since completed a remediation plan that included planting herbs as well as blueberries and rosewood bushes along the river. No tree was replaced.

Grubber said none of the bushes survived and they are now overrun with knotweed and other invasive species.

Eustace has yet to return an email from November 18 asking if the commission plans to restore these areas and replace the dead bushes.

The state regulates and requires permits for the destruction of plant life, which would alter the character of a freshwater wetland, including the destruction of vegetation by applying herbicides or by other means, l ‘physical removal of vegetation from wetlands and / or tree cutting and construction of structures in freshwater wetlands.


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