TUPELO – More than 650 trees now dot one of the busiest highway interchanges in Northeast Mississippi thanks to a joint beautification project.
And an additional 250 trees are being planted downtown to replenish the city’s aging urban forest.
The Tupelo Public Works Department is heading up both projects.
“This is really going to make a difference,” said David Knight, right-of-way and grounds supervisor for the Public Works Department, as he watched young pines go into the ground Tuesday morning.
The larger of the two projects involves the cloverleaf connecting U.S. Highway 45 and U.S. Highway 78 near the Barnes Crossing shopping district. The previously barren interchange now boasts a variety of saplings that will one day grow into lush leafy trees.
Autumn Blaze red maples, loblolly pines, Natchez crape myrtles and Tuscarora crape myrtles hug the shoulders and populate the grassy rights of way.
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.
“He was integral part for us kicking this off,” Cochran said. “And it’s going to be stunningly beautiful.”
Trees for the second project – to repopulate the downtown area – came from the municipal tree farm, and 165 of them will be planted along Main Street.
The will be distributed through various central neighborhoods, Knight said.
An additional 450 trees will be planted at the city’s tree farm to replace those dug up for the repopulation effort.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal