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Historic Oak Tree Gets County Protection

Agreement prevents tree from being cut down for its natural life, Puffin Foundation says.

The 250-year-old red oak tree at the corner of Palisade Avenue and Cedar Lane will be conserved until its natural death and maintained by the county parks department, the Puffin Foundation announced Thursday.

Under the agreement,  a conservation easement was granted preventing any development to the area immediately around the historic oak, according to Perry Rosenstien, president of the Puffin Foundation.  The Foundation donated an undisclosed amount of money to finance the easement and the agreement with current property owner Congregation Netivot Shalom, Rosenstien said. 

“The tree will die a natural death, but it will not be cut down,” he said. “We like to think of it as an endangered species.”

Martin Sarver, an attorney for the Puffin Foundation, said the agreement protects a portion of the lot.

In a press release, the Puffin Foundation said the tree survived through some of Teaneck’s most historic moments dating back to when the Lenape Native Americans inhabited the area. 

Crews working for the Bergen County Parks Department recently trimmed some of its branches, but the tree is healthy, Rosenstien said.

“The tree is in good shape,” he said.

The agreement would seem to end a long-running effort to save the oak.  A decision in early 2010 by the former property, the Union for Traditional Judaism, to cut down the tree sparked controversy.  Tree experts brought in by the township contended the tree could be saved with proper care, while the UTJ cited safety concerns.

After protests from community members, the land was sold. 

Last October, . The massive tree is the fourth-largest red oak in New Jersey, according to the list. 

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