By Erik Onstott
The Orange Leader
Southeast Texas homeowners who lost trees to Hurricane Rita will soon get assistance restoring some of that lost greenery.
Starting today, homeowners in six Southeast Texas counties may register with Operation Green Streets. The program, a project of the Texas Forest Service funded by the U.S. Forest Service, has been under way since July of last year. It involves pruning and clearing out damaged trees in the counties hard-hit by Hurricane Rita, as well as planting new trees on public and private properties in the area.
Homeowners who live within the city limits of incorporated cities in Orange, Jefferson, Hardin, Tyler, Newton and Jasper counties are eligible to have one tree planted in their yards under the program. Interested people may sign up via the Internet, telephone, or via postcards to be distributed in the area.
The registration period starting today is for the first Green Streets Day on Nov. 10; the deadline to register for this day is Oct. 5. The second and final Green Streets Day is on Feb. 9, 2008. Registration for the second Green Streets Day begins Nov. 1, with a deadline of Jan. 11, 2008.
Homeowners who sign up for the program must pledge to water the tree once a week for two years, said Karen Woodard of the Texas Forest Service.
“You can sign up for either day, but there will only be one tree per homeowner allowed,” she said.
Homeowners will also be required to show valid identification the day of the event, and the tree must be planted in the homeowner’s front yard.
The Texas Forest Service, assisted by volunteers from various organizations, will distribute the trees from 13 sites throughout the six counties. Homeowners may choose the site closest to their homes — even if that site is in a different county — if they register via phone or the web; otherwise, they must pick up their tree in a designated site for their respective counties.
PIck-up sites will be at Riverfront Park in Orange; the Newton County Fairgrounds; Ozen High School, Central High School and West Brook High School and the Region V Education Service Center in Beaumont; Nederland High School and Port Neches-Groves High School in Mid-County; Memorial High School and Lamar State College-Port Arthur; Silsbee Middle School; the Lions Rodeo Grounds in Jasper; and the Woodville ISD headquarters.
Site setup for the event will be from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.; volunteers will hand out pre--registered trees from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; the trees left over will be handed out from 2 to 3 p.m; and event sites will be cleaned up from 3 to 4 p.m.
“We’ll have a limit of 500 trees for each site for each day,” Woodard said. “We might have more, but the limit is mostly because of the volunteers; this is the first time for them to do this, and I didn’t want them to feel overwhelmed. I still need more volunteers if anyone wants to sign up.”
According to the Operation Green Streets Web site, homeowners will be able to choose between four species of trees: a Southern magnolia, a live oak, a Shumard oak or sweetgum tree.
For more information, to register for a tree or to volunteer for one of the Green Streets Days, go to operationgreenstreets.tamu.edu or call 877-512-TREE (8733).
Reach this reporter at 409-883-3571, Ext. 2616 or email@example.com