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Replant South Mississippi makes free trees available for Pearl River County

Free native trees will be available for both public and private properties this winter through the Replant South Mississippi Program.

Replant South Mississippi is a partnership between the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain and the Sun Herald, with funding assistance from the Mississippi Forestry Commission, the Home Depot Foundation, and other sources. The purpose of the partnership is to restore the tree canopy greatly damaged by Hurricane Katrina, working together to enhance the public view and diversify the urban forest across the six southern counties of Mississippi.

The partnership will work with local communities to create a plan and to provide fast-growing native trees for public spaces, as well as privately owned lands with public views. The plan includes the creation of an education program about the importance of trees and their care and will monitor plantings to ensure long term success. Replant South Mississippi is working with local communities to leave a legacy of urban forests for future generations.

The foundation was created on Feb. 9, 2006 by the Sun Herald and the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain. Its mission is to replace thousands of trees lost when Hurricane Katrina struck South Mississippi Aug. 29, 2005. The goal of the foundation is to replant 300,000 trees in three years in the six coastal counties.

Beginning in November, three-gallon size native trees will be available for planting in Pearl River County. The trees are grown using the Root Production Method, a patented process that creates faster growth, higher survivability, earlier fruit, nut and seed production and greater root biomass. Varieties that will be available from November through November are box elder, red maple, seedling pecans, tulip poplar, water tupelo, black gum, Chickasaw plum, 10 varieties of oaks, bald cypress, red buckeye, pawpaw, fringe tree, bigleaf magnolia and deciduous holly. Live oaks, American holly and southern magnolia will not be available this year, but will be available in the 2008-2009 planting season. For information about the RPM trees, contact Julia Anderson, Pearl River County Department of Planning and Development at HYPERLINK mailto:janderson@pearlrivercounty.net, janderson@pearlrivercounty.net or by calling 601-403-2561.

In addition, the Mississippi Urban Forest Council is providing 12 hours of free urban forestry training on Nov. 1 and 2 at Pearl River Community College. The training will cover topics such as site/tree selection, tree maintenance, tree protection and proper methods of planting trees. There will be a giveaway of free tree seedlings. To get information about the training, contact Becky Askew, PRCC, HYPERLINK mailto:raskew@prcc.edu, raskew@prcc.edu or call 601-403-1318, or Donna Yowell, MS Urban Forest Council at HYPERLINK mailto:dyowell@aol.com, dyowell@aol.com or call 601-672-0755.

Trees improve air and water quality, reduce flooding, reduce cooling and heating energy needs, increase property values and improve quality of life for people around them. Crime rates are lower in areas with many trees, and businesses that provide tree shaded parking in summer experience 10 percent more shoppers than businesses that don’t have shaded parking.

The Mississippi Forestry Commission estimates that 1.5 million trees were damaged by Katrina and that a half million were destroyed across the state. The six southernmost counties suffered most of the losses, especially to large oak and pine trees. An excess of 300,000 trees were killed by Katrina or by the rebuilding in its aftermath in those six counties. Smart growth in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is critical, especially in rural areas where unprecedented growth is taking place. The loss of most trees in rural areas since Katrina is not being caused by wind or water but by growth and development.