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CBTF raising funds to replace trees lost in tornado
First Bank tree donation
First Bank of Coastal Georgia recently donated $3,000 to the Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation to help restore trees lost to the April 5 tornado. Derrick Smith, executive vice president of First Bank of Coastal Georgia recently presented the check to Jackie Montesino, president of CBTF. “We hope this donation will help heal the scars of the deadly tornado and allow the properties to regrow and restore,” Smith said.

The Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation plans to replace some tree canopy in North Bryan lost to the April 5 tornado, which killed one person, injured at least a dozen people and destroyed a number of homes. It also did damage to many trees in Pembroke, Black Creek, Ellabell and Blitchton.

Below is a Q& A with CPTF President Jackie Montesino.

Q: For readers who might not know, what is the Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation, and what is its purpose?

A: The Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation began in 2001 as a volunteer outreach of the Richmond Hill-Bryan County Chamber of Commerce. Today, the Foundation is an IRS 501(c) (3) non-profit environmental education organization with a focus on restoring canopy shade trees to our community. We are supported by contributions from individuals, other non-profits, members of the business community, and by grants from foundations and government sources. Contributions to The Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation are tax deductible. Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation’s dozens of volunteers have planted and cared for over 2,000 trees in Richmond Hill since 2001. You may have seen some of our projects around town. Most recently we have partnered with McAllister Elementary, Frances Meeks Elementary, and Richmond Hill Middle School to beautify their campuses.

Q: What specifically does the CBTF hope to accomplish in regards to helping restore trees in areas affected/effected by the tornado? How much does the CBTF hope to raise, what sorts of trees will be planted.

A: The powerful EF-4 tornado with winds of 185 mph that swept through North Bryan County on April 5th was the strongest to strike the United States this year. The deadly twister stayed on the ground for 14 minutes—taking a life, injuring 12 more and destroying many homes and hundreds of our trees. The Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation has launched an ambitious campaign to help replace the lost trees in Hendrix Park, the Bryan County Courthouse and other affected areas in the path of the storm. Our goal is to be able to raise enough funds to successfully replant all of these areas, as well as provide a tree giveaway for our friends in North Bryan. As always, CBTF aims to use only native species of trees. Those would mainly be the oak variety, as well as Maple, Magnolia, and Crape Myrtle.

Q: When will it happen?

A: Our current fundraising efforts have already begun, and we expect to begin replanting trees this fall. Q: Where in North Bryan do you intend to help replace trees? A: Our main project areas are Hendrix Park, the Bryan County Court House, as well as other hard hit areas, to include assisting residents affected.

Q: Why do it? 

A: Bryan County has seen a tremendous amount of growth in the past decade, as evidenced by census data showing we are the fastest growing county in the state of Georgia, and 6th fastest growing county in the country. Protecting and promoting our communities tree canopy allows us to maintain the beauty and character of Bryan County. Many of our friends in North Bryan chose to live in a more rural area specifically because of its natural beauty, the tree canopy. With the devastation they have suffered, we want to be able to give that back to them. Their lives have been upended in immeasurable ways, and if we can alleviate just one burden for them we want to be able to do that for them.

 Q: How can people help? 

A: The best way for the community to aide us in our efforts at this time is by going to our website and making a tax deductible donation. No amount is too small, as every dollar donated goes directly to the purchase of trees. We are always looking for volunteers to help us! Community members looking to volunteer, whether it be with community events like our annual tree giveaway, or annual oyster roast fundraiser, can do so by going to our website and sending us a message.

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