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Posted: August 16, 2014 10:00 p.m.

The beauty of oak trees

I am sure most of you saw the picture in The Covington News of the large tree limb which fell into Floyd Street recently. The limb is gone and so is the tree and another large tree that was in the same yard. Every time I drive down Floyd Street and pass where those trees were I get a jolt. It just doesn’t look right. It’s like buying a new piece of furniture. Every time you enter the room that piece of furniture jumps out at you. The empty space where those trees were just jumps out at me.

I am mourning the loss of the trees, but I understand the necessity of their loss.

Don’t get me wrong, if I were a home owner and a large old tree was dying and threatened the safety of my home, I would have the tree or trees cut down as well. In fact, we have had to have two trees cut down. One was an elm. It succumbed to Dutch elm disease. But not without a fight. It even had a shot given to it by experts from the University of Georgia Agriculture Department. I am not kidding. An actual shot. It took several days.

I can remember when almost all of Floyd Street from the Square to Dearing was covered by overarching trees. It made for a beautiful and cooling respite in the middle of summer. In the last couple of years at least three of those trees are gone. Much of that area on Floyd bakes in the summer sun now.

Several decades ago the city of Oxford made headlines in The Covington News by installing a different kind of curbing along Emory Street. The curbing was experimental and designed to save the tree roots on the trees lining that street.
Just recently the majority of those trees were cut down, in what appears to me, to make way for a sidewalk. I could be wrong. Maybe those trees were diseased as well.

A recent plan for the Square also wanted to cut down trees there. The plan stated that the magnolia tree on the square was reaching the end of its life and that it would soon become diseased and need removal. It was also noted that a replacement tree, a magnolia, was being grown to replace the one on the Square.

My husband and I recently drove to Madison. As we drove down the main street, I could not help but notice that there the trees still overarch the street. The downtown area is charming and full of businesses and restaurants that seem to be doing the well.

A sidewalk exists with the trees, and in places the sidewalk goes around exiting trees. All this greenery and shade makes the business area of the city that much more inviting.

I don’t know why or how Madison has been able to save its old trees. And their destruction may well be imminent.
Out of all this rambling about trees, I find one thing heartening. The fact that the city of Covington, and Billy Bouchillon in particular, has the future of the city’s Square in hand and is growing a replacement magnolia.

I’d like the city to expand on that idea. I believe most of the large old trees that recently have died or are dying on the city’s rights of way are oaks.

When they die, the city is good about replacing them. However, most of them are replaced with dogwoods which do not grow as tall and are not as magnificent as the trees which they replace. Even if an oak is planted in the place of its deceased predecessor, the oak is barely a sapling.

If the city can be preparing replacement magnolias, why can’t it grow replacement oaks? When a large tree dies, the city can then replace it with a tree much larger than a sapling.

We may be losing our trees and shade, but we can replace them if we value the beauty of our streets.

Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be contacted at pnbtravis@att.net.

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