Arbor Day in Florida is the third Friday in January which, this year, falls on Friday, Jan. 15.
Usually, the city’s tree committee honors this day with a tree giveaway, with young trees supplied by the Florida Forest Service, but that event has been cancelled due to concerns about the pandemic. Instead, the day was celebrated with an anonymous donor’s gift of six 15-gallon live oak trees to the city. The donor not only purchased the 9-foot high trees, but also arranged for Tallahassee Nurseries to plant them at Battery Park on Monday.
Several weeks prior to the arrival of the trees, the tree committee met with John Solomon, board president of the Florida Seafood Festival, at Battery Park to decide where the trees could be planted so as not to interfere with booths and walkways during that popular November event.
As a result, three trees have been planted along Sixth Street, two on the north side of the playground, and one in the central part of the park. The tree committee will take care of watering the new trees until they are established.
Hurricane Michael uprooted one old oak and, in the last year, two laurel oaks and one water oak had to be removed due to disease, age and the safety hazard they posed. These new trees will do much to make up for the loss of the others.
In 2004, former four-term mayor Jimmie Nichols wrote an article (“It’s Time for a Tree Ordinance” (See Apalachicola Times, June 3, 2004), urging the city’s residents to protect its trees.
“No owner or developer, nor any agent or representative thereof,” he wrote, “shall cut down, destroy, remove or move or injure or commit any act that would cause damage to any protected tree located on any property within the city without approval from the director of land uses and code enforcement.”
A tree committee and a tree ordinance were finally established in 2011. Since then, Apalachicola has been recognized as one of the more than 200 cities in Florida that meet the Arbor Day Foundation requirements for being a “Tree City.”
In order to qualify for this status, the city must have both a tree board and a tree ordinance, a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita, and an annual Arbor Day observance. The Arbor Day Foundation website states that the spirit of Arbor Day belongs to “people around the world who know that a greener world is healthier, more beautiful, and more equitable.”
The city’s tree committee, on behalf of present and future citizens of Apalachicola, extends heartfelt thanks to the generous anonymous donor.
This article originally appeared on The Apalachicola Times: Six oaks take root in Battery Park