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PCR #138  (Vol. 3, No. 46)  This edition is for the week of November 11--17, 2002.

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TREE's 20th Anniversary planting

On Saturday November 9, 2002, nine exceptionally dedicated volunteers along with myself worked in unseasonably warm weather in order to provide Florida's motorists and environment with 600 native trees along Interstate 4 in Hillsborough County. 500 Slash Pines and 25 Pignut Hickories were planted at the I-4/County Line Road interchange and 54 Green ash and 46 Baldcypress were planted at a retention pond located between Eureka Springs Road, Interstate 4 and the Tampa Bypass Canal.

Allow me to publicly recognize and thank these volunteers for their exemplary work and for their selfless commitment to the well being of Florida's future!

Bob Scheible, Vice President and Founding Member of T.R.E.E. Inc.
Greg Howe, Founding Member of T.R.E.E. Inc.
Kathy Howe, Honorary Lifetime Member, T.R.E.E. Inc.
John Campbell, Florida Division of Forestry
Rick Strickland, Secretary and Volunteer Coordinator, T.R.E.E. Inc.
Debbie Butts, Lifetime Member, T.R.E.E. Inc.
Kimberly Denton, Member, T.R.E.E. Inc.
Harvey Hunt, Member, T.R.E.E. Inc., Florida Department of Transportation
Jen Teagarden, Academy of Holy Names
Back to the Beginning
On a cold Sunday evening in December 1982, Tampa residents Bob Scheible, Nancy Buckley, and Greg Van Stavern, along with Clearwater residents William Moriaty and Greg Howe, met at the Mexican Burro restaurant on Gandy Boulevard in south Tampa in an effort to create a non-profit tree planting organization similar to that of the TreePeople of Los Angeles, California (http://www.treepeople.org/). This effort was in large part recommended by J. Michael Callahan, a landscape architect with the City of Tampa Parks Department. Mr. Callahan believed that our previous eight years experience of tree growing and planting efforts on a public scale could act as a valuable adjunct in the City's desire to initiate large scale reforesting prior to Tampa's first Super Bowl event (Super Bowl XVIII of January 1984). Articles of Incorporation were drafted shortly after this meeting, and on February 16, 1983, the Secretary of State of Florida declared the Tampa Reforestation and Environmental Effort, Inc., as a bona fide and legal Florida corporation.

T.R.E.E. Inc. Highlights
This incorporation would lead to what has heretofore been close to twenty years of volunteer planting efforts that have yielded 150 planting projects utilizing over 41,000 native Florida trees, planted by over 1,000 volunteers. Although our trees have been planted as far away as Iowa, North Carolina and Tennessee, and in Tallahassee and Gainesville, Florida, the majority of our trees have been planted in the Tampa Bay Florida region.

Our most notable initiative was an annual Interstate highway-planting event called "T.R.E.E. Day on I-75" held each Florida Arbor Day from January 1986 to January 1996. In it, over 4,600 trees utilizing over 400 volunteers and dozens of organizations were planted in Hillsborough County at the I-4, East Crosstown (now Lee Roy Selmon) Expressway and U.S. 301 interchanges, as well as at 127th Avenue (Old Morris Bridge Road). No other consecutive type of tree planting on Florida's roadsides had ever been attempted or surpassed in Florida history.

In addition, other notable projects included the planting of a Famous and Historic Tree Grove (http://www.historictrees.org/) at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa (http://www.mosi.org/) on November 16, 1996.

The Tree Grove is located in the southwest corner of the M.O.S.I. complex and includes such trees as the Mount Vernon American Holly, Walden Woods River Birch, Henry Ford Sycamore, George Washington Carver Persimmon, Helen Keller Water Oak, Orville and Wilbur Wright Sweetgum, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sycamore and a second generation Moon Sycamore (http//nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/moon_tree.html) that is a descendent from Sycamore seeds brought to the Moon aboard Apollo 14 in 1971 by astronaut Stuart Roosa. Other plantings have occurred at the Pinellas Oasis rail in Dunedin, Mead Botanical gardens in Winter Park, Kelly Park in Apopka, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville, Leu Gardens in Orlando, Walt Disney World, Ozona Elementary cool in Palm Harbor, Eisenhower Elementary School in Clearwater, Swann Circle Park in Tampa, Al Lopez Park in Tampa, an annual Florida Arbor Day event in Dade City, Picnic Island Park and numerous other sites.

Name Change
In order to accommodate our Pinellas County members, T.R.E.E. Inc. changed its corporate name to Tampa Bay Reforestation and Environmental Effort in 1991. That same year T.R.E.E. Inc. was granted 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service.

Slash Pines and truck
Slash Pines await loading onto a Division of Forestry skid truck at the T.R.E.E. Inc. nursery on Friday November 8, 2002.
plant-ready Baldcypress and Green Ash
Containerized Baldcypress and Green Ash in their plant-ready positions at Pond 5-2, Friday, November 8, 2002.
Back to the Future
That was then, and this is now. As Founding Members ranged in age from their early twenties to mid thirties, we now range in age from our early forties to mid fifties. The volunteer fervor of the early and mid 1980's that helped propel the cause of our organization has largely diminished. The starry-eyed idealism of our youth has given way to the middle aged reality of long hours at our jobs, that the world has changed pretty dramatically, and that our physical limitations are growing as we have aged.

Anatomy of a Tree Planting
To plant trees on public land takes a great deal of time, coordination and hard manual labor, particularly when it is occurring along a Federal Aid Interstate highway facility. Construction-ready plans drawn to scale must first be reviewed by the Florida Department of Transportation for compliance to safety and operational requirements. Next, these plans must be sent to all utilities located within or nearby the proposed planting sites. Once all of this information has met with approval, the DOT issues written permission, granting the permitttee authorization to conduct the work.

Mobilization
On Friday November 8th, Mister Bob Der, Hillsborough County Forester, and Mister John Campbell and Corey McGowan with the Florida Division of Forestry, along with myself, loaded the project's 600 trees from T.R.E.E. Inc.'s nursery onto a Forestry skid truck, which typically hauls bulldozers to wildfire sites.

Misters Campbell and McGowan did outstanding hard helping in this mobilization effort, dropping the trees off at the three planting sites. My workday of mobilizing this effort began at 6:00 A.M. and ended at 5:00 P.M.

Greg and Kathy Howe
Greg and Kathy Howe get an early morning start in order to set out 500 Slash Pines and 25 Pignut Hickories into plant-ready positions for volunteers on Saturday, November 9, 2002.
The Day of the Big Event
At 7:00 A.M. on Saturday November 9, 2002, I met fellow T.E.E.E. Inc. members Greg and Kathy Howe at the Shell gasoline station on County Line Road near the I-4 interchange. We would meet our other volunteers at this same location three hours later. The three of us moved the 500 Slash Pines and 25 Pignut Hickories into their precise planting locations so that once the volunteers arrived, they would simply plant the trees where they found them. Bob Scheible, T.R.E.E. Inc.'s Vice President and Founding Member was the first to show up around 9:00 .M., followed by Division of Forestry employee John Campbell who was so moved by our efforts that he dedicated his morning ours on his dime to help us plant. God Bless you John Campbell! By 10:00 A.M., the remainder of volunteers trickled in.

Volunteers
Volunteers wrap up the planting at the I-4/County line Road interchange.
The Turnout
In the 1980's we would have anywhere from 40 to 100 volunteers for such an event. This day, only a total of ten would be on hand to plant 600 trees in temperatures hovering in the high eighties. On board for the 20th Anniversary event were three of T.R.E.E. Inc.'s four Founding Members-me, Bob Scheible and Greg Howe. I want to express my deepest thanks for Bob and Greg's unwavering support and hard work these past two decades. Bob deserves much praise for his incredible job of running our nursery where over 41,000 trees have come and gone in order to be used in public planting projects in the Bay area. I cannot thank Greg and Kathy Howe enough for bringing their trailer and expediting he mobilization effort that morning, and also to Harvey Hunt with the Florida Department of Transportation who also volunteered and has supported our efforts for ten of our past twenty years. Also worth mentioning were the efforts of T.R.E.E. Inc. Secretary and Volunteer Coordinator Rick Strickland, new member Kimberly Denton (who heard about us as a result of watching The World of Nolan this past April!) and Jen Teagarden from the Academy of Holy Names.

group shot!
A break time shot at the I-4/County line Road interchange. From l - r: Jen Teagarden, William Moriaty, Rick Strickland, Debbie Butts, Greg Howe and Kimberly Denton.
The Last Hurrah
John Campbell and Harvey hunt left by noon in order to attend other commitments. Bob Scheible, who is the Chief Horticulturist of the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, had to leave by 1:00 P.M. in order to go back to work. It was 1:00 p/M/ by the time the last tree was planted at the I-4/County Line Road interchange. From there, the dedicated final four volunteers, Greg and Kathy Howe, Rick Strickland and Kimberly Denton, along with myself, went to the last planting site 15 miles west at Pond #5-2 next to the Tampa Bypass Canal. At 4:00 P.M., Greg Howe and I jointly planted the last tree of the project, a Baldcypress. By 4:30 P.M. the last of the empty tree containers was put away at the T.R.E.E. Inc. nursery.

In Closing
Although one of the longest projects, Beautification Project #141-02 was over, done in the utmost of safety by the most dedicated, hard working and sincere people that I have ever had the privilege to know. This will probably be the last such project in the foreseeable future, but a 20th Anniversary planting is worthy of going out with a bang and not a whimper, although it cost us plenty of charley horses and muscle cramps for the next two days. In addition, the Florida Department of Transportation is now using 1.5% of its construction budget on roadway landscaping, so in a sense, what we set out to do twenty years ago has basically put this part of our operation out of business.

Greg and Kathy Howe
Greg and Kathy Howe take a much needed and earned rest during lunch at the I-4/County Line Road interchange.
As I surveyed the nearly empty T.R.E.E. Inc. nursery all that remained were 250 1-gallon Slash Pines earmarked for repotting this upcoming January and slated for planting at a newly constructed recreational trail in the Town N Country area in Hillsborough County by this next fall or the winter of 2004. Additionally, 500 bare root native trees will be potted up in January for eventual out planting at a Hillsborough County ELAPP sometime in 2004.

Interstate plantings may be a thing of the past, but T.R.E.E. Inc.'s commitment to the future well being of the urban and rural forest isn't. I am proud that we have provided the public with close to $100,000.00 of in-kind services in the past twenty years all at no cost to the Florida tax payer, and all without monetary compensation to T.R.E.E. Inc. Directors or volunteers. This monumental undertaking has truly been the purist measure of the volunteer spirit.

Tomorrow's forest

Again, thank you Bob, Greg, Kathy, John, Rick, Debbie, Kimberly, Harvey and Jen for your superb efforts!

At left: Tomorrow's forest at the I-4/County Line Road interchange.

All photos for this story by William Moriaty and Kathy Howe, processed by Karen Cashon.


"La Floridiana" is ©2002 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  The TREE header graphic atop this page is based upon William Moriaty's originally-designed logo: this version is from a proposed homepage design for a TREE website by Nolan B. Canova   All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2002 by Nolan B. Canova.