Georgia Tree Planting a SuccessBy Victoria A. Rocha | ECT Staff Writer Published: June 2nd, 2011
It took about two years and 150,000 hardwood seedlings, but a Georgia natural landmark is getting a new start, thanks to a partnership between a generation cooperative and state forest officials.
Oglethorpe Power Corp., Tucker, and the Georgia Forestry Commission recently celebrated the completion of an almost 400-acre replanting effort in the Dixon Memorial State Forest with the dedication of a sign commemorating the project. The sign is located in one of the replanted areas on Highway 177, the main entrance road to Okefenokee Swamp Park, which borders the forest.
The project was finished about four years after devastating wildfires in the Okefenokee Swamp charred hundreds of acres in the 33,000-acre forest in 2007. Oglethorpe Power Corp. and the forestry commission began replanting the swamp’s wetlands area in 2009.
“Thanks to the partnership with Oglethorpe Power, this reforestation project helps heal a wound in this community left by one of the worst wildfires in our state’s history,” said Robert Farris, director of the Georgia Forestry Commission. “As these new trees continue to grow, so will the benefits to the environment, wildlife and the community as a whole.”
Oglethorpe Power got involved in the reforestation project when it learned that the state lacked money to replant the forest’s wetlands after concentrating on the uplands part. OPC stepped in to help the agency and over several seasons spent more than $300,000 on seedlings and manpower.
“The replanted areas should grow more quickly than areas left to natural regeneration,” said Boyd Vaughan, contract principal environmental specialist at OPC. “We believe these types of projects could be an important means for cooperatives to offset their carbon dioxide emissions in the future.”
Now that the planting is over, Oglethorpe Power will monitor the seedlings’ progress in two areas. “We plan to do a high-level visual inspection every year to assess survival, and periodically we’ll do measurements to determine the amount of carbon actually sequestered in the trees,” said Vaughan.