Jackson Co. officials remove Live Oak trees from chopping block

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Several Live Oaks will continue to tower over Old Spanish Trail in Jackson County for now. The trees are right along the line dividing Gautier and Ocean Springs.

"It is always important to save trees when they are going to be cut down unnecessarily," said Supervisor John McKay, who represents the area.

Last year, a debate sparked when several trees had to be removed near the same spot because they were in the path of the Highway 57 widening project.

"We tried everything to save the trees, but we also realized progress had to go on and that  public safety was involved," Gautier's Mayor Tommy Fortenberry said.

Those trees were lost, but McKay said he worked with contractors so at least some could remain.

"For public safety, I have no problem with removing trees. But these were really not going to be removed for a public safety issue. They were really just being removed because of the drainage system that was going along here," said McKay about the trees.

After reexamining the project, a new plan was devised to avoid chopping down anymore trees.

"We were able to come out with the engineers and review where the road would actually be and the drainage. We were able to redesign and make some minor changes to eliminate going through the trees," county contractor Jimmy Lane said.

By removing the trees from the chopping block, Jackson County is keeping character in its community and also keeping history alive.

"These trees are a part of our culture; these trees have been here 150 to 200 years," Gautier's Mayor said. "They have seen a lot of hurricanes and a lot of things, and it just sad to see a chainsaw be put to them."

The road is being widened due to the increase in traffic near Ocean Springs High. The county also plans to plant new trees in the area.

Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.