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BES tree planting kicks off urban forestry program

Students at Brookhaven Elementary School kick-started a nationaltree planting program Monday that combines urban and commercialforestry.

“We’ll be promoting it nationwide,” said Donna Yowell, executivedirector of the Mississippi Urban Forest Council, a non-profitorganization that advocates sustainable urban forestry.

The program is funded by a $20,000 grant from The Home DepotFoundation and is designed to develop urban forestry, providepublic educational programs on commercial and urban forestry and toplant trees in communities with the vision to reduce future stormdamage, Yowell said.

A number of county and city organizations assist with theprogram.

The trees planted at Brookhaven Elementary included loblollypines donated by the Mississippi Forestry Commission and shumardoaks donated by the Alabama Forestry Commission. The two forestrycommissions donated more than 900 trees in total for theprogram.

Volunteers with Keep Brookhaven Beautiful and Keep LincolnCounty Beautiful joined the MUFC and MFC Monday in assisting thestudents, who planted five live oaks along the front of the school.At Fannie Mullins School, the organizations also replaced aBradford Pear tree that was lost when Hurricane Katrina stormedthrough the area Aug. 29.

Tree replacement is an important part of the program, Yowellsaid.

Shirley Estes, a volunteer with several local beautificationprograms, said a lot of the trees lost in the storm were plantedmore than century ago. Although the public has enjoyed their shadefor years, they were at the end of their lifespan and not capableof withstanding the high winds.

The proper type of trees placed properly can mitigate a lot ofstorm damage, she said.

“The purpose now is to plant the right trees in the rightplace,” Estes said.

Yowell agreed.

“Trees planted in the right place in Brookhaven add to propertyvalues and the charm and character of this community,” she said.”The program will ensure that the right tree is planted in theright place to enhance the town and reduce future stormdamage.”

The project will also establish a local tree nursery to providea source of trees for public planting in future years.

It was inspired by a national effort to highlight the valuablerole of family tree farms and sustainable urban forestry throughoutthe United States, Yowell said.

Only 2 percent of the national population own a family tree farmand that number is declining rapidly. In some way, more than 80percent of the population of Lincoln County is involved in the treefarm business, she said.

A series of activities involving Brookhaven citizens and countytree farmers will be conducted during the next year, Yowell said,with the results of the partnership to be promoted as a model forother communities throughout the U.S.