WASHINGTON AND HOLMES COUNTIES - Hurricane Michael left a trail of trees uprooted and on their sides. But the Florida Forest Service is using Florida Arbor Day to get the scenery upright.
FFS is giving out 325 trees on Friday across Washington and Holmes counties. The trees in both locations will be in one gallon pots and broken down by species.
"We've lost everything from yard trees to major forests," said FFS Senior Forester Thomas Moss, adding the tree giveaway is not going to make much of an impact, but "It's a good start."
FFS will give away potted persimmon, tulip poplar, red maple, bald cypress, and southern magnolia trees from 8 to 11 a.m. at East Pennsylvania Ave and North Waukesha Street in Bonifay. In Chipley, fringe tree, bald cypress, red maple, eastern redbud, southern red oak, southern magnolia, live oak, and tulip poplar potted trees will be given away from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Washington County Agriculture Center located at 1424 Jackson Ave. in Chipley.
"This is something Florida Forest Service likes to do every year, from a parent planting a tree with a kid watching it grow up," Moss said, "to just getting something out there and growing."
And the need for planting trees is growing.
The Panhandle suffered about $1.3 billion in timber damage, according to FFS. And that amount is expected to grow as existing trees may still experience stress from pests and disease.
Moss said the FFS is currently working through the emergency forest program, administered through the farm service agency, to get the forests restored. Also, representatives from the FFS will meet with state legislators to get other programs going, he said.
If you need help with damage on your tree farm, contact Thomas Moss, Senior Forester in Washington and Holmes counties, at 850-373-1813.