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Residents snap up trees to replace Katrina losses

Nearly 4,700 trees were given away Monday at the MississippiForestry Commission in a program designed to replace trees lostduring Hurricane Katrina.

“I got several different types of oak,” said Leanne McCaffery,of Brookhaven. “We’re really excited to get some hardwoods growingagain. We lost a lot of them to Hurricane Katrina.”

McCaffery said she chose to take home between 30 to 40 trees toplant on the family’s 120-acre homestead.

“I’m anxious to get these in the ground,” she said.

Barbara Buie, of Bogue Chitto, said she chose a variety of 15trees to plant in open acreage in her yard.

“This will really help. We’ve been looking for trees to putthere,” she said.

The event was sponsored by the Mississippi Urban Forest Council,a non-profit organization that advocates sustainable urbanforestry.

“This turned out well,” said Donna Yowell, executive director ofthe MUFC.

People who accepted trees Monday should plant them immediatelyin a wet area because it is near the end of tree-planting season,Yowell said. In cases where they cannot be planted in the next fewdays, she recommended potting the trees until November, when thefall tree-planting season begins.

“The best thing to do is containerize and babysit them untilNovember when conditions are better,” Yowell said. “The next fewmonths can be dry, so they need to be kept moist.”

The program is partially funded by a $20,000 grant from The HomeDepot Foundation and is designed to develop urban forestry, provideeducational programs to the public on commercial and urban forestryand to plant trees in communities with the vision to reduce futurestorm damage, Yowell said.

A majority of the trees given away Monday were donated by theforestry commissions of Mississippi and Alabama.

“We have another 15,000 coming in next week and will probablyhave another giveaway the week after Mother’s Day,” Yowellsaid.

A majority of the trees, however, will be diverted to recoveryefforts on the coast. Roughly one-third be available for free here,she said.

“Many of the oaks we’re getting are native to Mississippi, butare not native to the coast – so that is a determining factor,”Yowell said.

Trees not native to the coast are given away in areas moreinland, like Brookhaven, she said.

Brookhaven is the only area outside of the coast presentlyparticipating in the program, Yowell said. Giveaways in other areasmay be added when the batch of 15,000 arrives.