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Posted: Thursday, October 10th 2013 at 12:02pm

Gainesville Council anxious to plant trees

By Marc Eggers Staff
EMAIL STORY CONTACT EDITOR PRINT
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Public Works Director David Dockery & Jessica Tullar
GAINESVILLE – The arrival of autumn inescapably draws our attention to the spectacular leaf colors that canopy our area. It also means that the ideal time to plant trees is just around the corner. Add to that the fact that Gainesville became an officially designated "Tree City" in 1987, one of only seven cities in the state to have earned that classification for at least 25 years.

Those three factors are why on Thursday morning the Gainesville City Council was so strongly behind an application being submitted by the Public Works Department for grant money to help fund the planting of trees in a reforestation effort at Exit 20 on Interstate 985.

Councilman George Wangemann pushed the application effort, asking if it could be expanded to provide for plantings elsewhere in the city. “I was wondering if the ‘Global ReLeaf Grant Program’, could this possibly provide funds for what we were intending to do with some of the (other) exits? Could you get some grant funds from the ‘ReLeaf’ program to do that?”

Jessica Tullar, Special Projects Manager for the Community Development Department, responded by saying, "It is very limited in terms of tree-planting grants."

Wangemann nodded his understanding but added, "I hate one day to be the only exits that don’t have anything for beautification."

"In your research, how often can you reapply," acting Mayor Bob Hamrick asked. "This is something that we’ve looked at for years: improving the visual approaches as you come into the city."

"There appears to be no limitation," Tullar responded. "This is a brand new grant. I really don’t know how often they provide it…it is private dollars that depends upon donations."

"I appreciate you keeping your eyes and ears open for that," Wangemann said.

"I’m pretty excited about this prospect because private dollars are used rather than governmental dollars, and who knows how much longer the government is going to be shut down for," Wangemann added.

The application is for a proposed $55,000 reforestation effort: $25,000 provided by the city and $30,000 to be matched by the grant fund provided by American Forests, a national non-profit conservation organization.

The exact number of trees to be planted has yet to be determined, but Tullar said similar applications made by other municipalities provide for as many a 700 new plantings.

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