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Tree Smarts program gearing up for 2007
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After two years of focusing on education and tree plantings, the Tree Smarts program in Bulloch County, this year they are shifting their focus to addressing the community's needs of maintaining and improving the quality of the county's community forrest.
    Tree Smarts, which is comprised of Keep Bulloch Beautiful, the Georgia Southern Botanical Gardens and other organizations, is dedicated to managing and improving the trees in Bulloch County as well as educating residents about what they can do to care for their trees.
    But this year, the organization plans on shifting its focus to maintaining and improving the quality of the trees in the county.
    To do that, they plan to undertake two major programs during the remainder of this year and into 2007, said Brooke Brandenbrug Carney, director of Keep Bulloch Beautiful.
    The first is to host an arborist prepration course and certification test for tree professionals, which Carney said would improve the look of developments in the area.
    "To have landscaping and tree professionals be certified arvorists is a very high standard of work," Carney said. "The more of those you have in a community, the highter quality developments you'll have, be it residential or commercial development."
    In addition, Tree Smarts plans to begin a multi-year project, beginning this year, to do a tree inventory focusing on the downtown areas of the four municipalities inside Bulloch County.
    "Literally, we want to do a head count of each tree so wo know what we've got, how many we have, how healthy they are and what kind of benefits they offer," Carney said.
    Carney said information regarding the number, health and type of trees is useful information for cities to have, but local governments don't have the time or resources to gather that data.
    Trees provide many benefits to communities, Carney said, including the obvious environmental and not-so-obvious economic benefits.
    "Studies have show that tourists will spend more time and money in an area if it's shaded and has lots of tree cover," Carney said.
    Tree Smarts also has other goals they plan on acheiving in the coming months, including reestablishing Statesboro as a Tree City USA.
    "Forever, it seemed like Statesboro was a Tree City USA, but the last couple of years, we've let that recognition lapse," Carney said. "We're in the process of getting that back."
    Even though they're going to concentrate on other things this year, Carney said they will still continue their educational efforts as well.
    "One of the projects we did the first two years was to put together a special collection on trees that's at the Statesboro Regional Library," she said. "It has information on choosing and maintaining trees in this area to help people who may be intimidated by planting a tree."
    For more information or to volunteer, call Carney at (912) 764-6147.
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