OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The collection of stately live oaks in downtown Ocean Springs is undergoing a check-up. City leaders are monitoring the health of the trees and plan to take the necessary steps to make sure they are healthy.
Two arborists have prepared two separate reports on the conditions of the majestic oak trees on Washington Avenue. The health of the live oaks became a pressing issue when a city electrician noticed obvious rot on a classic tree on the corner of Government and Washington next to the old Loveless Drugs building.
"Once he noticed that we contacted several members of the tree committee. They went out and looked at it and had concerns. We went ahead and put it on the agenda to bring it up to the attention of the board," said Building Official Hilliard Fountain.
Aldermen will analyze the reports at the January 17 board meeting. All the live oaks on Washington have been examined from Highway 90 to Calhoun. Time, traffic and development all take a toll on the trees.
"Concerns we've had over the past several years are deterioration in several locations, rotting of some of the limbs, vehicle damage which can lead to infestation of bugs," Fountain said.
Visitors, residents, and business owners appreciate the trees and consider them a gem in the downtown area. Elizabeth Hurt at French Kiss Pastries would encourage the city to be proactive in protecting the trees.
"If you can save a tree, why wouldn't you? They're so old and so beautiful. People come here because they want to see the oak trees. They want to see what hundreds of years have done. I mean, if you can, why wouldn't you save them?" Hurt said.
The tree committee and board members will consider a basic prescription for rescuing trees that are showing signs of decay.
"There are things we can do as far as trimming, removing some of the dead growth, fertilization and keeping the bugs out. Like anything else, it takes maintenance," according to Fountain.
The Ocean Springs Board of Aldermen will see the reports at its January 17 meeting.