Firing range gets 200 new trees

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX)-Volunteers planted 200 new trees in Pass Christian Tuesday morning.

It's part of the ongoing efforts to replace the "tree canopy" destroyed by Katrina.

The planting project is designed to improve both sights and sounds.

Volunteers battled rock hard ground to plant new trees at the firing range off Espy Avenue.

"In Pass Christian, we want to increase our canopy by 75 percent, which is a huge goal. And each year we've been working towards that. Today we're planting 200 trees, thanks to Replant South Mississippi, the Land Trust," said project organizer Renee Brooks.

Joe Ravita helped with the planting. He represents the Mississippi Urban Forest Council.

"We've got bald cypress. Very good all around tree that will grow in any type environment. We've got white oak. We've got red maple," he said.

They planted the native species along and atop the large dirt mound that borders the shooting range.

"It's important to the city cause we lost an awful lot of trees following Katrina. And we're still in the process of putting 'em back. I don't know if we'll ever achieve what nature was able to do, but Replant South Mississippi has done wonders for us and they're sending us as many trees as we need to put wherever we want," said a grateful city alderman, Lou Rizzardi.

The new trees will not only beautify the landscape; once they've grown up a bit they'll also provide a sound barrier, helping buffer the noise from the firing range.

Aside from that long term advantage the firing range trees may provide, volunteer Gayle Nolan says trees have always been a worthy investment.

"Trees are one of the best gifts we have. They clean the environment of air pollution and all the toxins we put in. And besides, they're just beautiful," she said.

A neighbor who lives near the firing range says while she appreciates the tree planting, it will do very little to cut down on the excessive noise.

Donna Mellott lives about 400 yards from the target range. She says the 200 new trees might make a difference in 10 or 20 years, but not now.

"I am absolutely in favor of planting trees. I want to plant trees everywhere. However, this is not a solution to the issue we've already raised, that the firing range is a nuisance to the neighbors around it. And we need to come up with a little more effective solution to reduce the sound now, not a decade from now," said Mellott.

Neighbors who live near the range have complained to city leaders about the noise nuisance.