021617 News for Pawleys Island, Litchfield and Murrells Inlet
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Environment: After plantings, group will put down roots as nonprofit

By Nikki Best
COASTAL OBSERVER

Cornus. Juniperus Virginiana. Cersis Canadensis. Magnolia Grandiflora.

Better known as dogwood, eastern red cedar, eastern redbud and southern magnolia, the copse took center stage at the Trees for Tomorrow giveaway event held Sunday in Litchfield and Murrells Inlet. The group gave away almost 3,000 trees in five hours.

“We have surpassed our 15,000-tree, five-year goal,” Rick Baumann, the founder of Trees for Tomorrow, said. “Just a few redbuds and dogwoods are left.”

Hundreds of local residents took the saplings from almost two dozen volunteers at the Tree Parties. The almost 5-year-old group will donate the remaining grove to local landmarks and plantations. Trees for Tomorrow will soon file its charter to become a 501(c)(3) thanks to donations collected during this weekend’s event.

“The generosity of the people who picked up trees is very much appreciated,” Baumann said.

Beth Hawkins lives on 3 acres at Pawleys Island. She picked up some of each tree at the event.

“I’m in the process of planting them,” Hawkins said. “In the 20 years I’ve lived here I’ve probably added 10-15 trees.”

Trees appear to be hardy plants, but the ecosystem that supports them is fragile. David Jenkins, forestry health program coordinator and entomologist David Jenkins with the state Forestry Commission, says laurel wilt is the infestation in the area to watch. It mainly effects redbay trees. Other environmental and human factors include trees planted too deep and in the wrong place, pollution, construction, compacted soil and salt water infiltration.

Hawkins lost some of her 100-year-old pine trees last year during Hurricane Matthew and a dogwood she assumes to disease.

“I was lucky the pines fell away from my house,” she said. “They would have crushed it.”

The floods of 2015 and 2016 did not cause as much damage as anticipated. Most trees were going dormant and were able to tolerate the floods, Jenkins said.

“Most of the tree deaths in that region can be attributed to excessive water (floods),” Jenkins said in an email. “Some species, including dogwood, are more sensitive and may have suffered.”

Educating the public about trees and how to care for them is one of the goals of the organization, Baumann says. It will be an ongoing project. “We’ve gone out to schools and given seminars about the importance of trees,” he said.

Trees for Tomorrow strives to be about more than the hardwoods and blooms. Besides educating a younger generation, Baumann believes the organization cuts through the static of environmental politics in South Carolina.

“Our political leaders continually push issues involving our outdoor heritage to the back burner,” Baumann said. “All they give us is talk about issues. Trees for Tomorrow does something about it.”

Baumann’s concerns stem from the Georgetown County Zoning Ordinance. It lists tree regulations and attempts to cover broad demographics of land ownership, construction and tree protection requirements. A list of protected trees, and directives surrounding sizing, is in the ordinance.

Southern magnolia was the only tree species given away from Trees for Tomorrow this year that appears on the protected list.

Baumann will hold a volunteer appreciation party Sunday at Murrells Inlet Seafood from 2-4 p.m. Anyone interested in becoming involved with Trees for Tomorrow is welcome to attend.

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