Jefferson and Gainesville officials will be using a few federal stimulus dollars to spruce up certain areas in the cities.
The funds are a part of the Tree Planting for Ecosystem Restoration and Green Job program funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and managed by the Georgia Forestry Commission.
Overall, $897,000 is available. Jefferson received a grant for $50,000 for its Trees Mean Green project, and Gainesville received a grant of $10,000.
According to forestry commission staff, the purpose of the restoration program is to stimulate the economy and to improve ecosystems in areas of North Georgia that have been affected by growth and urbanization.
Officials in Jefferson will use the findings from a recent tree inventory to decide where to plant more than 100 canopy trees.
“The tree inventory focused on parks and city rights-of-way. It identified more than 1,400 possible sites for tree plantings,” City Manager John Ward said.
“We’ll prioritize those sites to plant trees in the areas that we feel will make the most impact.”
In Gainesville, the grant will be used to plant trees in the Midtown area.
“We intend to start planting trees along the Midtown Greenway, starting at Mule Camp Springs (on Jesse Jewell Parkway),” said Jessica Tullar, Gainesville community development department special projects manager.
The greenway will follow the old CSX rail line and will run from Parker Street to Georgia Avenue.
Although local matching funds aren’t required, grant recipients are required to follow several guidelines.
Among other things, recipients must hire qualified landscape professionals to install and maintain the trees for a year, purchase trees from a local nursery or tree farm and to also have a certified arborist on hand to oversee the project.
Tree plantings in Jefferson should begin sometime next month, while plantings in Gainesville should begin sometime this fall after ground is broken on the greenway by July 1.
According to Tullar, if trees aren’t planted now, the only other window of opportunity is in the fall when the trees are dormant.
So far, only seven projects have been funded through this federal program.
In addition to Gainesville and Jefferson, programs in Toccoa, Demorest, Calhoun, Royston and Hartwell have also received grants for tree planting projects.