"We are just extremely grateful for their support and participation and the donations from all of them because it's been a joint effort from a number of different groups," said the Rev. Angela Rivers, pastor of IMU Douglas Street UMC, 219 Douglas St. in Cartersville. "... [Since] our property is open and enjoyed not only by [our] church and after school program [but also by] the community, in turn we are giving something back to the community."
The American Elm replaces a large pecan tree that was struck by lightning several years ago and later toppled by the wind.
"We have a number of picnic tables in that area, which used to be shaded by the pecan tree," Rivers said. "There is still some shade from other trees but as this American Elm grows, it will provide more shade for the picnic tables in just a few years from now. Those are used, of course, for church events [and] as an outdoor classroom for after school. Also we have a number of people from the community. Sometimes we will see business people, construction workers, perhaps police or a mail carrier out there having lunch at the picnic tables.
"During the summertime, when we have the summer lunch program here, many of the families will go out and eat on those. In the evenings and on weekends, if we aren't using them for church events, many times families in the community come and the adults will sit at the tables and visit. We may see two or three families out there who are not church families while their kids are playing on the playground. So it's very much a community site and anytime we see those people, we welcome them, encourage them to be here or just ask them to help us keep things neat and pick up litter."
For Missy Phillips -- acting director for Bartow County Government Office of Environmental Programs, which coordinates Keep Bartow Beautiful -- planting an American Elm helps strengthen the county's tree population, since it promotes species diversity.
"We're planting a tree to replace trees that have been overcome by drought and/or storms," Phillips said. "Replacing trees in urban areas not only improves the community visibly but provides shade and so many other natural services -- soil retention and shade are just two examples. We're planting this tree because it, like the American Chestnut, is a comeback tree. Through genetics the tree has been given resistance to the disease that pretty much wiped it out in North America.
"Historically, we're helping to mark a point in time by planting an American Elm in Cartersville. Many years ago the neighbors on Douglas Street marked a place in time by planting pecan trees up and down the street. Many of these trees still exist and there is still at least one on the church's property. We are setting our own historical precedent, marking another place in time, by making sure that the American Elm is a part of the species diversity that is being planted around town. Species diversity means that it will be much less likely to lose every tree in town at the same time due to some adversity, such as drought or blight."