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Live oaks deserve to be saved

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POSTED: February 6, 2007 5:05 a.m.
Liberty County and its municipalities are experiencing tremendous growth. Residential and commercial developments are popping up everywhere, and local roads and highways are being widened.
While progress can be a positive thing - more homes and services, and possibly less traffic congestion — it can prove devastating to one of Georgia's greatest natural resources — its trees.
While our county and city leaders have adopted tree protection ordinances, such laws do not go far enough in protecting our magnificent live oaks.
Simply adopting a tree protection ordinance does not mean our live oaks cannot be cut. Instead, such ordinances simply assign “tree quality points” based on each type of tree. So, for example, a tree worth 200 “tree quality points” is destroyed, it is supposed to be replaced with a tree or trees equal to that number of quality points.
Think of it as being similar to wetlands mitigation. A developer can still pave over wetlands, as long as he promises to set aside a wetlands area elsewhere.
The problem with such laws, however, is in their enforcement. Who is monitoring the cutting of live oaks to ensure that each one lost is replaced?
Has anyone been penalized for violating any of our tree protection ordinances (each governing body adopts their own version)?
While government and law enforcement officials have their hands full just trying to conduct business as usual, we're rapidly losing our magnificent live oak trees.
Is this system working? If not, we should hold those who violate the law accountable with hefty fines — something that will make them hurt as much as we do when we see our grand old oaks lying in a heap of rubbish.
Why all the fuss over some trees? Because we need them.
Here are some reasons why we should fight to save them.
1. Trees combat the greenhouse effect.
2. Trees clean the air.
3. Trees provide oxygen.
4. Trees shade our homes and streets.
5. Trees conserve energy. Three trees placed strategically around a single-family home can cut summer air conditioning needs by up to 50 percent.
6. Trees help save water. Shade from trees slows water evaporation from thirsty lawns.
7. Trees help prevent water pollution.
8. Trees help prevent soil erosion.
9. Trees provide protection from cancer-causing ultraviolet rays, especially on campuses and in playgrounds where children spend hours outdoors.
10. Trees provide a canopy and habitat for wildlife
11. Trees help provide food for people, birds and wildlife.
12. Trees as landmarks can give a neighborhood a new identity and encourage civic pride.
13. Trees increase property values. The beauty of a well-planted property and its surrounding street and neighborhood can raise property values by as much as 15 percent.
14. Trees increase business traffic. Think about the most pleasant places to shop in our community. Chances are, trees provide shade for pedestrians and cars.
15. Trees have provided the space for human retreat throughout the ages.
Please, save our quality of life. Save a tree.
 

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