Inaugural New Year Tree Planting kicks off on IOP

The holiday season has rich traditions in the East Cooper area.

A new one marked its humble beginning − not unlike the now-massive Dunleavy’s Pub Polar Bear Plunge in 1995 − on the first Saturday of 2020: The New Year Tree Planting.

Climate Reality Charleston − a group organized to promote and support clean energy and transportation and a healthy, thriving community, nation and planet − spearheaded the event and East Cooper-based New Leaf Tree Service sponsored it.

Held on a rainy day, the event drew about 25 participants − the largest contingent from the Isle of Palms City Council and staff. Among elected officials planting trees were Mayor Jimmy Carroll and councilmembers Susan Hill Smith, Ryan Buckhannon, Jimmy Ward and Rusty Streetman.

Seven live Oak trees were planted at the Isle of Palms Recreation Center, mostly near the playground. Also, a bald cypress was planted in the Forest Trail community.

The event was intended to celebrate the critical role trees play in our lives and in drawing down greenhouse gases in our atmosphere in the challenging decades to come.

Isle of Palms native Belvin Olasov, chapter chairman of Climate Reality Charleston, said he stays up to date on new creative, science-based solutions to climate change.

But Olasov said one of the most effective “bioengineering method of capturing carbon ... and preventing erosion and flooding” has existed for a long time.

“It’s called a tree,” said Olasov, noting that one tree can absorb 10 pounds of pollutants for a year and produce 260 pounds of oxygen (enough for two people).

The trees were purchased − at retail price − from local nurseries on Awendaw and James Island.

Jessica and Marcelo Pares, owners of New Leaf Tree Service, said that in the past they made annual donations to the National Arbor Day Foundation, located in Lincoln, Neb. But when approached by Climate Reality Charleston to redirect funds to local tree plantings, they didn’t hesitate to do so. They hope to continue the collaboration for future plantings.

Carroll said he envisions several other future opportunities for community tree plantings; including at the Municipal Parking Lot near the Ocean Boulevard Commercial District.

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