Since trees are such a valuable part of our landscape and our lives, it is natural that we celebrate them on a special day.
If you have traveled much in other parts of our country or in other countries where there is not an abundance of trees, it makes you appreciate what we have in our area. I think that we all value trees for the beauty and shade that they provide, especially in the summertime. We probably value them even more when the trees are cut down by overzealous developers.
Often, however, we are unaware or take for granted the many other vital roles of trees in our communities. Trees truly are more than pretty faces.
• Trees reduce energy costs. They often are referred to as a “low-tech” solution to energy conservation. Properly placed trees can reduce air conditioning needs in the summer and stem the force of winds and lower heating costs in the winter. The U. S. Department of Agriculture notes that a young, healthy tree has the cooling effect of 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.
• Trees clean our air. Trees produce the oxygen that we breathe and help remove air pollution. The USDA cites that 1 acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and produces four tons of oxygen. This is enough oxygen to meet the needs of 18 people each year.
• Trees attract wildlife. They provide habitat for songbirds and other desirable wildlife. Could you imagine life without the enjoyment of the sounds and beauty that birds provide?
• Trees slow water runoff and prevent erosion. The leaves of trees break the force of rain, which reduces flooding by helping water seep into the soil at a slower rate. Tree roots help hold the soil in place on hillsides, preventing erosion. This also protects water quality.
• Trees also have economic benefits for all of us. They add value along streets and on private and commercial property. According to the USDA Forest Service, healthy, mature trees add an average of 10 percent to property value. Trees also add value to retail areas, making them more inviting places to shop.
• Trees also can screen noise and enhance privacy. According to epa.gov, even thin belts of trees can reduce noise by three to five decibels. Densely planted trees also can block views and increase privacy.
There are so many reasons to appreciate trees. That is why we give away trees for planting in honor of Georgia Arbor Day, which always is on the third Friday in February. We will hold two tree giveaways this month. The first will be from 9 a.m.-noon Feb. 15, at Farmers Natural Foods. The additional giveaway will be held in conjunction with our quarterly Recycle It! Fair from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Feb. 16 at the Liberty County Health Department.
We will have several trees to choose from, including dogwoods, white oak, sweet bays and crepe myrtles as well as some oleanders (which are technically bushes but can grow to a tree height and are very attractive here on the coast).
We also are partnering with the Hinesville Police Department on Feb. 16 to hold a prescription take back at the Recycle It! Fair, so bring in any old prescription medications and over-the-counter medications that you need to dispose of. Never flush these items down the toilet! We don’t want this stuff in our waterways, do we? The only items the police department cannot accept are hypodermic needles.
For more information, go to www.keeplibertybeautiful.org, find us on Facebook, call 880-4888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Keep Liberty Beautiful events
Through Feb. 15 — Phonebook recycling We have collection boxes around the county for recycling phonebooks and large catalogs as well as drop-offs at local recycling centers in the newspaper bins. For more information, call 880-4888 or email email@example.com.