Effort begins in Lacey Township to regrow Sandy-damaged Atlantic White Cedars

Many huge trees with shallow roots were taken down or damaged by Sandy's powerful winds.

Many huge trees with shallow roots were taken down or damaged by Sandy's powerful winds. (1/17/14)

LACEY TOWNSHIP - Homes, business and even shorelines were no match for Superstorm Sandy, and neither were the towering forests of the Garden State.

Many huge trees with shallow roots were taken down or damaged by Sandy's powerful winds. Rare Atlantic White Cedars at Double Trouble State Park in Lacey toppled over like dominoes and snapped like twigs.

The DEP says New Jersey once had 115,000 acres of the tree and now has fewer than 30,000 acres.

"It blew down about a third of what was standing," says Bill Zipse, of the New Jersey Forestry Service.

The agency says the best way to get the cedars to grow back on the same footprint is to knock down the remaining trees. "We want the trees to be able to grow together," Zipse says. "Otherwise you get hardwoods that come in and can compete with the Atlantic White Cedars and grow over the top of them."

The project to clear the 25 acre site just started. Logger Colin McLaughlin says he can get it done in a month or two. The tops and branches of the trees are being left behind to cover the ground.

The Forestry Service hopes the seeds inside the cones will get sunlight and the right amount of rain to germinate and grow. "It is a species that's kind of been on the decline through the entire eastern seaboard and being so important to water quality and threatened endangered species,it's a species we'd like to protect," Zipse says.

If the conditions are right, regrowth will start popping up in the spring of 2015. The site will be fenced off for years, since young Atlantic White Cedars are like candy to deer.

The logs won't be wasted. They'll be milled into decking, siding, and fencing and some pieces will even be used to carve out decoys for duck hunting.

For extended video on Sandy-damaged forest, watch the clip to the left or click News 12 Extra on Optimum TV channel 612. 

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