USM replacing oaks lost to February tornado - - The News for South Mississippi

USM replacing oaks lost to February tornado

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A crew plants the first of five live oak trees on the USM campus Tuesday. A crew plants the first of five live oak trees on the USM campus Tuesday.

Hattiesburg residents who drive or walk along Hardy Street will once again enjoy the sight of large oak trees lining the southern part of the University of Southern Mississippi campus. Tuesday afternoon, crews began planting five mature live oaks, replacing those lost to the Feb. 10 tornado.

They're about 30 years old and were grown specifically to be transplanted by a Florida grower. The total cost of the trees is $125,000.

The planting is part of phase one of a campus beautification campaign developed just after the storm.

"We lost three out of four on campus and they were 90 years old," said Loren Erickson, superintendent of campus landscape for Southern Miss. "(The trees) will anchor where we're going to put lines of live oak, smaller, down in the future, so it's a good spot to have cornerstone oak and then you can go from there," he said.

"These trees were grown for this purpose," said USM President Dr. Rodney Bennett. "The growers down in Florida always intended and pruned them and took care of them with the idea that one day, someone would purchase them and they would be transplanted," he said.

Wednesday has been designated as the Southern Miss "Day of Giving" for the campus beautification campaign. If you'd like to donate, you can go online at

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