Downed Trees Will Be Used To Restore Historic Ships And Boats

Katrina uprooted many trees in South Mississippi, including live oaks. Oak trees that fell victim to Katrina weeks ago are still scattered across coast beaches and landscape, but leaders of one of America's most popular maritime museums has found a purpose for these battered trees.

"I'm here to try and collect live oak trees that have been blown down by Katrina, and recycle them into saving, restoring America's tall ships at America's seaport," said Quentin Snediker of the Mystic Seaport.

Oak trees collected from Pass Christian to Gulfport will be used to restore a number of ships and boats at the Connecticuit museum, but the wood will primarily be used to restore the Charles W. Morgan.

"She's a national historic landmark vessel that was bouilt in 1941, which is the last surviving whaling vessel of that era, and we're charged with the responsibility of care and keeping and preservation of that vessel for the Mystic Seaport," Snediker said.

Using uprooted oaks stems back to another devestating hurricane that made landfall 16 years ago.

"Salvaging live oak is something we've been involved with since Hurricane Hugo in 1989, but this is probably the single greatest amount of material that we've been able to gather at one time for a specific project," Snediker said.

Project leaders expect the first trees to be shipped north at the end of the week. It's expected to be months before all the trees are collected.

"The ones that are downed have to be removed, and it's better for them to become part of our American maritime heritage than for them to be burned and disposed of in a landfill," Snediker said.

The Mystic Seaport is a non-profit organization.