By TAMMY KEARCE
The longleaf pine tree located at the DeFuniak Springs tennis court will not be removed.
“That tree will not be cut down,” said DFS City Manager Robert Thompson in response to a question by resident Glen Harrison about the future of the tree, which had been tagged for removal earlier this year. The discussion took place at the March 3 meeting of the DFS City Beautification and Tree Board.
Initially, the city was concerned about the tree leaning and posing a safety hazard should it fall, but research proved that the tree has been leaning since Hurricane Eloise in 1975. And “barring, signs of sickness or disease, it should not pose a safety risk. The longleaf pine is one of the most stable of all trees with multiple taproots,” explained Longleaf Alliance Project Manager Ed O’Daniels.
“They are special trees,” said Harrison. “They provide shade and habitat, as well as serving a vital role in the beauty of the town.”
“The longleaf pine is the cornerstone of the area’s natural ecosystem,” agreed O’Daniels.
Unfortunately, another longleaf pine in the same area was removed by Florida Power and Light, formerly known as Gulf Power, which has the legal right to remove trees along their easement. However, that decision was made by the utility company and not the city of DeFuniak Springs. “I am not looking to take down trees,” Thompson said.
In other business, the board determined that the Spring Clean event will take place on the west side of DeFuniak Springs between Live Oak Avenue and Bob Sikes Road, and east of 19th Street on April 26 between 9 a.m. and noon. Everyone is encouraged to come take part in the event and help keep DeFuniak Springs beautiful. For registration information, visit the DeFuniak Springs Beautification Trees and Parks Group on Facebook where residents are invited to join and participate in discussions related to city beautification.
“This kind of event can make a big difference in the litter that we see on roadways,” said DeFuniak Springs Mayor Bob Campbell. “We hope it will inspire citizens and business owners to keep their areas clean and set a standard in the community.”