(Baton Rouge, LA, October 7, 2005) Baton Rouge Green today announced the kick-off of a regional ReLeaf program as part of the hurricane rebuilding effort.
At this event, staff will assist local residents and businesses to select replacement trees for those lost to Hurricane Katrina. Trees natural to each of East Baton Rouge Parish’s five ecological districts will be available. The Baton Rouge area lost over 5,000 trees, while the Louisiana-Mississippi-Tennessee-Texas region an inestimable number. By comparison, Hurricane Andrew, also a Category 5 hurricane, gravely damaged about 25% of the trees in a 70,000-acre span in 1992.
The long-term effects of the massive flooding and increased salinity are still unknown largely due to polluted waters of an unprecedented nature. A 1996 study in Tree Physiology magazine of area Baldcypress seedlings (a native species known as moderately salt-tolerant) found that just 14 weeks of flooding at 2 cm above the soil surface resulted in seedlings 30% shorter, with 56% less leaf area, and 51% less total dry weight.
Ironically, the increased soil pH will ultimately result in more barren conditions. Below a pH level of 3, soil organisms necessary to maintain and grow the soil are killed or become nonfunctional, earthworms no longer aerate the soil, and microorganisms no longer exist to break down organic matter and rock. Thus, the soil is not turned and new soil is not formed. The ground become hard, water runs off, plants dehydrate, growth is stunted, seedlings fail, and soil erodes and washes away.
The rebuilding effort aside, this event is one of dozens of re-greening efforts throughout the country being promoted during October, which has been declared National NeighborWoods Month by the national nonprofit, the Alliance for Community Trees (ACT). Baton Rouge Green is a member of ACT’s NeighborWoods Network.
“It’s great to be working on an important re-greening effort at a time when other organizations are doing so as well,” said Sue Heflin, Executive Director of Baton Rouge Green. “Part of our goal is to draw attention to the good work being done at the grassroots level all across the country to improve urban and community forests.”
NeighborWoods Month is sponsored with a generous grant from The Home Depot Foundation.
Baton Rouge Green’s celebration will take place as follows:
Hurricane Katrina ReLeaf Tree Sale
October 29-30, 2005
LSU Burden Center
Participants: Baton Rouge Green, Mayor’s Office of Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University
“We’re thrilled to have Baton Rouge Green participate in our first-ever NeighborWoods Month,” said ACT Executive Director Alice Ewen Walker. ACT has been in existence since 1993 as a problem-solving center for leaders of community-based urban forestry groups. Its founders share a vision of healthy, functioning urban ecosystems nurtured by a broad base of community stewards. Today, ACT is a growing alliance of 68 nonprofit organizations engaged in urban and community forestry. Its members are dedicated to grassroots community greening, public education, policymaking, job training, environmental design and other activities that support better urban forest stewardship.
Kelly Caffarelli, executive director of The Home Depot Foundation, said “We are excited to partner with ACT on this initiative. Our foundation works with affordable housing and tree planting organizations across the country to promote livable, healthy and affordable communities. This partnership provides a terrific opportunity to further our goals.”
The Home Depot Foundation invests in nonprofit organizations that are in the business of building better communities. The Home Depot and many of the suppliers who help fill the company’s shelves contribute to The Home Depot Foundation to help fulfill their shared vision of creating stronger, healthier neighborhoods. The Foundation focuses its efforts in the areas of affordable, efficient and healthy housing production and rehabilitation and tree planting to restore urban and rural forests. See www.homedepotfoundation.org for more information.
For Immediate Release
October 7, 2005
Baton Rouge Green
Baton Rouge to Kick-off Hurricane ReLeaf/NeighborWoods Event
Sponsored by The Home Depot Foundation