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Environment: 2,400 young trees need good homes

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

From an oak tree cut down in Murrells Inlet last year, 2,400 new trees are poised to take root.

Organizers of Trees for Tomorrow said this week they will receive a grant of 411 trees from Palmetto Pride for planting on public land. Another 2,000 seedlings from the state Forestry Commission were bought by Rick Baumann, owner of Murrells Inlet Seafood, and Todd Stephenson, owner of Total Tree Care. Those will be available to the public.

“We have over 2,400 trees seeking a good home,” said Baumann, who started Trees for Tomorrow last year. The planting season for trees in South Carolina begins in early December.

The effort began when a live oak was cut at a Murrells Inlet home. Residents were concerned that protections for iconic live oaks on residential property had been removed from the county’s zoning ordinance in 2010.

An effort to restore those protections on the Waccamaw Neck for live oaks with diameters of 30 inches or above passed the Planning Commission, but was tabled by County Council.

Advocates for the protection shifted their focus to preservation, education and planting. Trees for Tomorrow was the result.

It applied for the grant from Palmetto Pride, a nonprofit that campaigns against littering and promotes beautification. Baumann said he expects to receive crepe myrtles, two types of maple, two red bud varieties and willow oaks in October. The trees will be 4 to 6 feet tall in 5 gallon buckets.

“We’re reaching out to county government” to help find public places to plant them, he said. He and Stephenson have also met with churches and the organizers of the Bike the Neck trail.

The Forestry Commission seedlings include live oaks, eastern red cedar, dogwood and red buds. “These 2,000 trees are available to the public for free,” Baumann said. “They’re easy to plant because they’re so small.”

But for those who need help, Boy Scout Troop 396 at Belin Memorial United Methodist Church has offered to do the planting. Baumann is looking for other groups to join the effort.

“Our focus area will be within a 10-mile radius of Murrells Inlet,” he said. “But anyone within a half hour drive is welcome.”

Trees for Tomorrow will apply for nonprofit status from the IRS and should be able to accept tax-free contributions by planting time. The group is also talking with potential corporate sponsors, Baumann said.

But the immediate focus is finding homes for the trees. “The seedlings will have to be done quickly,” Baumann said. “They’re arriving bare-root and need to have homes.”

To request a tree or suggest a site for the Palmetto Pride trees, contact Baumann at 457-8126 or rick@murrellsinletseafood.net

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