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Seeking Acadiana’s Largest Live Oak!

In preparing for its 2011 annual general meeting, TreesAcadiana challenges the community to find the ten largest live oak trees in the eight-parish area.  This would include Lafayette Parish, as well as Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, St Landry St Martin St Mary, Vermilion.  Live Oaks registered with the Live Oak Society span many states, from the east coast all the way to Texas.  In canvassing Lafayette Parish, members of TreesAcadiana measured two trees in excess of 31 feet in circumference (measured 4 feet from the base of the tree).  The organization welcomes public participation.  People can bring documentation of their finds to the meeting at Pack and Paddle on March 22 at 6 PM, or they can mail them to be received before that date to be considered in the ranking to be published later in the year.  There are a number of significant projects underway that may make use of this information. 

Arborist Steve A. Shurtz of Baton Rouge Department of City Works will present at Pack and Paddle for the TreesAcadiana 2011 General Meeting on March 22.

Steve A. Shurtz, Urban Forestry and Landscape Manager for the East Baton Rouge City-Parish Department of Public Works, will address the group as keynote speaker with his focus on Louisiana’s heritage live oaks.  Steve has twice served as president of the Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA), is a past president of the Louisiana Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), was recently elected to the Board of Trustees of the ASLA, and is currently President of the Louisiana Urban Forestry Council. He recently completed his second term as a member of the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council (NUCFAC), an advisory group to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

One topic to be addressed is a proposal to change the state tree from the Cypress, a species which has been all but eradicated from the Louisiana landscape due to clear cutting the continuing liberties taken by mulch production.   Had the majesty of Louisiana’s cypress trees been recognized and protected earlier, the trees would compare to the giant sequoias of California.  Just as important, more visible and widely adapted to the terrain and climate of Louisiana, TreesAcadiana sees the change as a positive move to protect a tree that characterizes our hope for the future.  “The Live Oak better symbolizes the heritage of Louisiana,” said Harold Schoeffler, Sierra Club’s Acadiana Group Chairman, Scout Master and board member of TreesAcadiana.

TreesAcadiana and Guardian of the Oaks have been invited to attend the ground breaking for the roadwork to begin near the Youngsville Heritage Oak on March 14 at 1:15 PM.   The event will take place at the junction of Highways 89 and 92, where the proposed traffic circle nearly cost the City of Youngsville a historical landmark with Council’s plans to cut down the tree by the house built by one of Youngsville’s earliest settlers, Dr. Roy Young.  The Youngsville victory, as well as the unfolding chapter in the Master Plan  for the University of Louisiana- Lafayette, as well as the decision by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to move the Mr.  Al Oak, located east of New Iberia on Highway 90 near Freyou Road, has brought increased awareness of Louisiana’s heritage trees and their importance on many levels.

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