New Grant Program Helps Cities Replace Trees - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

New Grant Program Helps Cities Replace Trees

Hurricane Katrina was hard on even the hardiest of hardwoods.  

"A lot of these trees, they got rocked by the waves and the wind," says Todd Matthews with the Mississippi Forestry Commission. "And it broke up a lot of the roots."

Softwoods suffered a similar fate.  

"Mostly, the pine trees were vulnerable to the salt water," says Mississippi Forestry Commission Director of Conservation Education and Public Outreach Jimmy Mordica.  

And Mother Nature's brutal assault continued long after the winds died and the water receded. 

"The drought really hit it because right after the storm it turned droughty," says Mordica. "That had a big effect on a lot of things."

In the final assessment, Katrina's fury was an unprecedented disaster for the trees.  

"The initial assessment identified approx 2.7 million trees in the urban settings that were impacted, which resulted in about $1.1 billion in damage and cost to remove, prune and clean up," says Mordica. 

But Mississippi Forestry Commission Director of Conservation Education and Public Outreach Jimmy Mordica says help is on the way in the form of $1 million in federal grants.  

"It's designed to do four basic things," says Mordica. "One is tree replacement and replanting for trees that were damaged, lost, destroyed. Another area it will fund will be remediation work such as additional pruning or taking down trees that need to come out on public properties. It will also fund some education programs that cities want to do. The other thing is it will fund management plans or assessments."

Mordica says eligible communities statewide can receive up to $50,000 - help that, he says, is vital to returning a beautiful resource to South Mississippi.  

"We're tree people at heart and that's what we love. That's why we're in the business," Mordica said. "This gives us new hope to be able to provide this assistance to cities and communities to get them back on their feet and get the trees growing again."

Click here to find out more about grant program, or to download a grant application.

by Don Culpepper

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