By Ben Wright
Columbus, GA (May 7, 2009)- City crews will be planting large trees today along 13th Street in an effort to restore the area damaged in the April 19 tornado. “We are planting some to fill in,” said Scott Jones, chief of Urban Forestry and Beautification for the city of Columbus. Jones said crews will plant about 20 large trees between 16th and 18th avenues, using a variety of red maples, elms, hornbeam, cedar and others.
At least 200 trees were lost when the tornado roared along the 13th Street corridor, causing damage in Lakebottom, MidTown, and Wynnton. Another 50 trees were damaged in Phenix City. The city doesn’t have enough trees to replace all that were lost, but the new ones will make a difference. “The larger ones will definitely make a difference,” Jones said. “It will look better than it did.”
Dorothy McDaniel, executive director of Trees Columbus Inc., agrees the planting will make a big difference. “For the city to check and find trees, that was a big step.” With water trucks and other equipment, city crews are trained and prepared to plant large trees quickly and efficiently, McDaniel said. “It’s especially important to replace tree canopy along Weracoba Creek in order to prevent erosion, sedimentation, and further degradation of water quality,” she said.
Trees Columbus, a nonprofit organization that works to plant, preserve and protect trees, will not plant more trees until the fall and winter, McDaniel said. At least three other groups or individuals have stepped forward to help. Gary Bruce, a member of Trees Columbus, recently won the Spring for the Green raffle to support the organization. Bruce declined the $10,000 prize and the money now goes to help Trees Columbus. “He is the first one to decline the prize,” she said. Jackson-Burgin Inc. is donating a dozen oaks to the group to plant in Dinglewood Park in the fall. Boy Scouts of Troop 6 have offered to help Trees Columbus plant and water trees.
During a visit to the parks earlier this week, McDaniel said she found that most of the trees planted during the spring survived. “Most seem to be in very good condition,” McDaniel said of the 23 trees planted by the group and more than 50 by the city crews. Many of the young trees looked as though they are going to make it, McDaniel said. “They have a decided lean,” she said. “We will have to fix that.” She also noted the sloped area near Dinglewood Park needs more cleanup before tree planting gets under way. The city safely removed most fallen trees with a minimum of damage to trees that survived the storm.
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer: Crews to plant 20 trees today to restore area damaged by tornado