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Environment: Council cuts tree rule, so residents start planting

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Rick Baumann doesn’t have much hope for the return of a tree protection amendment that Georgetown County Council axed from its agenda two weeks ago.

“I just think that at this point, council probably isn’t going to mess with it until it’s politically expedient to do so,” the Murrells Inlet resident said.

So he came up with a plan of his own to help keep native tree species, including live oaks, plentiful on the Waccamaw Neck.

In an e-mail he sent out on Sunday to a number of others who were proponents of the amendment, Baumann introduced his plan for a new organization that would address tree issues that “have been overlooked or ignored politically,” and encourage tree preservation as well as the planting of new trees.

It would also promote public education, political awareness and cooperative effort between preservation and developmental interests, according to a preliminary mission statement.

“The purpose of this organization is to be proactive and lead by example – and hopefully, our leaders will respond,” Baumann said.

The group doesn’t have a name yet, though several have been submitted for consideration. Contenders include Putting Down Roots, Plant It Native, Plant One on the Neck, Shade Your Neck and Trees for Tomorrow.

Baumann hopes to have a name by the end of the month. That’s one topic that will be taken up at a group meeting he’s planning for this weekend.

“I like something simple that gets the message across,” said Bill Chandler, who has agreed to be the group’s historical advisor. “People find something to say about anything you do, but how can anybody criticize a group that has ‘plant a tree’ in its name?”

Todd Stephenson, a certified arborist and owner of Total Tree Care, has also agreed to be part of the group as its technical mentor.

Baumann is looking for people interested in serving as committee members and businesses willing to support the group.

An initial tree planting initiative this year is planned to get the group rolling and help introduce it to the community. The committee will create a list of indigenous trees to be planted and True Blue Nursery has agreed to offer a 20 percent discount on all trees on the list. An envelope full of deals from other businesses will also be made available with the purchase.

“These are the kind of trees that get cut down on Waccamaw Neck and they just never get replaced, or they get replaced with other trees that are cheaper or grow faster or are more commensurate with the makeup of the buildings and lots of recent years,” Baumann said. “We want to get these trees that used to dominate the landscape brought back so we don’t lose that natural landscape.”

Baumann is looking for other nurseries willing to give discounts and businesses to offer deals to be used between Feb. 15 and April 15. Several have already signed on to participate.

“The goal is to have enough coupons in each envelope to more than offset the cost of the tree,” Baumann said.

The group is still in the earliest stages, but county residents can expect to hear a lot more about it in the coming weeks, Baumann said. He will talk about the group at a Senior Scholars meeting at the Georgetown Library on Feb. 14 and plans to make contact with other groups that have an environmental interest, such as the Sierra Club, and Preserve Murrells Inlet.

To get involved with the group, call Baumann, 651-9309, or e-mail him at rick@murrellsinletseafood.net.

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