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Environment: Trees for Tomorrow closes in on goal of 15,000 plantings

By Charles Swenson

A citizens group formed in the wake of Georgetown County’s decision to cut back on tree protection is closing in on its goal of giving away 15,000 trees for planting on Waccamaw Neck and surrounding areas.

Trees for Tomorrow will hold its fifth annual giveaway of seedlings and saplings on Sunday in Litchfield and Murrells Inlet. Rick Baumann, founder of the group, is picking up the dogwoods, redbuds, magnolias and cedars today at the state Forestry Commission nursery in Edgefield. He will keep them in his walk-in cooler at Murrells Inlet Seafood until the Tree Party.

Volunteers will give away the seedlings along with advice on care and planting from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Moe’s Bar-B-Que and the Hot Fish Club.

“I feel that it is vital for folks to realize just how important planting trees is,” Baumann said.

The effort started with one tree: a large oak that was cut down at a home in Murrells Inlet. Georgetown County had changed the tree regulations in its zoning ordinance to exempt single-family homes and County Council failed to adopt a recommendation from the Planning Commission to restore the protection for the iconic trees.

While that was the inspiration, Baumann said the effort was never intended to be political. The goal was to raise awareness of the importance of native species to the local landscape. With a tree grant from Palmetto Pride, the largest ever approved at that point, Trees for Tomorrow held its first Tree Party in 2012.

Baumann expects to give away all the seedlings on Sunday, but if not he has a backup plan to give them to the state parks and historic sites in the area.

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