Jackson County

Old oaks shading downtown Ocean Springs are priceless

These trees are important to the economy of Ocean Springs — the Live oaks that shade the downtown shopping district.

While dealing with rot problems in the huge Live oak outside Lovelace Drugs, the city decided to order a thorough evaluation off all 75 that line Washington Avenue south of U.S. 90.

The assessment by professional arborists started Monday.

The city’s Tree Committee “is thrilled,” said Chairwoman Melanie Allen. “The heritage Live oaks are iconic to downtown Ocean Springs. The trees create the atmosphere. They are such an asset to our city, we applaud the city’s efforts to take care of them.”

David Fulgham, with Fulgham’s Inc., has a team measuring, numbering and assessing each of the downtown oaks. They are setting up an inventory, a database of information on each tree that the city can access and update. It will list the condition of each tree, which is now numbered with a little metal tag. It will list potential hazards the tree presents.

The company will then produce an extensive written report, with recommendations, and also put the data into an online software system set up by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, called i-Tree.

Two trees that Fulgham had tagged for special consideration Monday afternoon were near the intersection of Washington Avenue and Government Street. One is the tree at Lovelace Drugs with a heavy top limb that lacks healthy, solid wood in the trunk for support. The other one is two trees down, that seems to infested with what may be termites.

“These trees belong to the people of Ocean Springs, we’re just providing data,” he said.

“This is the heart of the town and these trees are what attracts everyone,” he said. He said the evaluation is a start, but “there needs to be somebody looking out for them.”

He said the trees need consistent attention, something the database may begin to help with.