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Service marks tree planting at arts school

State forestry and transportation officials and MississippiSchool of the Arts staff and students Tuesday celebrated thededication of more than 250 trees that have been planted on theschool campus.

A $14,850 USDA Forest Service grant was used to develop an UrbanForestry Plan for the 251 trees, and a $15,000 MississippiTransportation Enhancement grant was used to plant the trees andimplement the plan. Both grants were administered through theMississippi Forestry Commission (MFC).

Combined with matching funds from the Mississippi School of theArts Foundation, MSA Executive Director Dr. Vicki Bodenhamer saidthe total project was $55,560.

“Through state support and community support, this cost nothingto the Department of Education or the Mississippi School of theArts,” Bodenhamer said.

Walter Passmore, MFC community assistance forester, said thecommission appreciated the opportunity to partner with the artsschool and MDOT to bring the trees to the campus.

“We hope this project will provide inspiration to arts studentsas they go about their daily business,” Passmore said.

Passmore said tree grants are about enriching and making livesbetter in local communities. Each year, he said, 13-to-16communities receive grants and over 2,000 trees are planted throughthe funded projects.

Later in Tuesday’s ceremony, officials marked the planting of amemorial long life pine tree. Passmore said the tree was symbolicof the history of southwest Mississippi and the partnership thatresulted in the tree planting.

“Forestry is very important and vital to Lincoln County,” saidBennie Hutchins, president of the Lincoln County ForestryAssociation.

Hutchins said there are over 50 forests and related industriesthat employ over 500 people in the county. There are 40 certifiedtree farms in the county, he said.

Southern District Transportation Commissioner Wayne Brown saidtransportation enhancement funds are included in the federallegislation to soften the appearance of interstates and otherroadways and to improve the transportation experience. He said thestate was delighted to have a part in helping to plant trees onarts school campus.

“I can think of no better way to spend those funds than to planttrees for urban forests,” Brown said.