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Free trees available to replace Ivan losses

Hurricane Ivan uprooted hundreds of trees in Greenville, but city homeowners looking for a replacement tree should be able to receive one thanks to a grant through Auburn University and USDA Forest Service.

Jennifer Stringer, Horticulturist for the city of Greenville, said the city received $29,810, with an in-kind match of $7,453, for urban tree replacement in public and residential areas throughout the Camellia City.

In September 2004, Hurricane Ivan hit the Alabama Gulf Coast, its Category 3 winds toppling trees onto homes in Butler County and surrounding areas.

With the funds, the city has purchased 342 trees to be planted in public areas, such as Sherling Lake Park, which was hit particularly hard by Ivan's winds. Stringer said 200 trees are available for homeowners in Greenville.

&#8220Anyone wishing for a replacement tree can pick up an application at the city clerk's office,” she said.

Stringer expects the trees to go quickly, especially among residents who miss the tall shade offered by a mature oak.

&#8220I think they will,” she said. &#8220Whenever we have just a seeding, people always turn out. And these are 15-gallon trees.”

Homeowners, however, must meet several requirements in order to receive a tree:

n An application, from the city clerk's office, must be completed and turned in by Jan. 18.

n Applicants must own the house and land on which the tree will be placed.

n Trees must be placed in front yards to act as street trees for the common good of the community.

n Trees will only be given to those homeowners who had fallen trees or trees removed because of Hurricane Ivan.

n Applicants must receive instruction on how to plant and maintain the tree.

n Applicants must live inside the city limits.

n Limit of one tree per household.

Trees available range from small to medium to large. The size of the tree is based on its height at full maturity and Stringer said applicants would be asked to list their preference. She also said homeowners should base their decisions on the amount of space available in their front yard.

&#8220Trees need room to grow,” she said. &#8220The bigger the tree the more root space it must have. Also, look for utility lines and other obstructions.”

With hurricane season expected to worsen over the next few years, some residents may be hesitant to re-plant trees near their home.

But Stringer said data compiled by Auburn University indicates that the trees offered through the grant have a greater resistance to hurricane force winds.

Trees will be made available to the first 200 homeowners who meet eligibility requirements.