Newly-planted trees adorn city’s landscape
About 40 environmentally conscious citizens showed up in the light snow Saturday morning to help the Jacksonville Tree Commission plant 15 trees near the old Eastwood School and the skate park near Kitty Stone Elementary School.

Volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 19, the Earth Club at Jacksonville State University, the city, the community and the Historical Association were on hand. They planted dogwoods, red maples, red buds, longleaf pines and bald cypress.

The trees planted near the old Eastwood School are primarily understory trees for flowers that will provide color for the area. Some of the trees planted at the skate park replaced some that didn’t make it through the drought or the summer.

Troop 19 leader Mike Cole believes it was a good opportunity for the scouts to earn their science merit badges and possibly forestry merit badges.

Boy Scout Brad Gibson, a sixth-grader at Kitty Stone, said he had a lot of fun. “When I first got there I was really cold, but when I started working I got warmer. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be.”

Rev. Truman Norred led in prayer before the planting began.

Rev. Norred explained that as a member of Tree City USA, the city has to meet certain requirements, and having a Tree Commission and Arbor Day tree give-away, are two of them.

“This is the third year we’ve done this, and every year we accomplish what we set out to do,” he said.

Slideshow: Jacksonville Tree Commission Plants 15 Trees

Seven members of JSU’s Earth Club were present. President Kristen Carlisle said that planting a few trees adds a lot to the community. The club helps raise money for the field school at Little River Canyon and last year helped raise funds for a well in Niger.

The Earth Club will sponsor Arbor Day on the lawn of the International House at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 21. Earth Day will be celebrated from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 4 on the campus.

Joseph Munster, Jacksonville Historical Commission member, said he was there to help beautify another historical property in Jacksonville.

“We’ve been working on the Dr. Francis Museum and the tree planting came up, so we thought it was a good idea to get involved in it,” he said. “Eastwood School is on the National Historical Register, and we’re trying to get the entire neighborhood on it.”

The Tree Commission, which is tasked with watching over the resources of the city on its public lands, has been gearing up for some time for the annual tree give-away on Arbor Day from 3-5 p.m. Feb. 22 on the square. Citizens are invited to the square at that time to pick up free trees, complete with information on how, when and where to plant them.

“We’ll hand out brochures explaining everything,” said commission chairman Kenny Griffin. “We don’t want people going off planting a 100 foot tree under a power line and have to come back and dig it up years later. Some of these trees we’ll never get to see but our children and grandchildren will get to.”

Also, sometime this week  the JSU horticultural staff and city staff from the streets and recreation departments will team up for the first time to plant nine crepe myrtles near the train depot.
© 2013