By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Hundreds of trees swaying at the interchange at U.S. Highways 45 and 78 interchange have earned Tupelo top honors from the Mississippi Urban Forest Council.
The organization recently presented the city with its Best Urban Forestry Project award for having planted some 650 trees at the region’s busiest cloverleaf.
“Tupelo has been doing urban forestry a long time, and they’re very progressive for it,” said Donna V. Yowell, the council’s executive director. “Trees provide a lot of benefits for communities.”
Autumn Blaze red maples, loblolly pines, Natchez crape myrtles and Tuscarora crape myrtles now hug the shoulders and populate the grassy rights of way at the interchange.
The $37,200 project was a joint effort of the city, the Community Development Foundation, the Mississippi Forestry Commission and Mike Patel of La Quinta.
Patel funded a majority of the project through the city’s tree preservation program, said city Environmental Planner Sherrie Cochran.
The program charges developers a fee for each large tree they remove when building a property, such as the new La Quinta on North Gloster Street.
“Not knowing exactly what the quantities are leaving our city, we’re planting as much back as we can put back due to available manpower and resources,” said Public Works Director Sid Russell.
Russell last week presented Mayor Jack Reed Jr. with the council’s award – a statue of a small tree perched atop a rock.
“I join with all of our citizens in thanking the Tupelo Public Works
Department for their leadership in urban forestry,” Reed said. “There are many beautiful towns and cities in Mississippi, I’m proud that Tupelo’s efforts were recognized as the best in the state this year. This is part of reaching our vision for attractive public spaces.”