Mississippi Urban Forest Council Promotes Tree Planting

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- Garden Club member Miss Edie Dreher tied a ribbon on a newly planted oak at Clower-Thornton Park. She says restoring green space should be everyone's concern.

"We need to save these areas, green spaces, so that the children can learn about nature and enjoy nature," she said.

The Mississippi Urban Forest Council made the Gulfport park its first stop in a series of tree planting visits along the coast.

"Trees give us much more than just aesthetic beauty. They recharge our water system. They give us oxygen. They increase our property values. Trees translate to dollars for the coast," said Renee Brooks with the council.

Experts estimate the coast lost about 40 percent of its tree canopy to Katrina.

"And what that equates to for citizens that live along the coast is higher energy bills. And trees provide a lot of benefits that are going to be decreased in the future and we're going to work very hard to try and help replace that canopy," said Donna Yowell with the forest council.

The mayor of Long Beach appreciates the value of trees. He's encouraged by the ongoing tree planting.

"And we lost so many that these occasions when we're having these plantings for the future of our coast and the people that will follow us, God bless the tree planting, 'cause we need it," said Mayor Billy Skellie, who helped place an Arbor Day sign at West Railroad Park in Long Beach.

Children from Trinity Nursery School helped celebrate trees in Pass Christian. They will enjoy the shade and benefits of the new trees for many decades.

"The Pass is nicknamed 'Nature's Gift to the Gulf Coast.' Natural beauty is what got us where we were to begin with, and it's going to have to get us out of this too, so they're very important," said Pass Christian Mayor Chipper McDermott.

The Urban Forest Council planted 29 new live oak trees from Gulfport to Pearlington.