FirstEnergy Corp. brought the power recently to Hunterdon Land Trust’s Dvoor Farm, helping plant 350 trees as part of our Walnut Brook stream restoration project.

Thirteen FirstEnergy employees — members of its Green Team and Women in Leadership program — along with several HLT volunteers spent several hours on Nov. 3 planting trees in the riparian corridor beside the stream. The trees, ranging in height from one to three feet, were supported by posts and covered with plastic tubes to protect them from hungry deer.

FirstEnergy donated all the trees, tubes and posts for the project.

The Walnut Brook stream restoration project aims to mitigate flooding at the Dvoor Farm and for its downstream neighbors. It will stabilize the brook’s banks from erosion, create several vernal pools to better manage stormwater flow, and support the wildlife for years to come.

“This was an important next step after the stream restoration construction work was completed earlier this fall; the trees and shrubs we planted will expand the riparian corridor and therefore improve stream health, in addition to increasing biodiversity and providing crucial food and shelter for native wildlife,” said Emily Dunn, HLT’s stewardship program manager.

The native trees and shrubs planted were silver maple, Alleghany serviceberry, silky dogwood, spicebush, sweetgum, red chokeberry, sycamore, white oak, swamp white oak, and highbush blueberry.

“I was thrilled that we were able to accomplish all that we did on Thursday,” Dunn added. “Planting 350 trees and shrubs is no small task, but the FirstEnergy volunteers as well as our HLT volunteers were motivated and enthusiastic.”

“FirstEnergy is committed to environmental stewardship and supporting the communities we serve,” the company noted. “Tree canopies have diminished significantly in the recent years, especially in lower income areas. FirstEnergy Green Teams, which focus on supporting sustainable initiatives, have joined forces with our Forestry personnel to manage our tree-planting program.”

The company’s Women in Leadership program aims to develop current and future women leaders for senior management positions and addresses the challenges of work-life balance.

As part of this effort, HLT staff, board members, and volunteers recently held a workday at the farm. Our team installed live stakes – live cuttings from dogwood trees that, when installed in a streambank, will take root and grow into new trees over time.

Live stakes are a cost-effective and efficient way to reinforce and stabilize streambanks, in addition to enhancing wildlife habitat and biodiversity, Dunn noted.

These native trees, including silky dogwoods and red osier dogwoods, were obtained through a generous grant from Washington Crossing Audubon Society.

“It’s truly amazing what we can accomplish by working together,” said Jacqueline Middleton, HLT’s interim executive director. “We are so grateful to FirstEnergy and our volunteers, who worked so hard to make this happen.”