ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. | Power companies usually have to crank up saws to cut and prune trees under their overhead lines, but Friday Georgia Power Co. and the St. Simons Land Trust wielded shovels to plant trees.
Georgia Power and contractor Asplundh Tree Expert Co. provided most of the equipment and labor with the Land Trust and Golden Isles Fund for Trees joining in for some ceremonial shoveling.
The participants planted four live oaks, three magnolias, eight red buds and six hollies beside Frederica Road on the Stolloway property, a tract that Glynn County and the Land Trust bought in 2004 to protect it from development.
In October, Hurricane Matthew passed just offshore and knocked down a number of trees on the property and left others leaning. In replanting under its lines, Georgia Power would seem to be buying future trouble, but company forester Ron Mercer said it all depends on placement.
The hollies and red buds were planted under the lines because even at maturity they won’t grow tall enough to reach the lines nor will they require pruning, Mercer said.
The larger species will eventually provide a canopy but they are too far from the electrical lines to pose any danger, he said.
Georgia Power’s contractors, Jones Maintenance Co. and other tree services took down some trees along Frederica and elsewhere on the island that had withstood the storm.
“They weren’t affected by the storm, but they were a safety hazard,” Mercer said.
The storm left some tall pines hung up in a live oak with their tops pointed toward the road.
“The pine trees were so tall they were across Frederica Road and the power lines,” and eventually gravity would have pulled them loose and dropped them, he said.
Among those working was Paulo Albuquerque, Georgia Power’s area manager, who thanked those who participated.
“When the community gets together, you can really make a difference,” he said.
The well-placed trees was just a fraction of the number the Land Trust acquired a few days before. The conservation agency announced Thursday it had closed on 90 acres of Musgrove Plantation. Combined with the first 58 acres, the Land Trust now owns 148 acres of the 450-acre plantation and will eventually own 260.
The plantation has 200 acres of maritime forest, 60 acres of rare pond pine flatwoods and plants. To conserve the pond pine habitat and rare plants, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded two $1 million grants toward the purchase through the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Non-game Wildlife Resources Division.
The Land Trust plans to acquire the remaining 112 acres by the end of the year.
Land Trust Executive Director David Pope said it was an exciting time for the organization.
“This parcel of Musgrove is a big addition to the protected lands on St. Simons Island,” Pope said.
The Land Trust is grateful to Nicole Bagley of the Brenn Foundation and to Jason Lee for their work in making the land deal possible. Lee is the Natural Resources program manager who worked out the details of the acquisition of Musgrove and other large, environmentally sensitive tracts in the area.
Nicole Bagley is the daughter of the late Smith Bagley, who owned Musgrove. He created the Brenn Foundation to focus on public policy issues including the environment, human rights and civic engagement. The foundation sought the transaction with the Land Trust to raise additional funds to support its mission and to preserve Musgrove.
The Land Trust cannot open its portion of Musgrove until it owns the full 260 acres, but it has begun planning nature trails, a fishing platform and boat launch on Musgrove Creek and other improvements.
Terry Dickson: (912) 264-0405