City board seeks funding to plant more trees in Beaufort

emoody@beaufortgazette.comOctober 7, 2012 

Between 2004 and 2010, the city of Beaufort planted about 70 trees and removed about 35.

Last year, it planted 14 and removed 92.

The city's Tree Board wants to reverse such imbalances by re-establishing a fund that was exhausted more than a year ago, according to city landscape architect Liza Hill.

Tree Board chairwoman Barb Farrior requested last week that the city replenish the fund so that trees in public spaces can be planted and maintained. Hill said the fund also could be used if the city wins tree-related grants that require local matches.

Public Works director Isiah Smalls said fewer trees were planted because of funding cuts. More trees were removed because they were dying, and residents requested they be cut down.

Hill said the original fund came from donations and fees from a handful of projects. Farrior proposed rebuilding the fund with donations, tree-removal permit fees and fines paid when trees are removed without a permit.

According to the board, tree-removal permits bring in about $460 a month for the city and make up about 2 percent of the total fees it collects. The board also suggested that Beaufort City Council consider increasing those fees.

A resolution to double the fees is up for a vote at Tuesday's council meeting. Revenue from the increase would go directly to the tree fund, according to the resolution.

Currently, it costs a homeowner $20 to get a permit to remove one or two trees and up to $200 to remove more than 40. For businesses or multi-family properties, it costs $35 for a permit to remove one or two trees and up to $300 to remove more than 40.

Farrior said it costs about $250 to plant a 2.5-inch-thick tree, but that cost could be cut significantly by creating a tree nursery in Southside Park. She estimated it would cost about $2,000 to start.

The nursery would be small and start with about 50 trees, Hill said. If approved by city officials, she said, the nursery's planting could coincide with the city's December Arbor Day celebration.

It would take about three years for the trees to mature enough to be replanted in public spaces around the city, she said.

"Admittedly, this is many years down the road, but you have to start somewhere," Hill said.

Related content:

Tree board considers tougher rules on tree cutting

Board examines rules to preserve more trees

Waterfront trees have city officials concerned

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