In commemoration of Georgia Arbor Day, Coastal Bryan Tree Foundation volunteers will plant trees on Saturday, March 1 at the new Henderson Park.
Wendy Bolton, president of the foundation, said this is the seventh year the group has hosted a planting event.
"The numbers of trees we’ve planted have varied from year to year," she said. "We started out planting about 30 and some years we’ve done as many as 100. Our goal is to plant 100 trees this year, but we’re going to plant half now and half in the fall, after our fundraiser in April."
By year end, foundation volunteers will have planted an estimated total of 400 trees, predominantly live oaks, in Richmond Hill.
Bolton said the live oaks, Georgia’s state tree, are synonymous with the coastal south.
"They are an important part of our heritage," she said. "Generations before ours knew the importance of creating a legacy of trees, and we owe it to future generations to continue that visionary effort."
Until now, most of the trees have been planted along Ford Avenue, in J.F. Gregory Park and near the schools.
"I think it’s a wonderful program and I appreciate what they’ve done in the city," Mayor Richard Davis said. "It’s a good gesture on their part to plant trees where people in the community are, so it’s a great benefit."
This year, the group expects to plant 100 trees in the new Henderson Park, creating a canopy of oaks along the entrance off Hwy. 144. Bolton said they are looking forward to having a presence in the county and County Administrator Phil Jones agreed.
"We really appreciate the group for selecting the park for this year’s planting," Jones said. "We think it will greatly benefit the general appearance of the ride into Henderson Park and, farther down the line in the long-term, it’ll create a great atmosphere. We think it’s going to be terrific and we appreciate them volunteering their time to do it."
Bolton said the event has repeatedly had a great volunteer response from the community, especially among school children.
"Chris Flake is always instrumental in getting the word out in the schools" Bolton said. "We’ve had help from kids who participate in a number of different school clubs. Last year, I think we had around 30 kids, but it varies depending on what’s going on."
Flake, the curriculum resource teacher at Richmond Hill Elementary School, said students from the RHHS Art Club, Interact Club and National Honor Society will be helping out this year.
"We’ve had a quite a few children involved in the past and the kids truly have enjoyed getting involved," Flake said. "It’s also a way for them to earn volunteer hours."
Bolton said the presence of trees plays an important role in both the environment and the community.
"We can’t pick up a newspaper or turn on the television without hearing about carbon emissions and their effect on the environment. While there still seems to be a great deal of controversy on this subject, the one thing we know emphatically is that trees filter carbon dioxide, store carbon and release oxygen. Based on this fact alone, their importance to the environment is immense," she said. "We’re lucky to live in a community that’s growing and sometimes the price you pay for that is canopy loss and we’re trying to mitigate that."
Carole Brogdon, foundation treasurer, said the plantings require a lot of work from volunteers and donations to the organization go right back to the local residents.
"Donations to the foundation are used to purchase and to care for the trees. One hundred percent of the proceeds from our annual fundraiser, The Root Ball, go directly back to the community" she said.
Anyone interested in helping should meet at Henderson Park at 8:30 a.m. and, if possible, bring a shovel. The park is located on Highway 144 across from Burnt Church cemetery. Lunch will be provided for volunteers.
For more information about the planting or the upcoming Root Ball call Wendy Bolton at 727-2544, or visit the foundation’s web site at www.coastalbryantreefoundation.org.