Replant South Mississippi is a partnership between the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain and Sun Herald with funding assistance from the Mississippi Forestry Commission. The purpose of the partnership is to restore the tree canopy greatly damaged by Hurricane Katrina, working together to enhance the public viewshed and diversify the urban forest across the six southern counties of Mississippi.
The partnership will work with local communities to create a plan and to provide fast-growing native trees for public spaces as well as privately owned lands with public viewsheds. The plan includes the creation of an education program about the importance of trees and their care and will also monitor plantings to ensure long term success. Replant South Mississippi is working with our local communities to leave a legacy of urban forests for future generations.
The foundation that was created by the Sun Herald and the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain started on February 9, 2006, on a mission to replace thousands of trees lost when Hurricane Katrina struck South Mississippi in August of 2005.
In February, Director Judy Steckler of the Land Trust, and Sun Herald publisher Ricky Mathews, announced the launch of “Replant South Mississippi,” an urban reforestation partnership with communities in Harrison, Hancock, Jackson, Pearl River, Stone, and George counties. The replanting program is being launched with grants from the Sun Herald and the Mississippi Forestry Commission and will seek grants from other public and private sponsors.
A new tree was planted at one school in each of five South Mississippi counties on February 9th, Mississippi Arbor Day, as a symbolic beginning of the ambitious program. Steckler said a few modest plantings will be done at other special events throughout the spring and summer, including schools in other counties. A major tree planting across six counties is being planned for early fall.
The Mississippi Forestry Commission estimates that 1.5 million trees were damaged by Katrina and a half million destroyed across the state. The six southernmost counties suffered the worst of those losses, especially to large oak and pine trees. The estimate is in excess of 300,000 trees killed by Katrina or the rebuilding in its aftermath.
Smart growth in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is critical, especially in rural areas where unprecedented growth is taking place. The number of trees being lost in the rural areas is not being caused by wind or water but by growth and development.
A website is planned to provide the public with educational information and expert advice on planting and other smart growth issues. Tapping the expertise available through the Land Trust and other resources, the website will be accessible through the Sun Herald website, www.SunHerald.com.
Ocean Springs arborist David Minkler is serving as consultant to the partnership.
The partnership will include a committee of community representatives from all six southern counties to advise the public on how to get and plant trees. The Partnership’s goal is to replace, over the next several years, many if not all of the trees lost in the storm.
For more information on how you can donate to Replant South Mississippi or for information on corporate sponsorships, call (228) 435-9191