The Tifton Tree Board was awarded the Georgia Tree Council 2023 Outstanding Civic Organization Grand Award, recognizing the board for exceptional efforts in protecting and promoting their community’s urban forest. Each recipient received a framed print of an original painting, “Oaks on Broadway,” by the late artist Barry Nehr, commissioned for the Georgia Tree Council. Hillery Culpepper, City of Tifton’s Main Street Manager, submitted the award nomination.
“The environmental and health benefits that trees bring to an area are invaluable,” said Mary Lynne Beckley, Executive Director of the Georgia Tree Council, “and the Tifton Tree Board has worked diligently to ensure those benefits are available to their community through a healthy tree canopy.” The Georgia Tree Council, a non-profit organization with the mission of sustaining Georgia’s green legacy, brings educational programs, leadership, and resources to maintain healthy trees in towns and cities across the state. Their Excellence in Urban Forestry Awards Program honors individuals and organizations for their outstanding work in protecting and enhancing our community forests.
The Tifton Tree Board, established over 20 years ago, advises city officials and the community on the care, preservation, pruning, planting, replanting, removal, and disposition of trees and shrubs within the city. Over 1,000 trees have been planted since the board’s establishment, with 160 being planted this year. Current members of the Tifton Tree Board are Jimmy Felton, Todd Green, Elizabeth McCarty, Al Potts, Dr. George Vellidis, and city employee liaison Michael Mitchem. The board is also dedicated to securing resources to aid their mission. In 2021, the board was awarded a grant through the Southwest Georgia ReLeaf Program that provided funding to plant 165 trees, replacing those lost due to Hurricane Michael in 2018. Just last month the board was awarded $13,715 from the Georgia ReLeaf Program to plant trees in in disadvantage areas of Tifton. An additional grant applied for this year is through Trees Across Georgia. It would provide funding for the City of Tifton to hire a full-time position responsible for community outreach and tree maintenance, continued planting along rights of way within Tifton’s disadvantaged areas, and the removal of mature trees at the end of their life span.
Currently, the Tifton Tree Board and the City of Tifton, with the assistance of Green Infrastructure Center Inc., are working to develop a plan to recover and manage Tifton’s tree canopy and urban forest. Over the next six months, the Tifton Tree Board and a citizen steering committee will work to create a strategy for increasing and managing the City’s tree canopy. This initiative will help maximize the community’s beauty, ecology, and economy. Trees are vital to ensuring the health and vibrance of our community. The City of Tifton applauds the Tifton Tree Board for their continuous efforts to strengthen and beautify our community.
The Tifton Tree Board accepted the 2023 Outstanding Civic Organization Grand Award on October 25th and the City of Tifton recognized the Board during the November 6th Council Meeting.