DeSoto County expands role in Urban Forestry

By Chris Van Tuyl
Horn Lake, MS (April 24, 2010)- Mississippi Urban Forest Council Executive Director Donna Yowell had her share of microphone time at Thursday night’s Urban Forestry and Green Development awards ceremony at Horn Lake’s historic Mon Amour. And away from the mike, Yowell was quick to share her thoughts and praise the overall effect of the annual green conference, which concluded Friday.

“This is the first time we’ve come this far north to do a statewide conference,” she said, “and Horn Lake and DeSoto County have been fantastic hosts. They’ve actually gone above and beyond the kind of event we normally have. “Hopefully we’ve been able to provide some information and knowledge to the community- to help them in their greenways project and their green endeavors.”
Entergy’s announcement of a $100,000 grant to aid the development of the Johnson Creek Trail was a perfect complement to the festivities. “It’s a good way for us to celebrate what is the largest environmental grant we’ve ever made,” Entergy Manager of External Affairs Liz Brister said. “We actually made the decision to support it several months ago, but (Earth Day) seemed like the right time to announce it.”
Said Entergy Vice President of Customer Operations John Mullins: “We’re very passionate about education, and this fits well under our children having a place to go, a place to learn- a place to where instead of reading a book, they can literally go there, physically touch and be part of history.” The project begins close to the Mississippi River and traverses eastward for about 10 miles to near Tulane Road. It covers about 100 acres of open fields, wetlands, hardwood trees and farmland. Residents can expect both walking and equestrian trails, as well as bike paths.
With the majority of the conference being inside at the former Dover Building, organizers, including retired Horn Lake Director of Planning Anita Rainey, did their homework on securing Mon Amour and its picturesque 60 acres. “What’s the best way to get people to really appreciate nature? Get them outdoors,” she said. “God blessed us with this beautiful weather. It’s a beautiful piece of land with beautiful trees on it.”
The awards portion, labeled the 2010 Celebration of Trees, featured Sacred Heart in Southaven earning the Green School Award. Winning Outstanding Green Development was Plein Air. The Oxford-based neighborhood was represented by Campbell McCool.
“It’s always nice when you have a developer step up and say, ‘I want to get recognition from green development,'” Yowell said. “That’s always a surprise, because a lot of times, they’re running from that. That’s a really, really good sign and I know that DeSoto County has a lot of developers like that also.”
The topics and speakers further continued to make this a worthwhile experience for everyone in attendance. According to Rainey, just over 70 arrived on Wednesday. “We tried to bring to the table a lot of new technology on i-Tree, UFORE and those sort things,” said Yowell, “and empowering local communities. Of course, Horn Lake has a great team. So does Hernando, Southaven and Olive Branch. A lot of the communities up here in this urban sprawl area of Memphis are already very progressive with urban forestry.”
Related Resources:
DeSoto County expands role in Urban Forestry
DeSoto Times Tribune- Entergy grant to enhance green project
Mississippi Urban Forest Council