Verizon to Plant More Than 1,000 Native Trees and Shrubs at Its Freehold, N.J., Office Location

Over the past decade, hundreds of native trees have replaced the ornamental shrubs and invasive vegetation at Verizon's corporate headquarters in Basking Ridge. Chemically treated and meticulously manicured lawns have given way to native grasses and vibrant wildflowers.

Now, Verizon is gearing up to do it again - beginning Wednesday (Oct. 12) in Freehold.

Verizon is partnering with the New Jersey Audubon Society and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to plant more than 1,000 trees and shrubs at Verizon's 22-acre office location off Gravel Hill Road, near Route 537.  This is part of a project in which Verizon has already implemented restoration of native grasslands and riparian areas on the property.

"Companies like Verizon don't have to leave enormous footprints on our environment," said Samuel Delgado, vice president of external affairs for Verizon New Jersey.  "In fact, Verizon's goal is to make the least possible environmental impact and to thoughtfully recreate at our facilities a natural habitat for native vegetation and animal species."

Creating a scrub-shrub habitat through removal of invasive vegetation and planting a mix of native shrubs can benefit numerous migratory birds, such as the field sparrow, willow flycatcher, prairie warbler, and yellow-breasted chat.  Establishing dense native vegetation along the stream can also improve local water quality. 

The initiative has also included the planting of native warm-season grasses to benefit grassland-dependent birds and pollinators, and scaling back mowing. Verizon has also installed nesting boxes to attract bluebirds, tree swallows, screech owls, wood ducks and kestrels.

"The New Jersey Audubon Society applauds Verizon as a national leader showcasing real, meaningful wildlife conservation on private lands," said Eric Stiles, vice president of conservation of the Audubon Society. "Native grasslands and monarchs are replacing the industrial chemical cocktail lawns of the 20th century.

"We hope other companies take notice and follow suit on their corporate campuses. It would be good for the environment and healthier for their communities. It also lowers their operation costs, and it's fun for their employees," Stiles said.

A few years ago, Verizon began a 10-year partnership with the New Jersey Audubon Society ??and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a habitat restoration project at the company's 135-acre Operations Center in Basking Ridge. That property borders the Passaic River, adjacent to a portion of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, a federally owned preserve of more than 7,000 acres operated by the Fish and Wildlife Service.  The New Jersey Governor's Office awarded Verizon in 2007 the Governor's Environmental Excellence in the "Healthy Ecosystems" category.

"Verizon's corporate campus is now full of life," said John Parke, the Audubon Society's stewardship project director for northern New Jersey. "Grassland-dependent birds like the Savannah sparrow, bobolink, meadowlark and field sparrow have returned. Colonies of purple martins nest on the property. There are turtles and reptiles. Native wildflowers like black-eyed Susan, milkweed and butterfly weed can be found. It's been an amazing transformation.

"Although it is a much smaller site, habitat restoration at Verizon's Freehold campus promises to be just as successful and just as beneficial to wildlife and to the entire community," Parke added.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, NASDAQ:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, with more than 106 million total connections nationwide.  Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 196,000 and last year generated consolidated revenues of $106.6 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.