Old town Bluffton tree work to begin this week

Residents of old town Bluffton may soon be hearing the roar of tree-cutting equipment.

A local tree care company will begin removing 17 hazardous trees this week. The work is expected to take about two weeks.

It won't require road closures, said Adam Cosgrove of Hilton Head Island-based Greenkeeper Expert Tree Care, although there will be cranes, chainsaws and wood chippers for drivers to avoid. The work will cost about $4,000, Cosgrove said.

As the dead and older trees come down, new ones will soon be sprouting up.

The town is weighing bids for tree planting from area nurseries. Among the trees are elms, oaks, red buds and dogwoods.

The two initiatives are among several new projects designed to protect and enhance Bluffton's tree canopies and, town officials hope, help earn a Tree City, USA, designation.

The title, awarded by the Arbor Day Foundation and the USDA Forest Service, would give the town additional grant-earning power, according to facilities management director Tammy Malone.

Before the town can apply, it must create a tree board or department, implement rules for tree care, start a community forestry program and observe Arbor Day, which is on the last Friday in April.

Toward that end, town council recently appointed a tree committee and charged it with planning an ordinance for the care of public trees. Committee members have also been working on a master tree plan -- which would catalogue all of the town's forestry -- to protect the health and implement upkeep of the trees in the future.

Committee member Dave Waugh said the new rules will deal with placement, maintenance and beautification of trees on public property.

"It just seems like a good thing to do for the community," he said.