S.P. to Start Program to Recognize Trees
The town of Southern Pines will launch a program Friday -- Arbor Day -- that will recognize trees based on size, history and uniqueness.
During the annual Arbor Day ceremony at 1 p.m. this Friday, the town will officially announce a "TREEmendous" program and hand out brochures with information on how to nominate a tree.
The ceremony will be held behind the Southern Pines Public Library, and participants will take part in the planting of an oak tree.
"The point is to raise awareness about the trees in Southern Pines," says Gregg Davis, building and grounds superintendent for the town of Southern Pines. "We have very old trees here that have been allowed to grow and mature."
The Southern Pines Appear-ance Commission, together with the town's Buildings and Grounds Department, are inviting the public to take part in the program by nominating trees on either public or private property for recognition.
"It's a way to give significance to these trees, and get people to appreciate the beauty of what they have," said Vince Zuchinno, chair of the Southern Pines Appearance Commission.
Zuchinno and Davis were part of a group that attended a meeting of the regional Triangle J Council to find out about Wake County's tree program. Inspired by the meeting, they decided to bring the program to Southern Pines. TREEmendous Trees is one part of the Tree Awareness program run by Davis, who received a grant to work on raising awareness about trees.
Tree specialists, including arborists, landscape architects and other professionals, will evaluate each tree and verify whether or not it will become a part of the system. This "tree jury" will bestow multiple awards in four categories, which are "Champion Trees," "Historic Trees," "Landmark Trees," and "Meritorious Trees."
"Champion Tree" nominations are judged on size. The tree must equal or exceed 75 percent of the measurements of the current state champion tree of the same species.
"Historic Tree" nominees must be at least 50 years old, and be directly associated with a significant historic event or location. Groups of trees, such as stands of longleaf pines or peach orchards are eligible for awards in the "Landmark Trees" category.
Trees with a variety of characteristics may qualify for the "Meritorious Trees" category. Examples include trees planted at a special event, such as a town bicentennial, or trees with outstanding color form and function.
The jury may also award individuals or organizations that have made superior efforts in planting or nurturing trees.
Brochures are available at the Southern Pines town offices, at the Park and Recreation Department located in the Campbell House, and at the town's welcome center.
Anyone who knows of a tree that has some special quality or even emotional importance can contact Davis to obtain a nomination form. Forms should be turned in to the Southern Pines Building and Grounds office.
Eventually, the program will publish a booklet, listing the award-winning trees with photos and data, as well as creating a database on the Southern Pines town Web site, which will provide an inventory of the trees.
Recognized trees do not receive any sort of legislative protection. But Zuchinno said he hopes that increasing public awareness will prompt people to take a stand when a tree needs protecting.
"If the trees are threatened, if someone is looking at cutting them down," Zuchinno said, "we'll have a public record of the trees' importance to the town to show them."
Contact Laura Eddy by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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