The S.C. Forestry Commission, in cooperation with the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, announced last November that funds were available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for the Community Forest Health Enrichment Assistance Program to remove and replace dead or dying trees throughout S.C.
Approximately $850,000 was available to South Carolina’s city and town governments. The money was awarded through a competitive grants process to cities and towns statewide to help communities with the management of their public tree resource.
Last April, Town of Winnsboro Grant Coordinator Connie Shackelford and Jimmy Walters, Regional Urban Forester with the S.C. Forestry Commission, spent time driving through Winnsboro looking for hazardous trees located in the public right-of-way and Town parks.
Shackelford and Walters sprayed orange dots on 23 trees identified as dead or in fair to poor condition for possible removal.
“It caused a lot of controversy,” said Shackelford. “Word just got out and I started getting phone calls from people who didn’t want their trees cut down. When we got a call protesting a tree removal, we took it off the list.”
“We had to have trees identified to write the grant to get funding to remove them,” Shackelford said. “We looked for over-grown and over-mature trees. When they get to a certain age, some need to be replaced. I figured we might as well get rid of the trees while we have grant money.”
In May, the Town was awarded $21,250 in grant money, which was broken out to allow $17,000 for tree removal and $4,250 for replacement trees.
Soon after, Shackelford and Licensed Arborist Graham Taylor of Gilbert, S.C., got a better look at other trees that could be taken down. The Town’s Tree Board also weighed in. All agreed that only one tree per street should be removed.
The Town is now in the bidding process to obtain a hazard tree removal service, as well as a company to provide and plant replacement trees.
“From what I am told, the amount of money we received through the grant will only remove five or six trees,” Shackelford said. “Several of the worst trees are in Fortune Springs Park.”
Shackelford expects the identified trees to be taken down and replacement trees planted by March 2011.