Hundreds of magnolia trees planted along South MS highways

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Keep Mississippi Beautiful is stepping up efforts to improve the scenery for those driving though South Mississippi. Over a three month period, hundreds of trees will be planted along major roads in our area.

In between Mississippi's mile markers, Keith Pouncey plants magnolia trees.

"I think it shows off our state and that's our state tree," said Pouncey of Keep Mississippi Beautiful.

"Our visitors coming in and out of state get a good view of what we're about in Mississippi being the Magnolia State."

Keep Mississippi Beautiful started the Avenue of Magnolias program in the 1960s. Recently, efforts to beautify our roads have branched out.

"We're putting them on most of the major highways coming into the state and leaving the state. We started out putting them within 10 miles of state lines, but we've got those areas pretty much saturated now so we're moving farther inland and farther inland every year."

Behind each magnolia is a generous donor. The trees cost $25 each.

"We try to concentrate where we get the most donations from is where we try to plant the most trees. This time we had a real good turnout along the coast here, so I've been putting quite a few along I-10 here, Highway 607 and Highway 63."

By the end of March, Pouncey will have planted 315 trees here in South Mississippi all by himself.

"I've tried different avenues of doing it with the tiller, with the drill and everything but that's pretty labor intensive. I found the plain basic old shovel works the best. Hopefully within a few years, these magnolias will be 50 feet tall."

Keep Mississippi Beautiful officials said the survival rate for the magnolia trees planted along our roads has greatly improved over the years.

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