Cleveland gets tree tips from Ringgold

By Randall Higgins

Cleveland, TN (December 14, 2011)- Just two months after the April 27 tornadoes churned through Ringgold, Ga., a group of residents joined restoration efforts by organizing a tree planting for fall. David Dunn, public defender for North Georgia’s Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit, told the Cleveland Tree Board on Tuesday how Trees For Ringgold was formed and how the idea can be adapted here.

He said the group began by working with Ringgold on appearance standards and rebuilding. “Then we sat back and thought, ‘We don’t want to stop, so what can we do now?’ Well, we have groups building houses back up. We have groups providing aid and feeding the hungry. So what can we do?”

The storm had altered Ringgold’s appearance by knocking down large numbers of trees, some of them more than 100 years old. Dunn said there will be another tree distribution to Ringgold homeowners in February in time for prime tree planting. Trees For Ringgold provides trees for private property because city government cannot, he said. Instead, the city works with the Georgia Forestry Commission to plant on public property.

Dunn also discussed fundraising, a process for the public to request trees, recruiting volunteers and organizing the effort. Volunteers and donations came from residents, churches and businesses including Home Depot, Eli Lilly and Ace Hardware, he said. “Every time we saw a need, somebody stepped up to the plate and fixed it,” Dunn said.

“I’m just blown away with how much organization they have and how quickly they did it,” said Jan Cheek, chairwoman of the Cleveland Tree Board. On another topic, the board heard Allan Gentry, head of Cleveland State Community College’s technology department, review progress toward creating graduation certificates that emphasize sustainability. “It is somewhat like when students graduate with honors,” Gentry said.

Whatever curriculum students are in, their diploma would have some kind of notice that they studied and did projects emphasizing sustainability for the environment, he said.

Related Resource:
Times Free Press- Cleveland gets tree tips from Ringgold
Storms Over the Urban Forest- Part I: Natural Hazard Management Planning
Storms Over the Urban Forest- Part II: Post-Event Response