Search This Blog

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Trees on St. Charles Ave.

Large Oak Trees on St. Charles Good.

Large Oak Trees in your neighborhood.... fight for them.... they are equally good.

See the full article from the Times Picayune below.  And use it as a reference the next time you hear that large trees might not be a good idea.

Although the oaks of St. Charles Avenue survived Hurricane Katrina almost unscathed, decades of development and neglect were another matter, leaving stretches of New Orleans’ iconic boulevard harsh and barren. Like so much else in the city, restoration of the avenue did not seem urgent before the 2005 storm.
tree3186.jpgView full sizeCody Schmidt, left, and Allen Rhea of Bayou Tree Services steady a large live oak sapling as heavy machinery moves it into place near the corner of St. Charles and Louisiana avenues.
But thanks to private donations and the partnership of the city’s Parks and Parkways department, the 353-member St. Charles Avenue Association has spent the past five years replanting the street with close to 300 young oaks, said Ted Le Clercq, association president. The last few trees are being planted this spring.
“This project really arose out of Katrina,” Le Clercq said. “Those of us who came back to New Orleans made a decision to stay here. After Katrina, it was important for everybody to look around and get involved. New Orleans had a different attitude after Katrina, frankly.”
Parks and Parkways provided technical expertise and made sure the group had permission to plant, said Ann MacDonald, department director.
“We do not have a lot of resources to replant trees in some cases,” MacDonald said. “St. Charles Avenue was not flooded as a result of Katrina,” so recovery money was not available, she said.
“It truly was a textbook private-public partnership, and, in this post-Katrina landscape, that’s the only way to get things done,” she said.
The St. Charles Avenue Association raised more than $325,000 from sources including a $1,000 grant from the New Orleans Saints, 31 major underwriters and hundreds of other donations, large and small, said Bret Clesi, a former president of the group.
“Every dollar raised for the trees was spent on the trees, not a penny for administrative expenses,” Clesi said. Other expenses include fertilizing the trees every year, checking their health and spraying for buckmoth caterpillars.
oak-tree-planting.jpgView full sizeWorkers with Bayou Tree Services wrestle a large live oak sapling into place.
The lower Garden District needed the most oaks, but trees were planted everywhere that property owners agreed to have them along the avenue, and along a portion of South Carrollton Avenue in the Riverbend.
“There are almost 1,000 live oaks on St. Charles Avenue,” Le Clercq said. “How old are the oldest ones? Nobody knows exactly. We think that many of them were planted in the late 1800s. That’s why we call the project the Once Every 100 Years project. Somebody did this for us 100 years ago, and that’s why we get to enjoy the beauty of the avenue today.”
“These trees were 45-gallon trees, roughly 8 to 10 feet tall,” said Bobby Hassinger, another former president. “They’re doing tremendously. If you look down the first part of the project, between Lee Circle and Jackson, you see a lot of the traditional green of the avenue.”
Live oaks can live 200 to 300 years, although they often die younger in an urban environment, said John Benton, whose Bayou Tree Service was hired by the St. Charles Avenue Association to plant the trees. The species is indigenous to coastal areas. “They’re designed to tolerate hurricanes and floods. That’s what they do,” Benton said.
Hassinger lives on the avenue, in a home that has been in his family more than 100 years. Growing up, he watched Carnival parades roll beneath the oaks. “It’s a wonderful cohesive force, the streetscape,” he said. “It feels like a great community.”
However, members of the St. Charles Avenue Association do not have to live on the street; in fact, some live out of state. The only requirements to join are dues of $20 a year and a devotion to the city’s signature thoroughfare.
Now that the tree-planting project is almost finished, the association is focusing on having the St. Charles Avenue streetcar declared a national historic landmark. The group also monitors zoning and development, works with property owners to maintain the historic beauty of the avenue and maintains an information page on Facebook.
“We are city of neighborhoods. Everybody says so,” Clesi said. “In a way, St. Charles is kind of the city’s neighborhood. You take your kids to ride on the streetcar, to the park.”
Le Clercq agreed. “It’s where we go to celebrate Carnival, it’s where we celebrate football championships. It’s where we send our visitors. Imagine the avenue without the oaks, without the streetcar. It’s unimaginable.”
The St. Charles Avenue Association spends about $20,000 a year to maintain the nearly 1,000 live oaks along the avenue. Tax-deductible contributions can be sent to the 501(c)(3) “Save the Oaks Inc.,” P.O. Box 15833, New Orleans, La. 70175.
Annette Sisco is community news editor. She can be reached at or 504.826.3310.

No comments: