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Public-private partnership involving City of Aiken discusses plan to trim South Boundary's live oaks

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The trimming of large trees in Aiken often creates angst and sparks outrage among the residents who love them.

And they become even more upset when limbs are removed from the majestic live oaks along South Boundary Avenue.

The latest round of pruning in that location is scheduled to begin in early November, but Bartlett Tree Experts will be doing the work instead of a power company.

“We know this is an emotional issue, and we really have been working with the city and with Bartlett to make sure that we don’t have a utility cut situation and we do it as artfully as we possibly can,” said Joanna Dunn Samson of the Aiken Land Conservancy on Tuesday during an event at Winthrop Polo Field on Mead Avenue.

Its purpose was to give people who live in the South Boundary area and others the opportunity to find out more about what is going to be done, to see a live oak at Winthrop that already had been partially trimmed and to ask questions.

On hand were Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon and City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh.

Also present were several City Council members along with Aaron Campbell, who is Aiken’s grounds supervisor and horticulturist.

Speakers in addition to Samson, Campbell and Osbon included Bartlett representatives and Dacre Stoker, executive director of Aiken Streetscapes.

“These trees, we all don’t like cutting them,” Stoker said, “but if we don’t do a little bit of selective pruning, really careful pruning, then we’ll have rot that comes into them, and they’ll do things that we don’t want them to do. And that is just to fall down and fall on people and fall on cars and fall on horses.”

Trimming also is necessary to keep the trees’ branches high enough above roadways to satisfy state requirements.

In a public-private partnership, the City of Aiken has teamed up with the Land Conservancy and Streetscapes, founded by local tree advocate Rob Johnston, to protect and nurture South Boundary’s live oaks and other trees in Aiken.

“It really is a partnership that was born out of our love of this community and one of its most important assets – if not the most important asset – our beautiful, grand trees,” Osbon said.

Among the efforts to preserve the live oaks along South Boundary is a project to place power lines underground.

Earlier this year, the live oaks there were fertilized, Stoker said, and other steps were taken to enhance the health and growth of their roots.

Pruning will take place in two phases.

During the phase that starts next month, Bartlett will trim the live oaks on South Boundary from Williamsburg Street to Banks Mill Road, Stoker said.

Then, next year, Bartlett will prune the trees from Williamsburg to Whiskey Road.

“It is painful to prune some of these trees,” Samson said. “But we fear if we don’t take care of them now, they will not live as long as they possibly could under our stewardship.”

The ultimate goal, Campbell said, is "to preserve these trees for future generations."

Founded in 1907, Bartlett Tree Experts has more than 100 offices worldwide, according to it website.

Bartlett conducted a tree inventory for Aiken and developed a management plan that it presented to City Council in April 2018.

“We’re bringing people in from different offices to help us do this in a timely manner and a safe manner,” said Bartlett’s Bobby Frelix while discussing the plan to trim South Boundary’s live oaks.


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