Jekyll Island Project Receives Urban Arboriculture Grand Award From Georgia Urban Forest Council
The Georgia Urban Forest Council has recognized the remarkable tree preservation efforts on Jekyll Island by presenting its 2013 Grand Award for Outstanding Urban Arboriculture to Atlanta’s Arborguard Inc., the tree specialists who played the lead role in the mammoth protection effort.
During Jekyll Island’s dramatic revitalization program, a top priority has been the preservation of the majestic live oaks that are a trademark of coastal Georgia’s barrier island chain and treasured by Jekyll Island’s residents and guests.
Thanks to an ambitious, carefully conceived conservation plan, the project team that included Arborguard and architect HHCP, out of Orlando, Fla., successfully transplanted 30 mature live oaks and securely protected in place another 34 as construction on the new convention center and beach village commenced.
Standing as a monument to the entire conservation effort, one exceptional, approximately 80-year-old oak – dubbed the Mother Earth Tree – now proudly stands in the center of a new, specially designed roundabout.
The award was presented to Arborguard Thursday (Oct. 24) during the 23rd Georgia Urban Forest Council Annual Conference and Awards Program.
Arborguard prides itself on a specialized approach to tree care that “provides natural solutions to problems between people and trees.”
“We were looking for a sustainable approach to this assignment,” stated Cliff J. Gawron, Director of Landscape and Planning, Jekyll Island Authority. “We wanted to avoid the use conventional, chemical methods that would produce a more-artificial, more-sterile soil environment. We were drawn to Arborguard’s hands-on use of organic materials in the care of these magnificent live oaks.”
The $500,000 tree project included the transplanting of two large live oaks, each about three feet wide, during a small window in the construction timeframe. Crews had just 48 hours to spade and move them approximately 150 yards by sled, and then replant.
“It was exciting,” Gawron recalled. “A lot of prayers were said during that one.”
A meticulous, ongoing aftercare program remains integral to the tree project, Gawron said.
“The considerable effort to protect these trees fits naturally with the Jekyll Island Authority’s stewardship mission,” said Jekyll Island Authority Executive Director Jones Hooks. “These beautiful oaks are an invaluable asset and we hired the best team to handle the job. We are proud to be recognized for its success.”
Of the 30 live oak trees – ranging in circumference from 14 inches to 37 inches – that were relocated, all but two have survived.
All told, well more than 300 trees, including cabbage palms, date palms and crape myrtles, have been saved and relocated. Together with new plantings of mature live oaks, date palms and other native species, the beach village and new Great Dunes Park have a healthy, established canopy providing shade, beauty and habitat to this public space.